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Helping Families Keep Lent: Lent Challenges

Using Lent as a Time to Grow

Lent Challenges

Lent Challenges are a way to learn new practices and focus on “doing something” instead of “giving up something.”  Based on the Ash Wednesday Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer to have a “Holy Lent”, these challenges are designed to discover and try new things.  Each time a task is completed, the child gets a sticker or other type reward on a bulletin board.  The child, also, gets a matching sticker to wear.  Once a challenge is completed, the child demonstrates or shows me.

I encourage families to do the challenge together and explore them together.  Once all the challenges are completed, the child gets an invitation to a pizza party with me after Easter.

This can be done as a family-at-home challenge or done as a group class project on a week-night with other children.

Lent week One: Prayer

               An explanation of what it is and why do it (if done at home, then an informational sheet.)

               Obvious ways

  • Meals
    • Start & Close of Day
    • Book of Common Prayer
    • When worried about something

Other Ways to Pray

  • Praying while coloring
    • Praying using a labyrinth or object
    • Praying in a visual way

Writing a prayer-child writes prayer to be used throughout week.

Choose a prayer practice

Do it

Lent week Two: Community Service

               An explanation of Baptismal Covenant and importance of helping others (if done at home, then

               Informational sheet.)

               Obvious ways

  • Helping those closest to you
    • Helping the earth
    • Moving Outward
    • County, State
    • Country
    • World

Our project: choosing a project-

  • Who helps
    • What we will do

               Do project

Lent week three: Study and Learning

What is it (studying scripture)

Why do it?

  • To know, get help, understand
    • To be able to interpret for ourselves
    • To gain and grow in wisdom & faith
    • To connect to God, Christianity, each other
    • For strength, comfort, etc.

Obvious ways

  • History of Bible Reading-OT, NT
    • Families read together
    • Different translations
    • Media presentations

Other Ways to Read and study

  • Devotionals
    • With others, Lectio or other out-loud methods.
    • Beginning to end
    • Picking a certain Book or Chapter of the Holy Bible.

Choose one.  Make a picture book for children showing what you have read or write a meditation on what you did for the week.

Lent week Four: Almsgiving

               What is it and Why do it? (If sending home, send home informational sheet).

Obvious ways to raise money to give for a child

  • Earning money
    • Chores, Allowance
    • Selling items a baked goods
    • Giving up a food or other item and putting that money towards almsgiving.

               Organizations-many different ways to give to charity

  • The Church
  • Episcopal Relief and Development

               Pick a project and writing a plan paying for & set goal.  Then do it.

Lent Week Five: Personal Practices

               How do you live out your faith?

What does our Baptismal Covenant say?

               Review the Book of Common Prayer.

               Healthy balance

  • Media
  • Friends
  • School
  • Church
  • Faith practices

Other Ways

  • Goals for one year, five years
    • Write letter to self

Writing a mission/goal statement

Choose ways to help achieve

Do it.

Lent Challenges for Families & Children: A Fun Way to Grow During Lent

Lent Challenges

Lent Challenges are a way to learn new practices and focus on “doing something” instead of “giving up something.”  Based on the Ash Wednesday Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer to have a “Holy Lent”, these challenges are designed to discover and try new things.  Each time a task is completed, the child gets a sticker or other type reward on a bulletin board.  The child, also, gets a matching sticker to wear.  Once a challenge is completed, the child demonstrates or shows me.

I encourage families to do the challenge together and explore them together.  Once all the challenges are completed, the child gets an invitation to a pizza party with me after Easter.

This can be done as a family-at-home challenge or done as a group class project on a week-night with other children.

Lent week One: Prayer

               An explanation of what it is and why do it (if done at home, then an informational sheet.)

               Obvious ways

  • Meals
    • Start & Close of Day
    • Book of Common Prayer
    • When worried about something

Other Ways to Pray

  • Praying while coloring
    • Praying using a labyrinth or object
    • Praying in a visual way

Writing a prayer-child writes prayer to be used throughout week.

Choose a prayer practice

Do it

Lent week Two: Community Service

               An explanation of Baptismal Covenant and importance of helping others (if done at home, then

               Informational sheet.)

