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Karen McClelland’s tips for helping your kids grow this Lent

1) Grapevine wreath (our family has done this for years; it’s similar to adding hay to a manger during the Advent season; For Easter morning, we swap out the crown of thorns for a crown/wreath filled with (silk) dogwood blossoms and share the legend of the dogwood tree): Click Here

2) Sacrifice beans (we tried this one year but the amount of jelly beans in the end was a bit much so we moved to the wreath, but I know a lot of people really enjoy this one): Click Here 

3) Lenten calendar: We have printed these out for years, and the kids are really faithful about using them to count down the forty days: Click Here 

4) Family Lenten calendar: We have made a version of this wall calendar since my big kids were little. We personalize the sacrifices to make them specific to our family, but the big visual aid is a great reminder. Click Here. We like to supplement this calendar with some of the images from this digital download to make sure we’re remaining aware of saints’ days during Lent and other “markers” throughout the season: Click Here

5) Personal Plan: Every year we have the kids draw a simple image of themselves (from the shoulders up) with a cross of ashes on their forehead, leaving blank space on either side of their drawing for writing. We then make lists of “Do’s” and “Do Nots” for Lent, trying to emphasize the positive aspects of Lent as an opportunity rather than a burden and a drudge. So we may say “do chores cheerfully” or “do spend more time outside” rather than perhaps the harder “do not complain” or “do not use screens.” It’s not so much “spin” as reframing. We try to come up with age-appropriate doable and encouraging options for each list. Somewhere I’m sure I have a picture of one of these pictures. 🤷

6) Stations of the Cross: In addition to trying to participate in your parish’s Stations of the Cross devotion, there are a lot of options nowadays for having images of the stations present in your own home, from easy free printables stations (Click Here)   to a printable Stations booklet to color (Click Here) to these beautiful tabletop stations: (Click Here)

6) Forty bags for forty days: This is something we have often tried but rarely fully finish but we are challenged by it every year nonetheless. Here’s a version for kids/families with free printables: (Click Here). and here’s a version geared more toward moms: (Click Here)

7) Shrouding images: On Passiontide, we go around our home shrouding all of our statues, crucifixes, and holy images. Though it’s a little later in the season, thinking about and preparing for this sooner may help see that it happens. I just bought a few yards of purple fabric at JoAnn’s one year and we rip and cut it into all sorts of sizes. This is a great article on shrouding: (Click Here)

8) Folding Palms: again, getting ahead of myself with the season, but on Palm Sunday we make crosses and we fashion one above the door of each bedroom in our home. We also process around our home and property and place crosses in our orchard, vegetable garden, and in our chicken “run.” That’s a common European practice on Palm Sunday. We also place a flat palm behind every crucifix and holy image in our home (a little tricky given that they are shrouded already, but worth doing for the sake of the year-round presence of the palms). Here’s an easy how-to for kids: (Click Here)

For more adventurous palm folders, I have also made a crown of thorns for our largest family crucifixes. It’s a little trickier but it dries beautifully and is well worth the effort. I rewatch this sweet Sister weaving a crown every year 🙂

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