image Forty Activities for Forty Days for Junior Students

More resources from Sr. Pat Carter

Monday before Ash Wednesday – Activity 1 

Discuss Lent – a time to turn away from sin and to build up our relationship with God.  It is forty days long. Lent is a time of repentance.  Repentance means to express sadness and sincere regret for doing wrong or for not doing something right.  It is easy to say “I’m sorry.”  But when we show repentance we mean that we are sorry and that we are really going to try hard not to do it again.

Tuesday before Ash Wednesday – Activity 2 

Discuss what will happen tomorrow on Ash Wednesday.  Where do the ashes come from?  The palm branches of last year’s Palm Sunday celebration are burned and the ashes are collected.  A teacher will make a cross of ashes on our foreheads.  We are invited to leave the cross on our foreheads as a sign that we want to grow in our friendship with God.  We want to live our lives like Jesus.    [If you have a classroom old palm branch or ask students to bring in old palms from home – burn it with the class and add it to the school’s supply of ashes – be prepared to have to burn just a little of it because it can take awhile for the whole branch to become ashes]

Ash Wednesday – Activity 3 – March 5th

  • Change the prayer cloth to violet/purple.
  • Take off every else except a candle, cross and bible.
  • Put away all other icons of faith until Easter.
  • There were three traditional ways we were invited at the service/mass to live Lent, what were they?  [Praying, fasting, and giving alms]
  • What do each of these activities look like if someone is living them?

First Thursday of Lent – Activity 4 – March 6th

Have the students make a Change-of-Heart Tree to show their progress in keeping their Lenten resolutions.

Assign a group of students to design the trunk and bare branches of a tree out of brown paper.  Have them glue it to a piece of white paper (about 3 ft x 2 ft.) Invite the other students to cut out purple hearts and write their Lenten resolutions (promises) on them. Have each student cut out seven leaves from green paper.  Post the banner and collect the green leaves in a container.  Tell the students that once a week, whenever they feel that they have kept their Lenten promises, they may glue a green leaf around their purple heart.  By the Easter Triduum which begins on Holy Thursday evening, the Change of Heart Tree will be complete, symbolizing renewed life in Christ.

First Friday of Lent – Activity 5

Bury the ALLELUIA.

Make a large sign of ALLELUIA (you can laminate it).

Get an empty pot of sand or soil and bury the alleluia until we use it at Easter.  Alleluia is a word of celebration that comes from our Easter celebration.  During Lent we do not say or sing this word.  We are fasting from the word so it will have renewed meaning for us at Easter.

First Saturday of Lent – Activity 6

Clean your bedroom.  Lent is about spring cleaning our hearts.  When we clean our environment it helps us to be ready to go inside and open our hearts to God.

First Sunday in LENT

Sundays are not included in the forty days of Lent because we celebrate the Lord resurrection at Mass.  We take bread and wine and remember that Jesus told us to relive the Last Supper on Sundays.  “Do this in memory of me!”  So the Church is dressed in purple, we sing about praying, almsgiving and fasting.  Sometimes special songs are sung or less music is used during the Sundays in Lent.

First Monday of Lent – Activity 7

PRAYING during Lent: take a few minutes to ask your students how they are going to pray during these Lenten days.  Invite them to write a prayer that they can say every day during Lent.  The prayer can express repentance, thanksgiving or intercession.  Invite them to make it a personal prayer to God.  God loves to hear the voices of children in prayer.

First Tuesday of Lent – Activity 8

What is SIN?  Sin is anything we say, think or do that turns us away from God.  God is always watching us and caring for us, however, there are times when we take our eyes, ears and hearts away from God’s presence, God’s voice and the way of life God invites us to live.  Sin is a reality for us.  Sometimes it is a sin of omission [not doing something that is good or right to do] or sin of commission [doing something wrong or hurtful.]  In our world there is a lack of awareness of sinfulness.  In fact, there is an idea that “if I do/say/think it is okay, then it is okay.”  This is a lack of conscience formation.  There are right words/actions/thoughts and there are wrong actions/words/thoughts.  We need to teach young people that they need to make good choices.  They need to acknowledge that there is an objective right and wrong in many situations i.e. it is wrong to murder someone.

Second Wednesday of Lent – Activity 9

FASTING FROM SAYING NO when my response should be YES

Today we are going to work on fasting.  Fasting means we stop doing something so we can grow closer to God.  When responsible people ask us to do something that is good, it is right to do it.  Sometimes we don’t want to do it.  But the right choice is to do it.  So today, when our friends, our teachers, our principal, our parents, or our brothers/sisters ask us to do something good/right, we are going to do it.  We are going to FAST from saying no and doing what we want to do. When we fast in this way, we make good choices and we grow closer to God.  We also get along with everyone and have a more peaceful time.