               Obvious ways

  • Helping those closest to you
    • Helping the earth
    • Moving Outward
    • County, State
    • Country
    • World

Our project: choosing a project-

  • Who helps
    • What we will do

               Do project

Lent week three: Study and Learning

What is it (studying scripture)

Why do it?

  • To know, get help, understand
    • To be able to interpret for ourselves
    • To gain and grow in wisdom & faith
    • To connect to God, Christianity, each other
    • For strength, comfort, etc.

Obvious ways

  • History of Bible Reading-OT, NT
    • Families read together
    • Different translations
    • Media presentations

Other Ways to Read and study

  • Devotionals
    • With others, Lectio or other out-loud methods.
    • Beginning to end
    • Picking a certain Book or Chapter of the Holy Bible.

Choose one.  Make a picture book for children showing what you have read or write a meditation on what you did for the week.

Lent week Four: Almsgiving

               What is it and Why do it? (If sending home, send home informational sheet).

Obvious ways to raise money to give for a child

  • Earning money
    • Chores, Allowance
    • Selling items a baked goods
    • Giving up a food or other item and putting that money towards almsgiving.

               Organizations-many different ways to give to charity

  • The Church
  • Episcopal Relief and Development

               Pick a project and writing a plan paying for & set goal.  Then do it.

Lent Week Five: Personal Practices

               How do you live out your faith?

What does our Baptismal Covenant say?

               Review the Book of Common Prayer.

               Healthy balance

  • Media
  • Friends
  • School
  • Church
  • Faith practices

Other Ways

  • Goals for one year, five years
    • Write letter to self

Writing a mission/goal statement

Choose ways to help achieve

Do it.

Using the Jesus Doll & Kit for Lent

Jesus Doll makes children smile


Lent is a time to focus on our relationships with God and each other. One bridge to the Sunday Morning “box” and to one’s home is with a Jesus Doll.  It helps families become rooted in Jesus in an easy way. After adding a home kit, it has been a wonderful tool to tie our parish and faith to a family’s home life.  Children have loved their turn with the doll and kit.  Parents love having a format to discuss Jesus and faith. One mother told me that her family had never discussed Jesus so much!

The family gets the Jesus Doll and Home kit on Sunday morning and return it the following Sunday.  I send an email during the week to let the coming family know their turn with the doll and kit will start the coming Sunday.  I, also, send an email to the family who has the doll, asking them to send pictures and reminding them to bring it with them on Sunday. We have a large parish, so generally I stick to our Kindergarten Class, but all children love the opportunity to take “Jesus” into their home.

The photographs returned are full of smiles as the child(ren) take Jesus on their different adventures.  Jesus has visited preschool classes, parks, parties, and zoos while with the children.  Jesus, also, joins the family at dinner and bedtime. The books (made from a photo service), are cherished. I title it “Jesus Came to our Homes” and the year. I put the photos in story content.

Parents receive a letter in the kit:

    This is your week with St. Paul’s Jesus Doll and bag.  Enclosed in the bag, you will find a folder with an activity sheet for each child in your family as soon as Jesus comes home and then an activity sheet when Jesus is ready to come back to church.  Please, return the sheets with the doll and book in the bag.  They will be used to make a display and a book.

       The bag, also, contains the book If Jesus Came to My House.  Please read this with your child and use it throughout your time with the Jesus doll as a time to talk about Jesus in our homes and in our lives.

       Please email a photo of your child(ren) with the Jesus Doll and one photo of Jesus doing an activity with your family.  These with the words will be put into a Shutterfly book that will travel with the doll in the future.  Copies will be available for purchase if you would like your own.    

       Included in this folder is a Parent Insights Page.  Please write anything you would like to share about this experience for your family. 

      Please, return the doll and the bag with all the contents the next time you come to the church.  The doll and bag with new sheets will be passed on to the next family.

     Any discussion questions you have with your children that you would like to pass on, please let Lauren know and those will be compiled to travel with the doll.

Enjoy your visit with Jesus at your home and I hope you find ways to include Jesus in all your activities even beyond the doll’s visit.

