Of all the church holidays, Ash Wednesday is perhaps the hardest for me to create meaningful learning and reflection opportunities to engage children. This year, children ages 3-7 will be invited to participate in a short 25-minute lesson during the homily. I was going to just share our plan afterwards (and I might edit this post to add details!), but if you’re doing some last-minute googling, this might be helpful!
Here’s our plan:
- Transition: First, we’re going to do some movement outside of the space where we’re reading. Our service will be in the evening, and I expect the excitement of something new and mid-week will have everyone excited. I’ll gauge their current energy level and wind down from there. If they’re wound up, we’ll start with some jumping up and down, some spinning around, some running in place. Then, we’ll transition to some more graceful, gentle movements: swaying, slowly turning in place. Finally, we’ll do some small movements with our hands. After we wind down, I’ll talk about how our reading for today is a quiet, small movement reading. When we’re ready to be quiet and gentle, we’ll enter our story space together.
- Story: In our story space (usually a tailgate tent set up in a multi-purpose room, but quite possibly just a blanket on the rug for our pared-down midweek service!), we’ll read pages 3-9 of Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary. This is a gorgeous book, and one I plan to utilize often in the future! It would be especially appropriate for a family worship or devotional time.
- Activity: For special occasions during the church year, I like to have a thoughtful craft instead of just open reflection time following our story. On page 3, Alary writes, “This is the Season of Lent. The church is dressed in purple.” I’ve drawn crosses with paint-infused white school glue on watercolor paper sheets (similar to this technique) to make a slightly raised cross shape. During the quiet reflection time, the children will have a chance to watercolor these papers with various hues of purple watercolors. In my experience, watercolor tends to slow children down and help aid in reflection. The medium, color, and subject all seem to point to the slow, reflective nature of Lent.