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This post will give you lots of ways to have a holy Catholic Lent with Littles!

Lent is the liturgical period leading up to Easter. It is a beautiful and holy time in the church to prepare to observe the crucifixion and death of Our Lord, as well as celebrate His glorious resurrection! 

Lent is a period to prepare our hearts and minds to receive Jesus at Easter. 

It is also a time to grow in holiness.  

Today, I will share this info-packed blog post to help you have a successful and holy Catholic Lent with littles!

How do I do Lent with Kids? (Table of Contents)

Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving Plan for a Catholic Lent with Littles

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the three pillars of Lent. 

You should focus on these as a family and individually

Throughout Lent, we can pray, fast, and give alms in order to help us become more attached to God and be unattached from things of this world. 

Here is a breakdown of what each one means.

Prayer during a Catholic Lent with Littles

Prayer is a crucial way to prepare our hearts and minds to receive Jesus at Easter. Prayer also draws us closer to God.

 Each person should decide on a special prayer or devotion that they would like to take up for Lent. 

As a family, you should also choose a devotion that you can do together during Lent. 

Some examples of personal or family devotions include:

  • praying the rosary
  • praying the Morning Offering
  • praying the Angelus at noon daily
  • praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 pm daily
  • reading scripture
  • reading a spiritual work
  • studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • praying the Stations of the Cross
  • praying or attending Mass daily (in addition to attending on Sunday)
  • attend Adoration frequently
  • make time for an At Home Holy Hour
Every family member who has received their first Penance should also examen his or her conscience daily and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once during Lent. It is powerful and beautiful to go receive this Sacrament as a family.

Fasting during a Catholic Lent with Littles

During Lent, Catholics over the age of 14 must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday (February 14th in 2024) and on all Fridays of Lent. This also includes Good Friday.

In addition, Catholics between the ages of 18-59 must fast on Ash Wednesday as well as the Fridays of Lent. This means avoiding snacks on these days, and eating one regular meal for dinner. Breakfast and lunch should be meals that are smaller than dinner. 

The fasting and abstinence rules do not apply to pregnant women or to those who cannot abstain and/or fast due to medical reasons. These groups can choose an alternative penance that is appropriate (such as giving up coffee, juice, soda, or other favorite treats or goodies).

Fasting helps us simplify our meals and also helps us detach from certain foods and other goodies. 

In addition to the church’s fasting and abstinence requirements, each person in your family can fast from (or give up) something else they are attached to. You can also choose something to fast from as a family. 

Some examples of things you can fast from personally or as family include:

  • social media
  • television
  • a favorite toy (great one for toddlers!)
  • music
  • video games
  • screen time during certain times of the day
  • gossiping
  • complaining
  • other vices
  • taking a car when you could walk or take public transportation instead


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    Almsgiving during a Catholic Lent with Littles

    Again, almsgiving helps us detach from money and other things of this world and consider others who a less fortunate than we are.

    We use Lent to do some decluttering of things that we no longer want or need. I feel like this is where Spring cleaning originated! We can then give away things that could be of use to someone else.

    Another way to approach almsgiving, is keeping a collection of money you may have used to purchase coffee or dessert. Collect the money you would’ve used for that and donate to your church or a favorite charity.

    You could also donate food to a food pantry or give your time to help at a soup kitchen.

    Each person can decide on their own almsgiving and you can give alms as a family as well.

    Ash Wednesday Preparation and Observance for a Catholic Lent with Littles

    Once you have decide on your personal and family prayers, fasting and almsgiving for Lent you can start planning for Ash Wednesday. Here are some ways to observe Ash Wednesday with littles.

    Bury the Alleluia

    During Lent, we do not sing or say the Alleluia during Mass. “Alleluia” is an exclamation of worship that comes from a Hebrew expression meaning “praise the Lord!” We omit this joyful expression during Lent to remind us of the penitential time to prepare for Easter. 

