40 Activities To Involve Your Children In Great Lent

Raising our children steadfastly in the Orthodox Faith – which is, in its essence, a way of life – is not easy. With everything going on in our lives, it can be difficult to keep our hearts and minds directed toward the Lord. This is especially true during Great Lent, when the devil comes out in earnest to tear us away from our life in Christ. As parents, we struggle to find balance between our day-to-day activities and our spiritual preparation for the Resurrection of Christ. Involving your family – especially your children – in Great Lent should be enjoyable! In this post, we share a list of forty fun activities (one for each day of the fast except for Holy Week) you can use to keep your family focused during Great Lent this year.

Great Lent is a busy period full of extra services and hopefully more outreach and personal prayer, so this list is meant to help you fill in the holes as needed. You can follow it and do each activity on the day it’s assigned, choose only the days you want or need an extra activity or simply go through the entire list and highlight the ones you really like. It’s completely up to you. The important thing is to not become overwhelmed. Keeping a peaceful and prayerful spirit and home should be first priority!

8 minutes

Week 1 of Great Lent

Monday – Choose a prayer or scripture verse to memorize. Practice it daily during Lent. (You can choose one verse for the entire family, or give each member of the family their own verse.)

Tuesday – Talk about temptation and our need to resist it. Make a batch of fast-friendly cookies and leave them on the table for everyone to eat the next day. You can also read the story of Christ’s temptation by the devil to help explain this concept.

Wednesday – Order prayer ropes for everyone in the family. If you already have some, use them during prayer together.

Thursday – Smile at someone you don’t know very well and wish them good day. Share your experiences at dinner that evening.

Friday – Draw or write thank you notes to your priest, and bring them with you to the Akathist service in the evening.

Saturday – After Vespers, sit down together at dinner and talk about the First Sunday of Great Lent.  Let the children choose a favorite icon to bring to church with them on Sunday.

Sunday – Watch a Christian themed movie or show.

Week 2 of Great Lent

Monday – Fill a bag with items no longer used or needed and donate it to a local shelter or ministry.

Tuesday – Talk with your children about sin and repentance. Make plans to go to confession at some point during the Fast. It may help to have each child make a list of his/her sins to take to the priest.

Wednesday – Have the children help you prepare a dish to take to fellowship after the Presanctified Liturgy. (Or just dinner, if your parish does not have fellowship hour afterwards.)

Thursday – Have everyone write down three things they are thankful/grateful for. At dinner, talk about what everyone wrote down.

Friday – Make a “Lenten Goals” poster and put it in a prominent place. Write things your family wants to do “More Of” and “Less Of”, and allow the children input as you create the chart.

Saturday – After Vespers, discuss the Second Sunday of Lent. The teachings of St. Gregory Palamas can be quite dense for younger children. We recommend using the sun metaphor in our post on the Essence/Energies distinction.

Sunday – Perform a random act of kindness. Discuss how this made everyone feel and why God wants us to always be kind to others.

Week 3 of Great Lent

Monday – Choose one of the patron Saints of the day and read his/her story together.

Tuesday – Cook or bake a meal/snack and deliver it to a neighbor or family member.

Wednesday – Talk about greed and pride, the sins that led Judas to betray Christ and refuse repentance. How can we recognize when we are being greedy or prideful?

Thursday – Spend five minutes in silent prayer with a prayer rope, saying the Jesus Prayer. (It helps children focus better if they keep their eyes closed.)

Friday – Give everyone a notecard or sticky note, and every time they complain, have them tally a mark on the paper. Talk about the results you see and about the Scriptures insistence that we never grumble or complain.

Saturday – After Vespers, discuss the Third Sunday in Lent. Review the sign of the cross and what it means when we make that sign over our bodies.

Sunday – Light a candle and pray for someone in need of extra prayers.

Week 4 of Great Lent

Monday – If there is a monastery near you, reach out to them and plan a visit for a day in the near future. If there are none close by, pick one you might know of somewhere else and make a donation. Talk with your children about the important role monks and nuns play in the Church.

