I've been meaning to write a bit about how we celebrated Lent here on the Range. I want to make a record and (most importantly) make some notes to remind myself of a few additional things for next year.
Celebrating Lent - the best guide to Lent I've found for young children, with many thanks to a knowledgeable mom at Faith & Family. We read a few pages once a week and talked about them together. I highly recommend it.
CRS Operation Rice Bowl - we read many of the daily meditations and even made some of the meals (the ones we could make without buying anything too unusual). First Son received a rice bowl from our parish and we all shared it. I combined lessons with some money identification and counting. Next year, I'd like to add more geography. I may also ask for an additional rice bowl so First Daughter can have her own. It seemed dropping coins in the rice bowl was the highlight of the morning for all three of them.
The Way of the Cross for Children. We read through this together every Friday morning. First Son even read his own part aloud. I wasn't ready to attempt Stations of the Cross with the three kids by myself. It probably would have been alright, but the only time we tried to go last year was a complete disaster, even with Kansas Dad along. The little prayers in this book were just right for us.
Next year, I plan to print out our own Stations of the Cross. There are some in Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church which you can find online here. If I'm feeling very ambitious, I may glue popsicle sticks around the pictures. I'll let the kids color them, too, if they ask. (I actually forgot I had that book this year and will need to go through it more next year before Lent to see if there are other activities we can incorporate.)
I'd also like to print out these Stations of the Cross on cardstock and laminate them for the kids. They'll be able to handle them, sort them and read them. If I remember (and hopefully this post will help), I'll make three or four copies so they can each have a copy. First Son and First Daughter will probably also want to play matching games.
Resurrection Eggs and Benjamin's Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs. I was going to make my own eggs, but found some cheaper than I think it would have cost me for the materials. The kids LOVE these. I had to keep taking them away and putting them up so Second Daughter wouldn't destroy them or lose any of the pieces. In fact, they are still playing with them. First Son read the little book that came in the box with additional ideas and has been leading some sessions for First Daughter. Benjamin's Box is nothing exceptional, but it's fine and the kids enjoy it. (There is one page that says the bread and wine "symbolically" become the body and blood of Jesus, but Catholics can easily note the difference if you feel it's necessary. Kansas Dad read the story this year so I'm not sure if he made any comments on it.)
Last year, we didn't ask the children to give anything up. We just weren't in the mood to fight the battle. This year, we decided to give up all sweets (candy, cupcakes, everything) except for weekends and feast days. I was surprised at how easy it was after the first few days. They didn't even ask for any! (I always encouraged them to eat what they were served by someone else, though, so they could eat sweets at snack time at the story hour, for example.) It also made the feast days during Lent even more memorable for the kids. They were also very excited for the celebrations of Easter.
Lent has always been one of my favorite seasons of the liturgical year. It seems like a time when the sacrifices of Christ are more often on my mind. I'm pleased with how the children approached Lent this year and I hope very much to make it an important time for them.