Since I've still got plenty of beads and yarn to work with, I tried to figure out a fun Lenten craft that would use them up!
I lucked upon some cheap foam sheets at Walmart and put the two together. Fun was the result!
Since Ash Wednesday falls on the day before Valentine's Day this year, I decided to combine my Lent and Valentine's Day crafts. To prep my students for the upcoming craft, I spent Tuesday night's lesson explaining to them the purpose of Lent and why we prepare through prayer and sacrifice. We spent a good portion of the class going through the Triduum and why that is considering the most sacred time of year for Catholics. Since Jesus was willing to sacrifice so much for us, it's only fitting that we return His love by showing our love for Him by loving others.
So this coming week, we're going to be doing Valentine's to Jesus, but instead of simple "I love you Jesus" messages, we're going to be offering LENTEN Valentines. I'm having the kids mark down things they'd like to both give up as a sacrifice and do for others as a sign of love. They'll put their ideas onto the foam sheets and frame them out with decorations and symbols of their faith.
To further prepare, I mocked up these samples:
The first one is a combination of Love Letter and Sacrifice Beading. I took 40 purple beads to signify the 40 days of Lent and strung them along four strings of yarn. For each time the child resists temptation, a bead can be moved down the line. This is a good way to help children see the progress they're making and give them a sense of accomplishment. The beads along the bottom are red, white and blue. They weren't chosen because I was feeling patriotic. Instead, I chose them to provide special meaning for "gifts of love" done by the child.
Red is to remind us of the pain that sometimes comes along with sacrifice. Jesus gave us the gift of Eternal Life, but it came at the cost of His Blood. Thus, when we sacrifice things during Lent, we should aim to sacrifice things that might be a little difficult (like video games, candy, fast food or shoe shopping!).
White is to remind us of the purity of God's gift. The Father did not force the Son to sacrifice Himself for us. Jesus was not guilty of anything. Instead, Jesus's motive for coming to earth to die was pure. His Sacrifice was driven purely by love. Our sacrifices duing Lent should also be driven by love.
Blue is to remind us of the Blessed Mother. She, too, consented to take part in these Sorrowful Mysteries because she knew it was necessary for God's children to return to Heaven. When I explained this to the kids last week, I likened Our Lady to a firefighter's mother.
If a firefighter knows a baby is at the top of a burning building, what does he do? He runs up to the top of the building to save that baby! It's his job! It's what he chose to do with his life because he cares about others and wants to spend his life helping them!
Would his mother object to him trying to save the baby? Would she have jumped in front of him and sacrifice the life of the baby? No. Why? Because she understands he has to save the baby. She knows the baby would die without her hero son, and so she suffers the fear and pain of losing her son because being a fireman is who he is.
Just like that fireman was born to save lives, Jesus was born to save humanity. Thus, Our Lady consented to the fear and pain that went along with seeing Her Beloved Son die so that we could all gain eternal life. In my Lenten meditations, I always tend to stick with my sacrifices better when comparing them to hers. If she could do that, I can give up fries and junk food, ya know?
So I put the blue ones in there in case the kids want to do something similar.
Put a magnet on the back and you can hang it up on your fridge so you can keep track in an easy-to-reach spot!
The next one is a horizontal frame that includes three "give up X" and three "do X for others" items. I alternated them and to denote which was which, I placed either a heart (for loving others) or a cross (for sacrifice) above or below the corresponding picture.
I'm a terrible artist, so forgive me. I used Sharpie markers for this one. I chose three typical sacrifices to showcase as ideas: Fast food, chocolate and mean / angry language. For the "love others" items, I chose organization, prayer and monetary donations. Obviously these pictures can vary based on the child's choices. I liked putting the "Lead me to Your Cross, dear Jesus!" at the bottom, though. It just seemed to fit. Sacrifice undoubtedly leads us to Christ, and loving others through things like prayer and help are about as Christ-like as you can get!
I chose to make slits in the frame to give the smaller foam piece a place to anchor into. No glue necessary! Just make the slits with a knife or pair of scissors.
Finally, I made the more "traditional" Valentine card. It's very simple and made mostly with the little foam stickers I found in my travels. I did end up hot gluing the red piece onto the white background for this one.
Fish on Fridays, remembering to make my bed in the morning, and making a concentrated effort to pray with faith - no empty words here!!!
So those are just a few of the fun little projects you can do with your kids / classes. It will give the children a chance to really think about and express their love for Jesus while preparing for the Lenten / Easter season.
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