Tuesday – Bake a fast-friendly cake to enjoy together. There are many recipes out there!

Wednesday – Take a walk together around your neighborhood or a nearby park. Collect treasures you find – like rocks or leaves – and talk about how God made each and every thing unique and for a purpose.

Thursday – Read Chapter 3 of the Wisdom of Sirach together. Discuss what it means to honor your father and mother, and how this obligation before God never goes away, even when we are “grown up”.

Friday – Fast from television and mobile devices.

Saturday – After Vespers, discuss the Fourth Sunday of Lent. It may be helpful to show your children the icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and talk about what you see in the icon together. What does this icon tell us about the nature of our lives as Christians?

Sunday – Read the Akathist of Thanksgiving, Glory to God for All Things. Afterward, ask everyone to share what verse or line stood out the most to them.

Week 5 of Great Lent

Monday – Discuss prayer as an effective way to handle anger toward another person. What are some things other people do that might make us angry, and how can we handle our response to those things a bit better?

Tuesday – Fast from saying anything negative.

Wednesday – Read the stories of everyone’s patron Saints.

Thursday – Do something to help around the house without being asked.

Friday – Have a coloring night. Print out a variety Orthodox icon coloring pages and let everyone color together at the dinner table. Have each child share the icon they chose and why.

Saturday – Read the life of St. Mary of Egypt in celebration of the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent.

Sunday – Pack blessing bags and deliver them to homeless on local street corners. If this is not feasible, perhaps find a ministry or shelter that will accept the blessing bags and distribute them for you.

Week 6 of Great Lent

Monday – Fast from complaining all day.

Tuesday – Spend five minutes praying on your prayer rope for someone other than yourself.

Wednesday – If you haven’t already, you’re running out of time! Attend a Pre-Sanctified Liturgy.

Thursday – Plant something. Either in a small pot for the kitchen windowsill or in your yard. Talk about new life and the Resurrection.

Friday – Buy a tapered candle (beeswax are better, as they do not drip as much wax) and decorate it. Take it to the Resurrection service with you Saturday night.

Saturday – Read the story of Lazarus’ life, and read about his death and resurrection by Christ in the Bible. Talk about why Christ bringing him back from the dead after four days is so significant.

Sunday – Celebrate Palm Sunday together! Make palm crosses from the fronds, and put one in your car, in your prayer corner, and on everyone’s bedside tables. Then, attend Bridegroom Matins together to start off Holy Week.

What about Holy Week?

Holy Week is quite an undertaking, with a packed schedule of services and more rigorous fast. The best way for you and your children to deepen your Faith is to attend as many services as you can. However, if you find the time, you can implement these activities each day of the week:

Holy Monday – Read the story of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 24. Ask the children who we should be more like and why.

Holy Tuesday – Talk about why Christ is called the Bridegroom and why the Church is called His bride. Study the icon of the Bridegroom and talk about what the children notice about Christ.

Holy Wednesday – Discuss the sacrament of Holy Unction and why it is necessary for us. At a minimum, try to make it to this service during Holy Week, as it is crucial for our spiritual healing.

Holy Thursday – Dye your Pascha eggs red today. Read The Miracle of the Red Egg together and talk about St. Mary Magdalene and her role in Christ’s Passion. If you don’t go to the 12 Passion Gospels service, read the Passion Gospels at home as a family.

Holy Friday – Make a funeral bouquet for the Lord to place in your prayer corner. You can either go to a local florist or nursery and have the children help select the flowers they want to offer Christ, or you can pick flowers outside together.

Holy Saturday – Make a couple of the family’s favorite dishes to take to the Paschal feast after the Resurrection service. As you cook or bake together, talk about the Resurrection and what it means for us!

Get involved in the Fast, and enjoy the struggle

Are there any other fun activities you can think of to sprinkle throughout Great Lent? Let us know in the comments!

Keep Reading: How To Engage Young Children In Church

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