    To teach this to your children, you can simply write the word “Alleluia” on a piece of paper and put it inside a ziploc bag. Then, find a spot in your yard to physically bury the bag. While you process to the burial location, you can sing “Alleluia” one last time.

    After attending the Easter Vigil or after attending Easter Mass on Easter Sunday, be sure to joyfully “resurrect” your Alleluia baggy by digging it up!

    Attend Mass on Ash Wednesday and receive ashes

    Make it a priority to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday and receive ashes as a family. Receiving blessed ashes reminds us of the following verse from Genesis 3:19:

    “By the sweat of your brow

    you shall eat bread,

    Until you return to the ground,

    from which you were taken;

    For you are dust,

    and to dust you shall return.”

    Here is a nice coloring page for children to enjoy on Ash Wednesday.

    toddler coloring an Ash Wednesday coloring page

    Kid Friendly Lent Devotions for a Catholic Lent with Littles

    So far, I have discussed how to focus on the three pillars of Lent as well as how to observe Ash Wednesday.

    After you choose your individual and group devotions, you can also choose some kid friendly devotions below to make Lent more hands on and memorable for your littlest Catholics.

    Sacrifice Beans

    This tradition can be completed by all members of the family from ages 2 and up. 

    To prepare this tradition, simply obtain an empty jar, bowl or cup and place it in a prominent spot in your home. 

    Then, fill another jar, bowl or cup with dry beans (any kind will work!).

    Throughout Lent, family members can put a bean in the jar when they make a sacrifice or do a good deed. 

    For example, if toddlers take their plate to the sink or put their shoes on the first time mommy asks, then they can put a bean in the jar!

    For older children, they could make their bed (or their sibling’s bed) without being asked or help mom and dad with the dishes. They could offer extra prayers or sacrifice screen time or a favorite treat. Any of these would then allow them to place a bean in the jar.

    On Easter morning, the dry beans turn into jelly beans!

    dried chickpeas in mason jars

    Decorate the home to reflect the liturgical season

    Help your entire family enter into the season of Lent by decorating your home and home altar to reflect the season of Lent. Older children can help in decorating, and all children will enjoy making Lent crafts to add to your Domestic Church’s decor. 

    On your home altar, you can add a purple cloth to reflect the season since purple symbolizes penance and sacrifice. You will also see the priest wearing purple vestments during Lent. 

    I sewed some simple rectangles of fabric into a tabernacle veil for our parish. You could use the same method to make some purple decor for your home altar.  Find the tutorial here.

    You can also put up crosses around the home to help your family meditate on Christ’s crucifixion.

    You can also consider adding desert plants such as succulents and cacti to symbolize Jesus’s 40 days in the desert.

    Many parishes will veil their statues and holy images on the 5th Sunday of Lent (March 17th in 2024). This day was formerly known as “Passion Sunday” to mark the beginning of Passiontide – the time we really buckle down and prepare to focus of Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross.

    Simply obtain pieces of purple fabric to cover any picture or statues of saints, Our Lord, and Our Lady in your home.

    You can also have your children make a paper chain. The paper chain is a great way for children to see visually how many days are left until Easter.

    You will need 4 strips of construction paper for each of the 40 days of Lent, and 7 white, yellow or gold strips for the Sundays in Lent and Easter (Sundays are not included in the 40 days! Sundays are always supposed to be like “mini Easters – even during Lent).

    Here is a simple explanation of how to make a prayer chain for Lent.

    Use a special family Lenten devotional book

    This one from Magnificat is easily doable with children daily. It has a daily scripture passage and other beautiful devotions, prayers, and tasks for your family’s Lenten journey.

    Here is another beautiful and simple one from Dumb Ox publications.

    Pray Stations of the Cross with friends and other families with small children

    Praying with others is a wonderful way to spend Lent! Many parishes will pray the Stations of the Cross weekly during Lent, so be sure to check your parish’s schedule. The Stations of the Cross are a great devotion for kids because there is singing (the Stabat Mater), movement from station to station, and familiar prayers included (such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be).

