The season of Lent covers the 40 day period before Easter. Each year it starts on a different date (because Easter moves around), although always on Ash Wednesday. If you are looking for Lent activities for families (either your family, or the families in your ministry), check out this comprehensive list!
It is said that the 40 days reflect Jesus’ time of fasting and prayer in the wilderness after his baptism. Many people sacrifice something during Lent (like coffee, sweets, or shopping) as a way to tune their hearts back to God.
The point of sacrificing something important is to remember that God wants to be the most important aspect of our lives.
When we come to depend on a sugary snack rather than prayer during the mid-afternoon slump, Lent reminds us of our waywardness and calls us back to our first love.
(Want to understand Lent deeper? Read the ultimate guide to celebrating Lent.)
Would you like to observe Lent with your kids?
It seems like a very adult thing to celebrate, but it is possible to make Lent meaningful for children as well using these Lent activities for families.
The three pillars of Lent are
- fasting, and
These three practices are to help us grow in holiness, and kids can participate in all three, to various degrees.
Since kids don’t typically have a lot of money for almsgiving, I will be encouraging them to think of ways they can simply give to others. It may be a smile, their favourite treat, or a compliment.
With fasting, I will talk to them each individually and see what they would like to give up for a day. It could be dessert, TV, or a car ride home (taking the bus instead). They’ll be encouraged to choose their fast. As for the prayer days, any child can pray!
In my house, all of these ideas are compiled into a paper chain that I made together with my boys before Lent starts. (Although really, it can be started anytime during the season. Don’t let the date stop you from doing this!)
One year we did our activity nearly every day, but another year it slipped through the cracks (thanks to the terrible timing of COVID.) The beautiful thing about Lent is that every day is a new chance, and so is every year! It’s the ultimate way to practice a tiny, daily faith habit.
40 Lent Activities For Families
1. do someone else’s chore
2. give someone a hug
3. help someone
4. make a card for someone
5. make a craft for someone
6. do something nice for Mom/Dad
7. do something kind for the earth
8. read a book to a sibling
9. say something kind to a family member
10. say something kind to a friend
11. play with someone different at recess
12. tell your teacher one thing you like about her
13. smile at as many people as you can
14. write a letter/draw a picture for our sponsor child
15. bring some baking to a neighbour
16. give something of yours to a family member
17. give something of yours to a friend
18. wash someone’s feet
19. do someone else’s laundry
20. clean a bathroom
21. make someone else’s bed
22. set aside some of your own money for giving to church
23. use your own money to buy food for the food bank
24. fast from TV
25. fast from dessert
26. fast from candy
27. fast from a bad habit
28. fast from sweet drinks
29. fast from meat
30. fast from reading anything but the Bible
31. praise God for who He is
32. confess something to God that you feel bad about
33. thank God for your favourite people
34. pray for someone who is sick
35. sing a song of praise to God
36. kneel before God and pray
37. pray for a refugee
38. pray for someone who needs to know Jesus
39. pray for your pastor
40. read a Bible story together
If you’d like to simply print off my list and use it as a paper chain, you can download a PDF version here.
Another way to celebrate Lent with your family is to read this fictional story of Amon, a first-century boy who encounters Jesus. This book is a little too intense for kids under 8, but for older kids, it’s a great way to move through the Lent season. The story is broken up into 25 short chapters. Each chapter has part of Amon’s story, plus a short devotional.