Lent is a special church (Liturgical year) season where we spend the 40 days (not counting Sundays) from Ash Wednesday, which is the first official day of Lent, to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, remembering Jesus’ suffering and death.
Growing up Catholic, we observed Lent each year. Many Catholic families focus on the three pillars of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. But any Christian family can incorporate Lenten traditions, services, and more!
The weeks of Lent are a great opportunity to help your whole family, from your young children to your older kids, focus on Jesus and reflect on our own sin as well. Most importantly, we remember the penalty He paid for our sins so we can be forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven.
What Do Families Do During Lent?
Celebrating Lent is a faith-building, tangible way to teach your children about how much Jesus loves them and brings the salvation story to life. That’s what it’s all about: the path Jesus took to the cross, from His temptation in the desert to His death on a tree. The culmination of this season is Easter Sunday and the Resurrection!
To help you and your busy family on your Lenten journey, I’m sharing 50+ creative ideas and simple activities that your family can do during Lent.
And Lenten practices aren’t just about “reading Easter stories”–in fact, we usually hold off on reading about the Resurrection until we are most of the way through the season. Lent is a solemn time, especially during Holy Week and on Good Friday, so many of the ideas reflect this approach.
There are also hands-on ideas, children’s book suggestions, scripture passages to read, Lenten activity ideas, and even an idea for reenacting the Stations of the Cross (more on that later if you’re unfamiliar!).
You’ll also find a free printable at the end of this post with all the Lenten activities listed.
Don’t feel like you have to do all of them, of course. Whether you have time for five activities or 40 activities, these ideas provide a great way to be purposeful in your observance of Lent as a family.
50+ Lenten Activities for Families (Simple and Meaningful)
1. Download this printable Lenten calendar to get you started. Color in a “stone” on the path to Lent each day.
2. On Ash Wednesday, read Joel 2:12-18 together. This passage is about fasting and repenting, one of the main focuses of Lent. Talk with your children about what it means to “return to the Lord”.
3. Attend an Ash Wednesday service together. Read this article about ashes on your forehead to prep beforehand.
4. Give thanks by making a list of things you love about Jesus and your family.
5. Explain almsgiving to your children. Incorporate this practice into your Lenten season by filling a box with toys to donate.
6. Spend two minutes in silent prayer each day. This is harder than you think!
7. Learn to draw a Lenten cross from Lacy at Catholic Icing.
8. Start a Lenten 40-day journey Bible reading plan with your whole family.
9. “Fast” by having your entire family give up screen time for a week. (Hard, but worth it!) If you can’t fast from screen time for a week, at least try doing it for three days.
10. Make a jelly bean jar, each color representing a different type of Lenten prayer.
11. Remind your children that their sins are “paid in full” by making a coin-covered cross.
12. Talk with your child about what they can “give up” of their time to help someone else, like doing a sibling’s chore or shoveling a neighbors’ driveway clear of snow.
13. Read a Lenten-themed book with your child. This is one I’d recommend.
14. Choose a ministry that you want to support and have your children brainstorm how you can support that ministry with your time, talents, or treasures. Put it into practice!
15. Send a kind note to a family member or friend who could use a reminder of how much Jesus loves them!
16. Use strips of paper to make a Lenten countdown chain.
17. Read a family Lenten devotional together.
18. Pray for the “peace of God” over your family, your community, and the world.
19. Read the Bible story about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness from Matthew 4:1-11 (the reason we have 40 days of Lent is based on this account in the Scriptures!)
20. Have an “Act of Kindness” day where you do a good deed for someone that you normally have a hard time helping (maybe a sibling?) ;) Make their bed or clean their room, as an example.
21. Complete a Lent crossword puzzle.
22. Are you or your child struggling with forgiving someone? Pray that God would help you remember the grace and mercy given to you by Jesus and for the strength to forgive an offense.
23. Give up social media for Lent (as a teen, this would be very challenging but definitely sacrificial.)
24. Complete this Lent Butterfly Craft with your preschooler.
25. Listen to a Lenten Hymns playlist with your family.
26. Focus your hearts on Jesus by listening to the playlist above while you color these Lenten coloring pages.
27. Listen to or read daily Lenten Reflections from Lutheran Hour Ministries (a bible-believing group of Lutheran churches produce these devotions). They are best for older kids and adults.
28. Use this free printable Lenten prayer chain to count down to Easter Sunday with 40 prayer topics and Bible verses.
29. Make a Christ the King printable crown and display it in your home. This is a great activity for preschoolers! Need crafts for a toddler? You can find my toddler Lenten craft ideas HERE.
30. Make a Holy Week box.
31. Try these simple family activities for Holy Week with daily Scripture readings.
32. Watch the Jesus’ Storybook Bible video about Jesus’ crucifixion: The Sun Stops Shining
33. As we get closer to Easter, ask your younger child this question: The Easter season reminds us of new life. Where do you see new life around you? (animals, flowers, buds on trees, etc might be some answers)
34. Read The Parable of the Lily. If you’d like, buy an Easter lily and display it in your home starting on Easter morning to reinforce the story!
35. Make the gospel in an eggshell during Holy Week. This would be a fun Sunday School lesson.
36. Create a Stations of the Cross booklet. Stations of the Cross tell the moment-by-moment story of Christ’s journey to the cross. They are most often seen in Catholic churches (have you ever noticed them placed around the sanctuary? Some are very ornate and others are simple.) You can see an example in the photo below–this is similar to the Stations we had in my church growing up.
You can walk through the Stations of the Cross with your children using this simple printable book.
37. Make a handprint Easter prayer.
38. If you have an older child who enjoys art, encourage them to paint “crucifixion art” as a vivid reminder of Jesus’ death on the cross. Find an example HERE.
39. Teach this Old Testament object lesson about animal offerings to help your child understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us and how He fulfills prophecy.
40. If you have a middle-school-age child, have them read what Catholics call the Works of Mercy as Jesus describes them in Matthew 25:31-46. Then encourage them to put this teaching into practice by choosing an act of service to perform during Lent.
41. Make Palm Sunday palm branches. You can find a palm branch craft plus more day-by-day Holy Week activity ideas in this post!
42. Read the Biblical account of Palm Sunday from John 12:12-19. If you have younger children encourage them to wave their Palm branches and march around saying “Hosanna!”
43. On Holy Thursday, celebrate the Last Supper at a Maundy Thursday service. The meaning of this service is taken from the passage in Matthew 26:26-29, where Jesus gives the “words of institution” and declares that He is the one who will die for their sins and that the practice (sacrament) of communion is done in remembrance of this world-changing event.
44. Make unleavened bread.
45. Talk to your kids about Good Friday. Here is an article I wrote for GoMinno teaching you the best way to navigate this conversation.
46. Purchase Christian Easter basket gifts. Have your children help you pick out an Easter gift for someone else as well.
47. Color this Station of the Cross (carrying the cross) page and read the Bible story of Jesus’ going to the cross from Matthew 27:32-37.
48. Use a set of resurrection eggs for Holy Week.
49. As you reach the end of Holy Week now is a great time to read some children’s books about the Resurrection. Find our recommended list of Lent and Easter books for children HERE.
50. Watch The Beginner’s Bible: Easter on YouTube with your toddler or preschooler. Encourage them to retell the story on their own!
51. Dye Easter eggs together. Talk about how Jesus changes us by washing away our sins like the eggs change color.
52. Once your spiritual journey through the Lenten season has concluded, enjoy your Easter egg hunts, and the great celebration of Christ and His resurrection! He is risen indeed!
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