google-site-verification=_AyRPvVpVTlkA4OSLOYs38MFpDU3qMUoVeCKEhSwMT4 Free Printable Lesson Plans: Free Printable Lent, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week Activities

Free Printable Lent, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week Activities

Mardi Gras--also called Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day and Shrove Tuesday--anticipates Ash Wednesday and Lent in the Catholic, Orthodox and some protestant Christian churches. These observances countdown to holy week and the Easter Triduum. Shrove Tuesday falls at a different day each year with the movable Easter feast. In 2015, it's Tuesday, Feb. 17. Although the term Mardi Gras is used synonymously with the Carnival ("farewell to the flesh") celebration, it's actually one day. Here are activities children can do to learn more about Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Pray, fast and give alms. Mardi Gras is the last day of ordinary time before Lent, the 40-day spiritual pilgrimage that follows Christ on his journey through the desert where he was tempted by Satan. As Jesus fasted, Catholics are called to imitate. Fasting means giving up self-centered practices and practicing selfless acts. The principal virtues of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving (donating to those in need). At Ash Wednesday mass, the first religious event of Lent, the faithful are marked with ashes and told to "turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."
Confess sins. For Catholics, Mardi Gras is more than just a day to party before the fasting begins. The traditional name "Shrove Tuesday" more accurately reflects the purpose of Mardi Gras. To be shriven means to be purged of sin and purified by acts of confession and reconciliation in the Sacrament of penance. On Shrove Tuesday, Catholics go to confession, pray, repent and attend prayer services.
Explore with printable Lent lesson plans. Operation Rice Bowl has free Lenten printables. Catholic Mom offers free printable Lent worksheets, puzzles, coloring pages, crafts, games and activities. Children can color Bible pictures, read from the Gospels, follow mass readings, pray the rosary and other Catholic prayers. Printables help reinforce lessons.
Enjoy Pancake Day. Traditionally, during Lent, people abstain from eating meat, sugar, sweets, oil, butter and fats (hence the term "Fat Tuesday"). To use up these ingredients so they would not be in the home during Lent (and hence a temptation), Catholics made pancakes. That's why it's called Pancake Day.

Abstain from bad, practice good. Giving up things (fasting) is a spiritual exercise. Catholics fast from meat on Fridays (in remembrance of the death of Jesus). Many give up chocolate or other sweets. Fasting is particularly healthy for everyone, not just Catholics. It purges the body and soul. Fasting helps the mind focus on spiritual things. Lenten fasting resembles the dietary laws of other religions, notably Kashrut (kosher) Jewish laws, Buddhist and Muslim Ramadan fasting practices. But it's not just about giving up bad habits. It's about learning new healthier ones. So encourage children to give up something they like (candy) and work on improving a behavior--manners, tidiness, getting along.

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education.