This year, the season of Lent begins on February 14, as the church observes Ash Wednesday. During the forty days of Lent, Christians of all ages may choose to give up something of value in order that they may spend more time focusing on the Word of God and prayer. How can leaders in the church help kids observe Lent? What are some developmentally appropriate activities for kids during this time of repentance? Here are four ways that you can help kids at your church observe Lent.
Focus on the Key Points
Explaining all the nuances of Lent to a child can be a tough job! However, teaching about this season doesn’t have to be complicated. Short videos are a great way to help kids understand the heart of the message during the Lenten season.
If you don’t have equipment to show a video, Lent can be explained to kids in just a few sentences:
During Lent, we are sorry for our sin and the things we have done wrong. Our sins are so serious that the punishment is death and eternal separation from God, but Jesus took this punishment upon Himself. So we repent, asking Jesus to help us be humble and admit our sin. The color of Lent is purple, for repentance. (Lutheranism 101 for Kids, p. 50)*
No matter how you choose to focus on the key points, don’t forget this: even during Lent, it’s important to keep the message focused on Jesus! When talking about the importance of repentance, reassure your kids that no matter how big their sin or how many sins they commit, everything has been forgiven because of Jesus! Remind kids that in Baptism, God has washed away every sin because of Jesus.
Music and hymns are also a great way to help kids observe Lent. Families with a hymnal can turn to the Lenten section and choose a different hymn to learn each week. Ask your church office ahead of time if they can share the hymn of the day in advance. This way, families know which hymns will be coming up in church and will be able to practice them at home. When kids come to worship, they will be able to recognize and sing the songs they have already become familiar with at home!
For families that are less musically talented, a wide array of audio and video resources can be accessed online for free. Take advantage of streaming music and video services to find Lenten songs that may be good for kids to learn. For example, did you know that My First Hymnal recordings for Lent are available on and through the Amazon music app? YouTube also has a variety of music for Lent, including this playlist by CPH Music.
Use Object Lessons
Seasoned teachers know that when teaching tough concepts, object lessons can be a great way to connect abstract ideas with concrete reality. The free download at the end of this post includes an object lesson from Church Year Connections for each of the five Sundays in Lent.
Here’s a sneak preview of what each lesson covers:
- First Sunday in Lent
- Bible Lesson: Mark 1:9–15
- Supplies needed: One big shell, little shells for each child
- Summary: Kids will use the shells to remind them of their Baptism into Christ.
- Second Sunday in Lent
- Bible Lesson: Mark 8:27–38
- Supplies needed: Pictures of your pastor, famous people, and Jesus
- Summary: Children compare pictures of famous and not-so-famous people and find out more about who Jesus is—the one and only Savior!
- Third Sunday in Lent
- Bible Lesson: 1 Corinthians 1:18–31
- Supplies needed: None
- Summary: Kids compare wise and foolish ideas, remembering that God’s wisdom is above all else.
- Fourth Sunday in Lent
- Bible Lesson: Ephesians 2:1–10
- Supplies needed: Small crosses for each child
- Summary: Kids talk about the greatest gifts they have received on earth and give thanks for God’s perfect gift of our Savior.
- Fifth Sunday in Lent
- Bible Lesson: Mark 10:(32–34) 35–45
- Supplies needed: Toy crown and a rag
- Summary: We rejoice in knowing that Jesus gave up the riches of heavenly glory to save us from sin, death, and the devil.
Reinforce with Activity Pages
Coloring and activity pages help supplement learning and provide a visual connection to help students remember the message of the season. Find a coloring page to align with each week’s readings or consider utilizing worship activity folders for kids to use during the service.
*Quotation from Lutheranism 101 for Kids © 2012 Concordia Publishing House.
Looking for sample music, object lessons, and activity pages? Download these free resources to share with kids at your church this Lenten season.