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Preparing for a Hands-On Lent


Here are three hands-on activities for Lent: a candle-based Stations of the Cross, a flipbook, and hands-on Lenten prayer table suggestions.
by Heidi Indahl
I am someone who has always liked Lent. It always seems such a fitting end to the dreary winter. February feels exhaustingly long for such a short month! By March, the snow, melt, freeze, thaw, repeat cycles of the North really starts to wear me down. Lent reflects that and I think that’s maybe one piece of why I like it.

Intentional-FamilyIt’s also a time that comes with a built-in excuse for slowing down my busy household to a more reflective pace. Lent is a time for our whole family to narrow our focus towards Christ’s life through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. As you plan ahead for your family’s Lenten journey, here are two ways to incorporate hands-on learning.


Family Friendly Stations of the Cross (Two Ways)

While we try to attend our parish Stations of the Cross, we also make an effort to regularly pray the Stations in our home during Lent. Here are two ways we have found to involve kids of mixed ages in this devotion.


Lighting a candle for each Station allows children to take turn extinguishing the candles after we pray the station.  We turn off the lights and start with 14 candles lit and end in darkness, which provides a neat symbolism. We keep the candles in a common spot throughout Lent (our prayer table when we don’t have grabby crawlers and the top of the piano when we do).
Throughout the week, I will mix them up and see how long it takes the kids to catch my mistakes, creating a fun way for them to remember the sequence of events.
We made our own candles several years ago using glue, tissue paper, small votive candles, and pictures printed from the Internet. You can use plain candles (purple votives or tapers would be nice) or create picture candles like we did.

Picture Flip Books

For our non readers, we printed small images for each station on card stock and put them on a key ring for easy flipping. Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families has a nice kid-friendly printable Stations of the Cross craft kit available for purchase that would work nicely or you can find an art set online for free (this is how we found our images). Even with the candles this gives the non readers something to hold and look at during the prayers. If you do create a set of candles with images, you can make your flip books match.


[Related: Stations of the Cross for Children books and posters]


Lent Basket or Prayer Table Suggestions

  • Purple Cloth
  • Sorrowful Mysteries meditations (consider the Illuminated Rosary: Sorrowful Mysteries)
  • Stations of the Cross pictures
  • Divine Mercy image & prayer
  • Crucifix
  • Small fish (to symbolize no-meat Fridays)
  • Coins (to symbolize almsgiving)
  • Crown of Thorns
  • Desert box or small sandbox
  • Cross puzzle
To find more ideas, follow my Hands-On Lent board on Pinterest.
Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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