The Reformation, kicked off by Martin Luther on October 31 of 1517, is one of the largest turning points in history. It still affects us today. How can you help children in your church understand its importance? Here are six ways to dig deeper into the Reformation, along with some free downloadable activities.
See the 95 Theses
Kids know that 95 is a big number, but do they know just how big? Print out the 95 Theses and hang them up—even tape the pages end-to-end, making one long sheet that will trail on the ground! Or, create a paper chain with 95 links and hold it across your room. These visual representations can show kids just how many things Martin Luther wanted to talk about, and can start your own conversations about what specific changes were made.
Color Luther’s Rose
The famous seal of Martin Luther, Luther’s Rose, is a wonderful visual for explaining the Reformation. The colors and symbols can help students connect ideas with the images they see every day. With younger students, a Luther’s Rose coloring page allows them to have a hands-on experience with these major themes of the Reformation! Walk through each different piece and color, explaining the significance of the color and part of the seal while children color each part.
Eat A Diet of (Gummy) Worms
When students hear about “The Diet of Worms,” you may get some confused looks or giggles. Explain that, no, Luther did not have to eat actual worms, but instead the Diet was a major discussion of theology in the city of Worms. As Luther met with the Holy Roman Emperor, he demonstrated his conviction of using God’s Word for all teaching. When discussing this turning point in the Reformation, be sure to explain the roles of all the people involved—and maybe bring some gummy worms to share.
Host a Marty Party
Hosting a Reformation-themed event like a “Marty Party” can be a great way to have a fun event for the fall season in lieu of a Halloween party. Kids can dress in thematic Reformation wear and participate in Reformation or theme-based games. Trivia games can be especially popular, and your students can show off their knowledge!
Map it Out
Many of the events of the Reformation were affected by where they took place. Print out a map of Europe in the 1500s, marking major cities of the Reformation, such as Rome, Worms, Wittenberg, Eisleben, Erfurt, Wartburg, and Augsburg. As you “travel” from city to city, explain the events that happened in each place and how they affected Luther and the other Reformers. This is a great way to make a journey out of studying the Reformation. Hang up the map and refer to it each week or during each lesson.
Act out the Story of Martin & Katie
An important person in the Reformation who often gets overlooked is Martin’s wife, Katie Luther, or Katharina von Bora. In teaching about her experience, a new perspective can be brought to the table. Her beginnings as a nun and her eventual marriage to Luther, as well as their family life, can open the eyes of your students to the fact that Martin Luther wasn’t just a preacher and teacher—he was also a husband and dad! Choose students to play Martin and Katie, and have them dramatically act out their story as another student reads a summary of their lives.
The Reformation affected the entire world and still impacts us today. Teaching our children about the stand that Martin Luther and his fellow reformers took is an important responsibility. Just as Luther was committed to the church and its people, we can be too.
For more Reformation activities, check out our free Reformation activities for kids!