Additionally, each kit contains

  • Two Activity Sheets for each child: one sheet asks the child to write or draw what they would like to do with Jesus during the coming week and the other is their favorite times with Jesus (write or draw) for child to return and then are displayed.
  • Insight Page for parents to return
  • Book: If Jesus Came to My House
  • Jesus Doll
  • Photo book from previous years

The Jesus Doll and Home Kit was such a success, that I purchased a second Jesus Doll and book. This one goes to our school for classes to use. Jesus, also, attends our parish events. I get various pictures of Jesus with parishioners or “doing” some of our regular activities.

Click on any of the highlighted items to see what I used.  Any items purchased through this link helps to fund this site.

Helping Families Keep the Season of Lent

Lent-in-a-Bag 2020

This church season begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with the Easter Triduum (Maundy Thursday through Easter Day) and lasts forty days, plus the Sundays.  Lent is an important time in the church and for our families.  It was has been a time for preparation for Easter, which included baptism of converts to the faith and reconciliation of those who either left the church or of sinners who had been publicly excommunicated from the church.  It is a time to get ready to enter into the mystery of Easter.  Lent, historically, is a time of fasting, penitence, almsgiving (charity work), prayer and study for those being baptized, reconciled, or those wishing to grow closer to God.  Currently, we are asked to use Lent as a time for personal and collective transformations.  We look truthfully at ourselves and make changes. 

We see two major scripture stories that use the forty days as a time of great change.  The children of Israel, were led out of bondage into freedom, but ended up spending time in the wilderness to prepare for their promised land.  Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days to prepare for his ministry.  As these stories represent, we can use Lent to break our bonds, make new choices and begin a new direction for hearts and lives.

When most people think of Lent, they think of giving up a food item for six weeks.  I like to give families a new practice and a time to focus on their relationship with God and each other.  Giving them the tools for spiritual practices and discussions during this time is important.  Some of the offerings I give families are Lent Home Kits, Lent Challenges, Jesus Doll and Home Kit, Ways to Pray and Give, and Devotionals. 

Holy Week will be covered in Another blog.

Lent Home Kits- Lent-in-a-Bag is one of the most popular of our take home activities.  The bags are handed out on the first Sunday of Lent (one per family).  The bag contains six objects and devotions.  I place the object in a snack size back and staple the devotion to the bag.  I, also, put a booklet with all the Bible reading for each devotion.  I find that busy families will not take the time to go and get a Bible, so this guarantees that scripture will be read.  Each week, after dinner or before bedtime, the family gathers together.  One object with devotion is bulled from the Lent-in-a-Bag.  Someone reads the devotion and accompanying scripture.  There is a discussion and prayer said.  It does not take long, but families are so excited, especially the children, it is hard to get them to wait a week in-between. 

Buying items in bulk helps keep the cost down to a little over $1 a bag.

Each year, I choose a different theme.  In 2019, I did “Journey into the Wilderness” with each scripture and devotion being about someone who from scripture who had to go to the wilderness or a dark time before they did their work. 

For 2020, the theme was “Praying with Jesus”.  Each scripture and devotion is about one of the times Jesus used prayer before a major act or immediately after: Before his ministry started, the wilderness (the object was a rock), before choosing the 12 apostles (the object was a star), before the Transfiguration (the object was a battery-operated tea candle), and before he was arrested (the object was a cross).  After he fed the 5000 (the object was a fish).  He taught how to pray (the object is a scroll with the Lord’s Prayer).

Examples of devotions:

Before choosing his 12 apostles, Jesus went to pray.  He continued in prayer all night.  Read Luke 6:12-16.  Why do you think he prayed before choosing the 12?  Why pray all night?  When do you pray?  What if before major choices, we prayed, do you think it would make a difference?  We think of stars as important and even call some people a star.  What if we made Jesus our star this Lent.  What would that look like?  As you pass around the star, name one thing about Jesus that you admire.  Say a prayer asking Jesus to be your star.

Before Jesus’ transfiguration, Jesus took a few of his disciples and went up on the mountain to pray.  Read Luke 9: 28-36.  Jesus became filled with light and glowed, as well as, spoke to two prophets from a long time ago.  When we are in darkness, we use light to help us see.  What else do we use light for?  When are times that you were afraid and a light made you feel better?  Turn on the candle.  We depend on light.  What if we relied on Jesus, like we relied on light?  As you pass the candle, say a prayer and each name one place in your life that you will include Jesus as the center (the light.)

