Lent should look different. Our prayer and practices, our routines and environments. To represent that visually, I like to really change up my classroom for Lent. After school Friday, (we have a teachers' institute Monday, so really the kids will see it just one day early) I took down some of our extra posters and decorations, packed up a few statues, etc. to help the room look a little more simple. Then I went about filling the space will lots of reminders of the purpose of Lent. This bulletin board is a big visual (somewhere around 5'x5') and is the first view when you walk in the room. I pulled out this lovely San Damiano Crucifix and then lettered the tradition prayer before a Crucifix that is used in the Stations of the Cross. Fast and simple, but bold and eye catching.
That bulletin board is right above the prayer space in the corner of our classroom, so I also added a crown of thorns, candle, and a letter board with "pull up weeds, plant good seeds," a shortened version of the Fulton Sheen quote, "We can think of Lent as a time to eradicate evil or cultivate virtue, a time to pull up weeds or to plant good seeds. Which is better is clear, for the Christian ideal is always positive rather than negative." All our sets of Stations of the Cross prayer books and other Lenten reflection books are gathered in this corner as well.
Kendra from Catholic All Year sent me a copy* of her Printable Lent DIY Bundle to try in my classroom, and it is awesome. She used her graphic design skills to update a few of the long standing Lenten traditions of their household, and the set includes a great collection of tools for kids to understand and grow through the Season of Lent. The set is in the Catholic All Year shop, and I just saw it is on sale for $8 (marked down from $20!) so now is the time to grab it for this Lent.
I've got our set hung in the main hallway at school, right above a prayer table that can be used by any of the kids and staff. Since it is hanging in a main hallway, we'll be using all the clip art medallions as a calendar for the Season of Lent. Included are Sundays, Lenten Weekdays, and all the Saint Feast Days that could fall during Lent, no matter how late or how early the Season starts. (I've got all those extras stashed away for the future!) You can see a close up of the medallions in the photos below, and included in the set is a short kid friendly bio for each of the Saints that could be read on those days. There is also a great Pray, Fast, Give poster to use as a title and some powerful Lent Saint/Scripture/CCC quotes (pictured above) to round out the display.
(*You know I only share things I've used and loved. All opinions my own.)
Included in the set are printables and instructions for making a Lenten Sacrifice Bean jar, but I already had this Sacrifice crown, so I went with that. Add a little purple fabric and a burlap runner, and it makes for an eye catching reminder of the season.
The set also includes little sheets for personal Lenten disciplines and a full page to post the Lenten disciplines for your family or classroom.
I'm going to keep the calendar up for all of Lent and mark the day with this little paper crown of thorns as we move through the Season. It also would work great as a count down where the kiddos each morning have to find and take down the medallion for the day. The size of the medallions (a little over 2") would also be super perfect for a pocket chart and calendar time in a younger classroom. I think it's a versatile set that could work in many levels of classrooms or grow with your family no matter the ages of your kids.
On my Notes from the Saints board (you can see more at #notesfromthesaints) I did one quick quote from St. Maximilian Kolbe and then asked my homeroom to look up and add some favorite quotes from other Saints about Lent. There's a stack of purple index cards and thumb tacks, so I hope they keep adding to it throughout the Season. I've added in my metal envelope some Lenten bookmarks for them (I keep prayer cards, Saint cards, little copies of Saint quotes, etc. here for them to grab as they walk out the door if they want.) These bookmarks are actually the Bible Margin Doodle "stickers" in my Etsy shop, just printed on cardstock. All digital downloads in my Etsy shop are 50% right now, so if you've been waiting to get any of the sets, now's the time!
And finally, I purchased this Stations of the Cross Coloring Book from Catholic All Year (along with the extended license for use in my classroom). I plan to actually use copies for all of the kids for a Lenten retreat later in the month, but for right now, I wanted to have a set of the Stations hung prominently during Lent. I love the traditional art of these stations, so they were just what I was looking for. I asked some early finishers to help color them, with the basic instructions to keep Jesus in white and Mary in blue and then to do whatever they wanted. Well, next I saw, Jesus was wearing a different colored neon garment in each station. But, alas, this is their classroom, and if they liked it, it's all fine. ;) I laminated and trimmed them and have them hanging on our windows, giving them a stained glass illusion.
That's how Lent looks different in my classroom! Do you have any great ideas to share about setting the tone for the Season in your home or classroom?
You might be interested in these posts on:
Lent Activities for Kids (Including songs & video playlists, printables, and more)
Lent Books for Kids and Adults (2018)