Introducing Lent to children

Introducing Lent to children

Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday

Lent can be difficult concept for some children to grasp, it isn't as exciting as the build up to Christmas like Advent is. However Lent can be used as an opportunity for both children and adults to share their faith and grow closer to God.

So where to start?

An excellent method would be to begin where with a concept that the children are familiar with. Children are very familiar with journeys - they travel to school, to see relatives, on holiday, etc   Journey's have a begining and end just like Lent.  Every journey has a purpose, just like Lent.  

Often journey's require preparation just as Lent does e.g For school - preparation is made by ensuring that lunch is packed, as well as PE kit, books and school bags. There is a clear and defined objective. The journey when travelling to school is to obtain an education.  Just as a journey has a starting point, so does Lent - Ash Wednesday, and in the same way that a jouney is prepared for, Panacke day - Shrove Tuesday is used to prepare for the onset of Lent  

Pancake Day – Ask any child if they like pancakes and you'll be hard up to find a refusal. The learning experience through enjoying their pancakes is a good one to capitalise on. They know about the day and the discussion that ensues will develop their understanding of its purpose.

Why do we have pancake day? 

Pancakes are made to enable us to use up foods that are traditionally not consumed during Lent because they contain ingredients such as fat, butter and eggs.

Cupboards have neen emptied and pancake day is a day of feasting filling pancakes with lots of sweet and savoury fillings. So as they are enjoying their pancakes begin a conversation with them:

 What is their favourite sweet filling?
 What is their favourite savoury filling?

and asking them why they think that we eat pancakes on shrove Tuesday?

Explain to them that Pancake day is also called Shrove Tuesday and that 'shrove' means to confess.
So, while Pancake day is a day of celebration it is also a time to begin thinking about the things we have done wrong. (don't dwell on this as it's a discussion for Ash Wednesday)

On Shrove Tuesday we also put away our alleluia's in a box.  

The service begins like this it's a good description of what it means:

'When we prepare for winter we put away summer things and take out our mittens and boots.  Today we prepare ourselves for Lent by putting away the Alleluia and taking out the palms to burn to ashes.  Today, the shouts of Alleluia fade and are buried, the ashes are prepared and we begin our pilgrimage.'  (our journey)

The whole service can be found by clicking here. 

  • Encourage children to make their own Alleluia box. Cover a box in brown paper.  It has to be a box with a lid that can closed.  
  • Then get them to write and illuminate 'Alleluia's' to put into the box.
  • Put the Alleluia's in the box and close the lid until Easter Sunday opening as part of the service on Easter Day.

So on Pancake day the preparation begins, we eat up the rich food, we pack away our Alleluia's and tomorrow we begin our lenten journey towards the cross.

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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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