After Jesus feeds a large crowd, Jesus sends his friends on and goes to pray.  He had tried to spend time in prayer before the feeding, but had compassion on the crowd.  Read Matthew 14: 13-23.  Just as Jesus fed the crowd food, prayer feeds our souls.  It helps us connect with God.  What are some things that feed you (helps you feel excited and full of energy?)  When you are tired, what feeds you (helps you to feel better?)  What is a way you can connect to God?  Think of a short sentence that you could use to pray continuously to God (i.e. God be with me.)  Fish need care.  Our souls need care.  Pass around the fish and say your short sentence as a prayer.  When the last one has said their prayer, say the Lord’s Prayer together.

Surprisingly, Jesus does not tell his disciples about prayer; he just does it.  One, finally, asks Jesus to teach them how to pray.  Read Luke 11: 10-8.  This is what we call the Lord’s Prayer.  It is the only prayer Jesus taught us.  He starts by acknowledging God’s will is the most important then asks for the things we need to survive and moves into asking forgiveness for our sins (trespasses), but on the condition that we forgive others.  Then we ask for guidance when we are faced with a difficult choice or situation.  When do you pray the Lord’s Prayer?  What is your favorite part?  Are there other prayers you could pray that ask for the same thing?  Unroll the scroll.  Where is someplace you could place the scroll this week to remind all who see it to pray the Lord’s Prayer or a similar prayer?  Say the Lord’s Prayer together and put the scroll in a place to remind each family member to say the prayer when they see it.

Before Easter, there was Good Friday, the crucifixion.  Before the crucifixion, there was the arrest of Jesus.  Before the arrest of Jesus, Jesus goes to pray.  He knows what is to come and requires the strength and connection that comes with prayer.  He, also, asks his friends to come and pray with him, but they keep falling asleep.  Read Mark 14: 32-41.  I wonder how things seem, things we are very afraid to face or do, if we went to prayer for strength and connection?  When do you like to pray alone?  When do you like praying in a group?  When do you like praying in a community?  What do you like about each?  What do you not like about each?  As you pass around the cross, name one emotion Jesus was probably feeling.  When everyone has had a turn, say a prayer asking God to be with you when you feel those feelings.  Sit in quiet with your eyes closed, letting God’s presence be with you.

Before starting his ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days.  To prepare for his ministry, Jesus prayed.  Read Matthew 4:6-11. 

While in the wilderness, Jesus was invited to transform stone into bread.  Jesus knew he was not called to do this by God.  Perhaps prayer helped him to know what he was called to do.  Might there be a stony place in you that needs changing?  Some attitude or habit that, with a little attention, might even become a gift for you and others?  When you are angry or sad, it may feel like your heart has become a rock.  How does that feel?  How can you help someone who has a “rock” in their heart?  When we are hungry or hurting it can be hard to do the right thing.  How can we remember to choose to do the right thing?  Pass around the rock. Using a permanent marker, write a word that everyone can pray to help you when you feel like you are in a rocky place.

Click here to see Lent in a Bag 2019

Helping Families Keep the Season After Epiphany, Part 2

The Parables, Ways to Expand and Group Activities

Below are activities meant to build on Family Activities mentioned in Part One: Helping Families Keep the Season After Epiphany. The ideas mentioned in the first part are designed for families to do as a unit at home. The ideas in part 2 are meant for group activites done in church to expand on the discussions and activities in the home.

Family Service Sunday: Using the theme of the parable, I come up with at least four activities that families with children of all ages, including the very young, can do together.  We start as a large group and the parable is told with a very short discussion (this should last no more than ten minutes) and we say a prayer together.   We, then, divide by project (each family has chosen their project in advance). For each project, a speaker comes to talk for no more than ten minutes.  Then they are taught a new skill or how to do the project, and finally, we work on the project. Someone closes that project group in prayer.   For the Parable of the Samaritan, we focused on “Love Thy Neighbor.”  The projects were cooking class and cooking a meal for the Ronald McDonald House (we have also had a chaplain for first responders come and made brownies and thank you cards for first responders.) For the Humane Society, after the speaker finished, we made dog toys and blankets for dogs and cats.  For our local nursing home, we learned songs and then went to sing there and handed out flowers.  We kept the songs simple and did motions so all children could participate.  For those who are homebound (in our parish), we had someone come and talk about loneliness, and wrote pen-pal letters and decorated frames with their new pen-pal family picture.  For our newborn family ministry, we bought knitting kits from widows in Rwanda and made baby hats to be handed out to the newborns at the hospital.