Second Thursday of Lent – Activity 10

ALMSGIVING of our kindness

Today let us look for ways to be kind to one another in our classroom.

During Lent we are asked to giving ALMS.  Alms can be money, time, our talents, and our kindness.  So let us focus today on finding ways to be KIND to our classmates, teacher and family members.

Second Friday of Lent – Activity 11

VISIT the Church and Look at the Stations of the CROSS

This activity could take several days (there are fourteen stations).

If your school is close to the church you could break up the Stations into three visits.  Visit 1 – Stations 1-4; Visit 2 – Stations 5-9; Visit 3 – Stations 10-14.  You can explain that the stations were originally created as a way for illiterate people to pray in the footsteps of Jesus.

If you want to do all fourteen stations – I have Stations of the Cross for Children prayer service that you pray as you move through the moments of Jesus’ passion.  Keeping the stations simple is what is required at this age.

Second Saturday of Lent – Activity 12

Do a good deed for someone in need.  The little act of kindness can bring joy to someone who is not expect help.  Look around and see what you can do.

Second Sunday in Lent

Second Monday of Lent – Activity 13

What’s With the Pretzels?

Ask students to show you a common posture for praying (kneeling, standing with hands pressed together in front of them, sign of the Cross)

Explain that, in the early Church, Christians often prayed with their arms folded across their chests, each hand on the opposite shoulder (demonstrate of them – like someone who does receives a blessing at communion).  Invite students to stand and to fold their arms in the manner described.  Together pray the Our Father holding arms in prayer posture.  Next show the students a twisted pretzel, show how the pretzel imitates the prayer posture that they used.  Explain that, because we are called to pray and fast during Lent, the pretzel has come to be seen as a Lenten food because it reminds us of the prayer posture of the early Christians and it is a simple good that we can eat in place of a treat.

According to tradition, an Italian monk invented the pretzel as a reminder to his brother monks to pray during the season of Lent.

Distribute plastercine and invite students to roll the clay into a “rope” about 10 cm long then twist it into a pretzel shape.

Use this opportunity to talk about prayer postures in our personal prayer as well as at Mass (standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, genuflecting, sign of the cross and so on)

Second Tuesday of Lent – Activity 14

Read a book with a Lenten message.  Some suggestions: The Giving Tree; Something Beautiful; The Golden Rule; Wangari’s Tree of Peace; How to Heal a Broken Wing; Stone Soup; Every Human Has Rights; One Hen; “Why are all the Taxi Drivers..?” The Good Garden; Sit-In; (any book from Equity & Inclusive Education Kit).

Ask students to summarize the key/main ideas.  How does the book fit the theme of Lent?  Does it talk about prayer? Fasting? Almgiving? A search for Justice? The Cross?  Let students work at the connections between the book and Lent.  Encourage them to think
“outside the box”.

Third Wednesday of Lent – Activity 15

St. Joseph is the patron saint of Canada and the foster father of Jesus and husband of Mary.  PRAY this prayer to Saint Joseph today.

Gentle and humble Saint Joseph, you were chosen to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus.  Your life was guided by faith with trust in the Lord and his angels.  Be with me, as my spiritual father.  Guard me and protect me wherever I go.  Keep my heart open to the needs of others as yours way, and help me to always obey the will of God in my life.  Amen+

Third Thursday of Lent – Activity 16

* modify for your class as needed

Cross reflection – invite your students to draw a cross.  The cross was an ancient form of capital punishment – criminals who did crime paid with their lives.  This was done in a public display in order to be a way to prevent further crime.  Take a crucifix and show it to the class.  Jesus’ body was nailed to the cross.  The nails would have passed through his wrists so that the weight of his arms would not rip down.  Some crucifixes show Jesus’ hands nailed to the cross but historical evidence disproves this idea.  There was a little platform for Jesus to stand up and his feet would have been nailed together.  Early during the time on the cross the crucified person would have strength to hold themselves up on the platform.  But as the time passed and they became tired, the fluids of their body would pool in their feet and ankles.  Those who were crucified died by asphyxiation, meaning that their diaphragm got tired of moving up and down with the arms extended and the person could not get enough air into their lungs.  Jesus died on the cross not because he was a criminal.  Jesus died on the cross to show us how much he loved us.  That is a lot of love.