    If the full on Stations are too much for your kids, meet up with friends and consider praying a modified version of the stations. For example, instead of praying 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be at the end of each station, pray Our Father after station #1, Hail Mary after station #2, Glory Be at station #3, Our Father at station #4, etc.

    Or, consider praying 2 stations everyday, and by the end of the week you will have completed all 14. Repeat each week.

    stations of the cross

    Attend daily Mass with your children

    Mass can be hard to attend with littles. The number one piece of advice I have is for families to attend Mass more frequently. Yes, even with small children! The more they go, the more opportunities they will have to understand how Mass works and to also increase their attention spans. Lent would be a great time to try to attend Mass other days during the week besides Sunday.

    Make or buy a set of Resurrection Eggs and/or Stations of the Cross Eggs

    This is a great devotion for kids. Here is an explanation of how to make your own Resurrection Set and Stations of the Cross Set.

    Here is a set of Resurrection Eggs to purchase.

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      Keep a Lent Journal or Calendar

      Here are versions for different ages.

      This one is perfect for children who would like to write their own reflections in addition to color.

      This journal can be used for daily Lenten copywork exercises. It also teaches children about various holy symbols each day of Lent.

      This is a simple calendar for children who like stickers, coloring and it requires little to no writing.

      Feast Days During Lent

      St. Patrick's Day

      Two major feast days that fall during Lent are St. Patrick’s Day and the Solemnity of St. Joseph. These are both a must to observe and celebrate with kids! Be sure your plans include attending Mass for these feasts! Many parishes will go out for one or both of these feast days with beautiful Solemn Masses, especially on the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

      St. Patrick’s Day

      St. Patrick’s day always falls on March 17th. This is the perfect day to learn about the Holy Trinity since St. Patrick taught the Irish people about the Trinity using a Shamrock! Here is a great craft and book from Catholic Icing to help you teach children about the Trinity.

      There are so many fun and festive foods associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Some favorites to try are healthy Shamrock shakes and bell pepper and potato frittata for breakfast, Irish soda bread, and, of course, traditional corned beef and cabbage.

      The Solemnity of St. Joseph

      St. Joseph is the foster father of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He was the first (with Mary) to see Jesus at His birth, and St. Joseph raised Jesus and taught Him to pray. A great celebration is in order for the Solemnity of St. Joseph! My favorite liturgical cookbook, Cooking with the Saints, goes all out for this solemnity with lentil and rice soup, St. Joseph’s Day Breadcrumbs, Bread Crosses, and honey balls, so be sure to check it out for this feast!

      You can also easily make bread crosses and other St. Joseph themed bread loaves for your St. Joseph’s Day Table by purchasing a few cans of pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store and sprinkling each loaf with sesame seeds.

      St Joseph Feast Day Table

      Catholic Lent with Littles - Final Thoughts

      Lent isn’t supposed to be about torture for any of us! It’s about detaching from sin and things of this world and drawing closer to Jesus.

      For example, if a child is getting squirmy during a special service we give them grace and take them out. We don’t bring tiny tots to night time prayers or events. If your kids are little, pray the Stations of the Cross at home with pictures or Stations of the Cross Eggs so that they can ask questions/discuss. 

      Have reasonable expectations.

      Don’t try to do it all.

      Do the best you can to bring everyone in your family closer to Christ.

      You decide on the most important things that you can follow through with and genuinely try your best!

      Wishing you a blessed and fruitful Lent with your littles!

      II also have lots of ideas for a prayerful Holy Week! Read about it here!

      Pin it for later

      pin of lent children praying the stations of the cross

      If you would like to listen to my thoughts on Lent with Littles in podcast form, please visit Homeschool Connection’s Homeschooling Saints Podcast! The host, Lisa Mladnich, was a joy to chat with during my interview!

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