There are many agencies that will come out and talk about their agency and have ideas or projects groups of families can do.

Godly Play Story and Meal:  We invite families for a meal or for pot luck.  After the meal, I use Godly Play to tell the parable we are focusing on.  This event is mostly about fellowship and shared parable experience.

Lego Parable Night:  Setting up four to eight different parable stories on each table, families are encouraged to pick a table with other people at it, as they come in.  After eating the meal, the people at each table reads their parable from the Bible (at their table), and discusses it.  They then bring the parable to life using Legos.  Once they have completed their Lego project, they write a paraphrase of their parable and a prayer to go with it.  We compile all the Lego projects on tables in our hallway and the following Sunday, have a Parable Walk for all to see, read, and pray.

Parable Play: This was a big hit with our children and youth.  The children and youth got together and rewrote the parable into a play, designed costumes (out of what we had), made set decorations, gathered props and learned a part.  We put it on for the adults during our parish retreat, but can be done at a meal or gathering.

Helping Families Keep the Season After Epiphany, Part One

This time in the church was known as Ordinary Time, but the Season between Epiphany and Lent is anything but ordinary. In most places, Winter is setting in, sports and activities have slowed, and people are spending the majority of their time indoors.     This is a great time to give families short activities they can do indoors as a family, especially after all the activities of the Christmas Season coming to an end, there is a void of ritual, celebration, and family time that can be missed.

The Season After Epiphany is a great time to spend some time on the Parables of Jesus.  Most people are not familiar with them or understand that they were stories used by Jesus to teach.  Many people thought they were events that actually happened in the Bible or just did not know them.

There are several activities that can be offered to families as a way to talk about and have fun with the Parables.  I start by choosing one or two parables, depending on the amount of time we have before Lent starts.  One for every four weeks after Epiphany is a good gage of how many to introduce.

Some ideas to give families the tools they need for a parable include: Parable Kits, Parable Discussion Pages, Parable Dive, and Parable Devotions. Ways to expand and help families to practice what they are discussing at home include: Family Service Sunday, Godly Play Story and Meal, Lego Parable Night and a Parable Play.

Starting with the basics, no matter what tool/activities you choose, is important.  A brief overview of “What is a Parable?”, where it is found in the Bible (including what was happening that Jesus told the parable), and a copy of the scripture is a must no matter which options you introduce.

When thinking of the activity/tool you choose, ask yourself, why this is important, what you want the families to walk away with, and how you can tie it to something going on in their lives or in their church lives.

When explaining what a parable is, keep it simple and use words the children in the family will understand.  I love the picture of parables as gifts to us.  I love the idea that a parable can mean different things to the person hearing it, depending on where they are in life.  I love the way Jesus taught by not stating an answer, but sharing a story to think about and dig deeper into.  I love that the parable lessons are true throughout time.

Parable Kits: these include ways to “handle” the parable.  It can be making the figures and the parts of the parable (printing something on cardstock for them to color and cut out or cutting printed items out of felt and placing on small blocks of wood or carboard.) The Parable would be introduced and then the family would be encouraged to make the parable.  Another option, is to have significant pieces of the parable in a small bag and pull out the pieces when it is read out loud.  Once this activity is completed, a sheet with talking points, discussion questions, and three activities to do to encourage exploring the lesson of the parable. 

An example of the Parable of the Lost Sheep kit might include sheep to make, a shepherd to draw and craft sticks to make a sheep pen.  The Parable would be included.  An explanation that Jesus was asked why he ate with tax-collectors and sinners; why he kept company with those who the religious community at the time said should be avoided.  The explanation of what a parable is would be on the outside of the kit. Discussion questions might say, “Who are the sheep? Who is the shepherd? I wonder why Jesus choose the image of a shepherd and sheep to tell this story?  I wonder what those hearing the story were thinking?  In Jesus’ time, there were people named who were the lost sheep.  Who are the lost sheep around us?  Where/when have we felt lost?  Who are the shepherds who find us when we feel lost? I wonder if the shepherd had a hard time deciding to leave the 99 sheep?  I wonder how the 99 sheep felt when the shepherd left them to find the lost one?  I wonder how the lost sheep felt? I wonder how the lost one felt when he saw the shepherd? How about when the lost sheep was returned to the other 99?”  Some of these questions could be split over different times when the Parable Kit is brought out.  Activity ideas would be a sheet of paper with ways to help those we consider “lost”, an outreach activity, another book to read that has the same theme, and a game to play that follows the theme.