Third Friday of Lent – Activity 17

Bring in 100 pennies and place them on a table/desk in the centre of the class.  Tell students to imagine that these pennies represent all the earth’s resources and wealth.  Ask for 10 volunteers to represent the world’s population.  Divide the pennies in the following manner (according to the UN statistics)

20% (2 volunteers) get to share 85 pennies

20% (2 volunteers) get to share one penny

60% (6 volunteers) get to share 14 pennies

Point out that 20% of the world’s population enjoys 85% of the world’s wealth and abundance (explain that most people in Canada/US can be included in this 20%)

Ask if anyone can name the three main ‘disciplines” of Lent:

Praying, fasting, and almsgiving

Get students to go to The Hunger Site .

By clicking the Give Free Food button – sponsors of the site pay to give cups of food to the poor.  This is one way to give alms.  You can visit the site daily and click to give food to the poor.  If you want more information about the hunger site – go to About the Hunger Site.

The Hunger Site provides simple, effective, feel-good ways to address an urgent, specific humanitarian need:  the eradication of world hunger.  This is a simple online action to do just that.

Third Saturday of Lent – Activity 18

Thank everyone who does anything for you.  We may think we are grateful every time but we can become a bit lazy.  People all around us are serving us in so many ways.

Third Sunday in Lent – All around the world there are adults preparing to become full members of the Church.  At the beginning of Lent they move from being called catechumens to “The Elect.”  On this Sunday in Lent the Elect participate in the first scrutiny.  This is a “mini exorcism” whereby the Church community prays with the person to help them to resist evil and to acknowledge their need for God.  Everyone attending mass prays for the same thing for themselves.

Third Monday of Lent – Activity 19

Listening to Jesus

Lent is a good time for us to think about how clearly we listen to Jesus.  Do we take the time to talk to Jesus in prayer every day and to listen for his message for us in our hearts?  What keeps us from listening to Jesus?  What helps us to listen to Jesus?  Sit up straight with both feet on the floor, quietly and perfectly still, for as long as you can.  Close your eyes and let your heart and soul listen to Jesus.  As students become quiet the teacher can pray in a quiet voice “Loving Jesus, quiet our hearts.  Help us to pay attention and hear your message to us this week. Amen.”

Third Tuesday of Lent – Activity 20

Why is Easter celebrated on a different day every year and not the same day like Christmas?

“The dating of Easter was settled definitely at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. (a long time ago).  Many Church leaders felt strongly that Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday, to commemorate the day of Jesus’ Resurrection.  So the decision was made to celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the time of year when the number of daylight hours and night hours are approximately the same all over the earth) or the first day of spring.”  CATECHIST magazine, February 2010 page 31-32.

Bring in a calendar that shows the phases of the moon.  Show the students when the full moon after the Spring equinox takes place.  Go to the first Sunday after that – that is Easter Sunday.  Usually Passover happens around the same time of the year because Jesus was celebrating the Passover with his apostles at the Last Supper which is the Thursday before Easter Sunday.

Fourth Wednesday of Lent – Activity 21

We are called to be “salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13)  Salt, in the way Jesus spoke of it, can season our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving…The symbol of salt can help flavour and preserve our commitment to Jesus as his faithful disciples.  Today, salt is so common that we speak of how we ought to eat less of it.  At one time, however, salt was more valuable than gold.  Before refrigeration, freezing and canning techniques were developed, salt was one of the few ways to preserve food.  It allowed people to travel far carrying their food with them.  (Long before fast food and restaurants and grocery stores too.)  Around 2,700 B.C.E., an explanation of different kinds of salt, how to extract it, and how to use it was circulated in China.  The word ‘salary’ comes from the word salt, a frequent form of pay for soldiers and others in ancient Rome. Adapted from CATECHIST magazine, February 2010 pages 36-37  Give each student a package of salt and invite them to be salt for the last half of Lent.

Fourth Thursday of Lent – Activity 22

Give drink to the thirst.  Remind students about our precious natural resource of water.  There are children around the world who don’t have clean water to drink.  Students can help by making an effort not to waste water, for example, by turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth or by during the water out of the tap and not bottled water.

Have students research what bottled water is doing to water supplies around the world.

Fourth Friday of Lent – Activity 23

What is Laetare Sunday?  Laetare (Lay-tar eh) Sunday is celebrated on the Fourth Sunday in Lent.   The origin of the name comes from the first words of the Latin Entrance Antiphon at Mass:  Laetare, Jerusalem which means “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.”  Traditionally, Laetare Sunday is a day of rejoicing within this solemn penitential season.  It is hard to miss the visual sign of the celebration:  The priest wears rose-coloured vestments (although Lenten purple is still permitted).  The reason for this joyful observance was explained in a homily by Pope Innocent III in 1216:  “On this Sunday, which marks the middle of Lent, a measure of consoling relaxation is provided, so that the faithful may not break down under the severe strain of Lenten fast but may continue to bear the restrictions with a refreshed and easier heart.”  Give the students a pink heart and invite them to renew their Lenten promises for the week ahead.

 Fourth Saturday of Lent – Activity 24

Fast from the electronics today.  Become aware of how much energy you use to play with the computer, or Xbox or iPod, or iPad, Gameboys…etc.  See if you can hold the fast all day.  At 8:30 p.m. join the world in turning off all the electrical light in your home.  Sit in the dark for an hour to show your respect and love for the Earth.  Cities all over the globe will be turning off the lights!  Join them!!

Fourth Sunday in Lent – Laetare Sunday

Laetare means “rejoice” in Latin.  It is the halfway mark about our Lenten journey so we are encouraged to rejoice.  The Church will be decorated in rose coloured garments.

The Elect along with the whole church community experience the Second Scutiny.  Usually each scrutiny is held at a different mass so each mass community gets to experience one scrutiny.

Fourth Monday of Lent – Activity 25

Pray the First Sorrowful Mystery with your class.

Agony in the Garden – Matthew 26: 36-39

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated.  Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”

And going a little further, he threw himself on the ground and prayed,

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

Our Father / 10 Hail Marys / Glory Be

It is intended that while people are praying the prayers that they are reflecting on the scripture story.

Fourth Tuesday of Lent – Activity 26

Write a letter of appreciation to your parents.

Each and every day our parents take care of us.

This is a great way to give alms.  Say thank you to your parents for their love and care.

Fifth Wednesday of Lent – Activity 27

Stony Hearts – a symbol of what we still need to change.

Give each child a rough stone not a polished type.  Ask the students to reflect on how they may still need to remove some stony-ness from their hearts.  Do they need to forgive someone who has hurt them?  Do they need to act with kindness toward someone who they have hurt?  Lent is a time to give our stony-ness to Jesus and he will fill our hearts with much love.

Fifth Thursday of Lent – Activity 28

Pray the Second Sorrowful Mystery with your class.

The Scourging

Part of what Pilate told the soldiers to do was whip Jesus many times.

So the soldiers did their job.

Our Father / 10 Hail Marys / Glory Be

It is intended that while people are praying the prayers that they are reflecting on the story.


Fifth Friday of Lent – Activity 29

Take a song with a Lenten message and look at the words with your students.  Reflect on the words and then if you are able sing the song together.

The Servant Song

Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you;

Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, we are trav’lers on the road;

We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the nighttime of your fear;

I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.

I will share your joy and sorrow til we’ve seen this journey through.

Or any similar song….remember no Alleluias yet.

Fifth Saturday of Lent – Activity 30

Fast from sweets today.  Many years ago children were invited to fast from their favourite food for the whole six weeks of Lent.  It is a long time to keep a fast.  If you would have spent money on the sweets, give that money to the Share Lent collection taken up at Church tomorrow.

Fifth Sunday in Lent — The third scrutiny of the elect takes place today.  It is common that a collection for Development and Peace is taken up today.  This collection is called Share Lent in Canada.  The money collected today is used for the ongoing support of justice projects in the developing world.  Some people prefer to make this donation on Good Friday.

First Monday of Lent – Activity 31

Watch a Godtube video about a Lenten theme.  Look at the Catholic Culture update for an example that will fit for this week.  Discuss the video’s message with your class.

Fifth Tuesday of Lent – Activity 32

Petition Prayer – Children learn to PRAY by praying.  They need to learn to ask God’s help for themselves and other people.  It is part of our life as Christians to care about others.  The teacher asks the class, “Who should we pray for today?  Who needs God’s help today?”  So the student says, “My Nonna.”  The teacher says, “let us pray for Susie’s nonna and everyone’s nonna today…We pray to the Lord.”  Ask students to say together, “Lord, hear our prayer.”  Ask students to say that after every prayer.  Continue until students have had ample time to pray…if you want to ask every student to have one person/situation ready for which to pray as you begin so you can move from student to student.

Sixth Wednesday of Lent – Activity 33

Discuss the concept of the Kingdom of God.  If we lived lives of LOVE like Jesus did, how would our school, our neighbourhoods, and our city be changed.  Jesus wanted everyone to be included in our circle of belonging.  Jesus wanted everyone to have everything they need like food, water and shelter.  Jesus wanted us to feel safe and protected.  What would have to change in how we live for the Kingdom of God to become a reality right now!