Parable Discussion Pages: Include the same things as the Parable Kits, but without objects to make.  This is a more realistic activity for families with teens or children too young to participate in the Parable Kit.  For families with young children, pages that the young child can color for themselves is fun for them.

Parable Dive: Starting with either the Parable Kit or Parable Discussion Pages, the Parable Dive includes focused activities at church for the Parable.  Each week in Christian Formation, a part of the parable can be taken home with the focus on the different aspects of the parts of the Parable.  To do a Parable Dive for the Parable of the Lost Sheep, each week for the next three weeks, a part is discussed and sent home.  Week one: the shepherd is discussed.  People to give pictures to place on a bulleting board about who are our shepherds or where we see our shepherd.  Children can be asked to draw their shepherd or write thank you notes to their shepherd.  Week two: the sheep are discussed.  People are encouraged to draw, write, describe their “flock”.  A take home sheet includes identifying the different “flocks” we belong to.  Week three: the lost sheep is discussed.  A stuffed sheep or small sheep can be hidden in various places for people to find throughout the week.  A small cutout sheep can be sent home and every time we identify someone who is lost, we place a small cross or star on the sheep.  Week four: the celebration is discussed or the sheep pen or another part of the parable. “You are seen and loved” stickers or cards can go home to be given out (for the celebration) and include a celebration and encouraging pictures of the celebration.  Places we feel safe and at home (the sheep pen) can be discussed.  Pictures and drawing of those places can be displayed.  Who is in them?  Encourage family pictures in front of these places to be displayed on the bulletin board.

Parable Devotions: Send out a weekly devotion based on the parable for families.  Include discussion questions and a prayer.  These devotions can be written by the clergy, the Sunday School teachers, Vestry members, or anyone who can give the time to write a one page or less devotion.

Lent in a Bag: Journey in the Wilderness

Lent in a Bag ready to go.

Developing a way for families to worship, discuss, and bring Lent into their homes without the traditional fasting (or in addition to giving up a food item) is one of the ways we strengthen the bridge between the church and home.

Lent in a Bag is handed out to all families with children on the first Sunday of Lent. Each year, I have a different theme with story items. This is to keep things interesting. For this year, the theme is Journey into the Wilderness. I am focusing on all the Bible stories about people who went into the desert and then came out to do their ministry.

Each week the family sits around the table and pulls one object out of the bag. Attached to each object is a Bible story, a short write up with discussion questions. After listening to the story, eachfamily member passes around the object and answers the questions. The session ends in prayer.

This is very popular and many of our families are excited to share Lent in a Bag with others outside of our church family!

Here are the stories and the items I used for this year:

Jesus- after his baptism, he goes into the wilderness (Matthew 4, Mark 1 or Luke 4) The object is a small bag of sand.

Jesus- in wildnerness tempted rocks to bread (Matthew 4: 1-10). The object is a rock.

Moses leaves Egypt to shepherd int he wilderness (Exodus 2: 11-25). The object is minature sheep.

Moses and the Israelites wander in the dessert (Exodus 32). The object is gold.

John the Baptist (Mark 1: 1-13). The object is a clam shell.

Ezekiel-having a heart for God (Ezekiel 36:24 – 37:14). The object is a heart.

Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18-25 summarized). The object is a baby.

With the theme of into the wilderness as a precusor to ministry, I am hoping it encourages each person to think about their ministry. In the future, if they are driven “into the wilderness” in their lives, then to know an exciting ministry can be ahead in their lives too.

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Family Serving Sunday: Love Thy Neighbor

Setting a Sunday afternoon in February as a Family Service Day teaches community service and outreach, encourages community and family togetherness, promotes living our Baptismal vows, and encourages practicing our faith.