Sixth Thursday of Lent – Activity 34

Ask your students “What are the three Lenten practices?”  [fasting, praying and almsgiving]  “Give me an example of how we have been practicing these three actions since Ash Wednesday.”  Which is your favourite activity?  Why?  Which is your least favourite activity?  Why?

Sixth Friday of Lent – Activity 35

Pray the Third Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary:

The Crowning with Thorns.

The soldiers mocked Jesus and placed a crown of thorns on his head because people had said that Jesus was the King of the Jews.

Thorns can grow very large and when the crown was forced onto Jesus’ head it caused a lot of pain and some bleeding.

Our Father / 10 Hail Marys / Glory Be

It is intended that while people are praying the prayers that they are reflecting on the story.

Sixth Saturday of Lent – Activity 36 – April 12

Call a grandparent or a relative and tell them that you love them very much.  It will bring joy to their day!

Sixth Sunday in Lent – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Ask your parents to bring you to Church to listen to the Passion.  The Passion is the telling of Jesus’ story from his arriving in Jerusalem on the Friday of his last days on earth to his dying on the cross for us.  Everyone gets a palm branch to re-enact Jesus riding on a colt into Jerusalem.

Sixth Monday of Lent – Activity 37 Beginning of Holy Week

“Hosanna” is a word that was prayed and sung at mass yesterday.  As Jesus rode on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem people put palm branches on the road to lessen the dust.  They waved the palm branches in the air and sang “Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.”  Read the gospel account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  (Luke 19: 28-40)  What part of the Mass do we hear the words “Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” [Holy, Holy]  Every time we attend mass those words are repeated.

 Sixth Tuesday of Lent – Activity 38

Read Mark’s gospel account of the Plot to Kill Jesus.  Mark 14:1-11.

Jesus’ words come true, here we are 2000 years later hearing about the kindness of the woman who anointed Jesus.  Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus?  Have you ever betrayed someone in a small way?  It doesn’t have to be for money.  Sometimes we speak behind someone’s back…that is a small betrayal.  Pray to not be tempted to betray anyone.

Seventh Wednesday of Lent – Activity 39

Read Mark’s gospel account of The Passover with the Disciples.  Mark 14: 12-21, 26-31.  Read the first passage (12-21) then discuss “What is Passover?”  We must remember that Jesus was a Jewish man.  Every year the Jewish people celebrate Passover – when the Spirit of Death passed over their homes so they could leave Egypt and be slaves no more.  Their doors were marked with lamb’s blood so the plague would not touch their families.  There is a very special meal that the Jewish people eat at Passover, it recalls the events of the time of Moses and the exodus of the Jews into freedom.  So on Thursday night of Passover Jesus celebrated with his disciples.

Read the second part of the passage (26-31).  Can you see the scene in your mind?  Peter was one of Jesus’ good friends for three years.  Peter wants to protect Jesus.  But Jesus knows that when the scary events of later that night take place, Peter will fall away too.  Have you ever had a similar experience?

Seventh Thursday of Lent – Holy Thursday – Activity 40

On Holy Thursday Christians throughout the world remember the Last Supper.  Bring a picture of DaVinci’s last supper to class.  Ask the students to look at the picture or wall-hanging (relief) carefully.  If they were present at the Last Supper, hearing Jesus say that he was about to die, what would they think?  This is the time that Jesus started “The Mass.”  He asked his disciples and us to remember him at the breaking of the Bread and when the cup is passed around. Christians have been celebrating the Eucharist since that first Holy Thursday.  Read Mark 14:22-25.

The Sacred Paschal Triduum – Good Friday

This is the day that Christians throughout the world remember that Jesus died for us.  We remember as a Church at 3:00 p.m.  No masses are celebrated today; only communion prayer services.  The hosts that were consecrated at mass on Holy Thursday night are served today.

Seventh Saturday of Lent – Holy Saturday

During this day Christians reflect upon what it would have been like to sit around missing Jesus very much.  This is like a wake, when someone we love dies.  We sit and remember all the things that the dead person did and said.  Mary, his mother, must have been filled with sadness.  His friends must have been very sad that Jesus was gone.  In fact they were hiding in the upper room because they were afraid that the people who killed Jesus might do the same to them.

EASTER SUNDAY – Resurrection of the Lord

Jesus rises from the dead.  How exciting!  No one has done this before.  He is no longer in the tomb.  His friends go to visit the tomb and the stone is rolled away and his body is not there.  Alleluia!  Jesus is risen like He said.  Alleluia!  Dig up the Alleluia, wash it off and post it in the prayer corner.  If you have a cross without a corpus…display it as a sign of Easter joy.

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