We gather at 4:00 PM in one large room. The story of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is shared and then Jesus washing the disciples feet is shared. We have a short discussion on what loving and serving our neighbor means.

We then divide into three projects. Each child must be accompanied by an adult. The three projects are:

Cooking Class and Making a Meal for the Ronald McDonald House: The instructor shares about what the Ronald McDonald House does. Then we make a meal for 40 people together. We generally make it storage ready, so the Ronald McDonald House can use it for a fill in. This way, all ages can participate in this activity. (We start it at 4 years and up). Supplies needed are: someone to lead the cooking class, fodd items needed, measuring supplies, storage containters, instruction notes for guests of the Ronald McDonald House and someone to deliver to the house. The families learn about cleanliness and safety during the class.

Love “Caroling” and Flower delivery to a Nursing Home: A music leader teaches simple songs about loving God and God’s love for us. We load up in the church bus (or carpool) and go to the nursing home, where they are expecting us. We sing about 15minutes then the children hand out flowers. The residents of the nursing home love having the families visit. Supplies needed: someone who knows songs (and motions), instruments (if desired), and flowers.

Animal Blanket and Toy Making for the Humane Society: A speaker from the humane society comes to talk about caring for our animal friends and what the Humane Society does. The speaker, also, bring some animal friends. We make sewless blankets out of fleece and dog/puppy toys out of PVC pipe, dog food, and pvc caps.

A family signs up in advance for which project they would like to do. It is a lot of fun and we are generally done in an hour to an hour and a half.

Respect the Dignity of Every Human: Loving Your Neighbor

With Martin Luther King, JR. Day approaching, it is an opportunity for the church to offer a lesson or event based on our Baptismal Vows and the Commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Children will have learned in school about MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech. (Have some copies on hand, just in case).  Jesus’ “dream” of all people being treated with dignity showed through in his Parable of the Good Samaritan, his talks of the lowly as named by society, and his meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.

An event or lesson would include the telling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the woman at the Well. It would include opportunities to interact with people the children/families would not normally socialize with or feel comfortable doing so. This is a great time to expand people’s comfort zone. Some ideas include: invite someone from the homeless shelter, a family who is being helped by the food bank, people of different cultures, someone living in a nursing home, and someone who benefits from your parish outreach program.

Have the guests prepare with: what would you like us to know about you?  What is a typical day like for you?  Since we vow to respect the dignity of every human being, what are ways you feel disrespected and how can we interact with you that helps you to feel respected?

Have some activities.  If from a different culture, maybe a craft or activity from that culture.

If from an outreach program, have information about the program, a list of ways to get involved and a small project to get the children involved in the outreach program.

This can make adults feel uncomfortable, but that is why we avoid the outcast. This is a chance to learn empathy, compassion, and how to treat others with respect and dignity.

Here are some children’s books on Martin Luther King, Jr: I am Martin Luther King, Jr (Ordinary People Change the World), I have a Dream Book & CD, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.

For other people: Courageous People Who Changed the Worl (Little Heroes), First They were Children: Seven People Who Changed the World

Epiphany Event

January 6th is Epiphany. After the rush of Christmas, hosting an Epiphany event is a perfect way to celebrate the end of Christmas and the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as told by the Magi (Kings/wisemen) visitation.

My Epiphany Event is inter-generational with activities for all ages. I have stations so people can interact and do the activities that interest them. The stations are open for 45 minutes to an hour. When the time is over, we all move to Nave. In the Nave, either an Epiphany Service or an Epiphany Pageant with the Magi visitation is done.

The stations I found the most successful include (with supplies)

Crown making: crowns to decorate, colorful permanent markers, jewel stickers

Star making: wood stars, permanent markers (paint takes to long to dry)

Star musical makers: star clappers, stickers, marker

Epiphany Around the World: articles, pictures, legends and stories from around the world (by country), books, legends

Meditations (with a quiet place to do them)

Photo area with capes to become the Magi (they use the crown they made): background, props (for king gifts).

Coloring pages, stickers, and other artistic materials for young. Mazes and puzzles for older.

Star Cookie Decorating: sugar cookies (made in advance-star cutter), icing, m&ms, sprinkles, small plates, and napkins.

 

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