Ash Wednesday For Kids (Traditions, Printables, & Resources)

Ash Wednesday is the first day in the season of Lent. Lent can be observed by all Christians, and it is a beautiful way to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us and prepare us for the Easter season. During Lent, we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the devil. We do extra prayers, fasting, and almsgiving during this season of Lent. Ash Wednesday has many traditions for Catholic families and ways to observe this day, and also, anything you are doing for the length of Lent will start on this day. So lets see Ash Wednesday traditions for kids and families

Catholic Family Ash Wednesday Traditions

  • Go to mass- In the United States, Ash Wednesday is actually not a holy day of obligation, but it is one of my favorite days of the year to take Catholic kids to mass! Going to mass is a great way to kick off Lent and communicate to your kids that his is an important day. 
  • Everyone get ashes! I love love love that everyone that goes to mass gets ashes, even the babies! We remember that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Little kids get a big kick out of this because even if they aren’t communion age, this is something they get to participate in. 
  • Fast. So there are only 2 days that the Catholic church requires fasting (although you can voluntarily choose more) and fasting is required for everyone ages 18 and above (barring health issues). Fasting means that you have 1 regular sized meal, and 2 small meals which combined are not as large as your regular meal. Abstaining from meat is required for everyone age 14 and above. You can read more about the fasting requirements here. At our house all children abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent regardless of age, and on Ash Wednesday it can be especially good to encourage simple eating. The idea here is that you’re sacrificing, not eating lobster tail. Even for younger children I encourage skipping unnecessary snacks for Ash Wednesday. 
  • Choose what do give up for Lent. Lenten fasting starts on this day, and I have a post here with sacrifice ideas for families. Again, little kids aren’t required to do this, but I always have them give up something. Even the preschoolers can choose a sacrifice during Lent. For super little kids, I let them choose some toys to box up for the 40 days
  • Talk to your kids about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. Did you know the ashes we use on Ash Wednesday are the burned up palms from last Palm Sunday? Be sure to tell your kids! Why do we get ashes on our foreheads? As a reminder of our own mortality. What is Lent? Definitely be ready to talk to your kids and answer questions.

Bury The Alleluia!!!

Did you know that Catholics don’t say the word “Alleluia” all during Lent? Not again until Easter! It is really fun to make a big silly deal of this with kids, absolutely banishing the word. It will be missing from mass, and the Alleluia song will be missing from mass. A really fun tradition during Lent is to “bury” the Alleluia the night before Ash Wednesday. You sing Alleluia songs, clap, dance, make a big deal, then put it in a box and leave it there until Easter, not saying it anymore. 

I have a version where you can print an Alleluia for this tradition here.

Eventually we made a more permanent Alleluia for burying during Lent that we use year after year, and I love it! It’s worth the effort to create one. 

Bury the Alleluia

Set Up A “Lentscape” Or Lenten Home Altar

This is a well loved tradition in our home! You can see how to set up a beautiful Lenten home altar here for just $10!!! This can also be updated throughout the season to stay fresh and encourage your family to stay on their Lenten path. 

Lenten “Decor” For Catholic Homes

So you may actually want to simplify during Lent rather than “decorating”, but we do have a Lent box that comes down from the attic on Ash Wednesday. You can see my video about what’s in our Lenten box here

I highly recommend watching this short video and starting your own Lent box! That way, as you make, collect, and develop resources for your family to use during Lent, you can use them year after year, helping to reduce your work each year. This will also allow you to build your library of Lenten resources slowly so you don’t overwhelm yourself. 

Also, update your home altar to include Lenten things. 

Ash Wednesday Dinner

I like to make an extra special deal for dinner on Ash Wednesday, and because the liturgical color for Lent is purple, I like to put down a purple cloth on the table. So obviously you want to eat simple food, but my favorite meal to serve is a meatless soup (in this case, split pea) and to shape the bread that goes with it like the crown of thorns. This really sends the message to my family that this is a big day, and important season, and it revolves around Jesus’ sacrifice for us. 

You can find full directions for this Ash Wednesday dinner here.

Lenten Candles (Like An “Advent Wreath”)

How many of you have Advent wreaths during Advent? Well you can have a Lenten cross during Lent also! It’s the same concept as an Advent wreath, adding one candle each Sunday and I have a full post here on how to make and use your own. This also starts on Ash Wednesday.

Also, your Lenten candles don’t have to be shaped like a cross! You can find another variation of this tradition here and build your own for just $3!

Counting Down The Days In Lent

For Anything You want to do to count down the days of Lent or to do throughout the entire season, Ash Wednesday is the day it starts. I’m going to share some of my favorites with you. We do not do every single thing every single year, but I do like to mix it up.

A crown of thorn to encourage extra sacrifices and good deeds. This is probably my favorite! I share all the details in the post.

Sacrifice beans. A very similar concept to the crown of thorns but with an easier set up. 

My printable Lenten calendar starts on Ash Wednesday and counts down all the days of Lent so kids can track it themselves! It’s free to print. 

You can also track your Lenten sacrifices on this printable. You color each 1 section each day that indicates whether or not you met your sacrifice goal for the day. Each day is a new day, even if you already “slipped up”. 

Set out your almsgiving boxes for collecting extra money for the poor during Lent.

My printable Lenten Planning Pages will help you plan this whole season and ensure that it includes meaning throughout. 

Ash Wednesday Crafts For Kids

I love this matchstick cross craft from Kinder Craze for Ash Wednesady. So cute and perfect!

Faith Filled Freebies also has this adorable printable Ash Wednesday craft for kids

Catholic Inspired has a similar printable Ash Wednesday craft.

Kinder Craze also has this printable Lenten emergent reader book for kids, which looks absolutely adroable.

The Symbolic Holy Week & Easter Cookbook is sure to bless your family in the upcoming seasons! Read more now.

Be sure to check out my Page of Resources for Lent! It’s full of links and ideas!

Comments

  1. I'm catching up after being away from the computer a few days, and your blog is LOADED with fabulous ideas! Day after Day of really good, meaningful ideas to help our children understand Lent – you are a blessing to us all! ~ Kathy

  2. I just started teaching a 3rd grade CCD class, and could not thank you enough for the wonderful ideas on your blog!! They are amazing and extremely helpful!

    Thanks again!!

    ~Madison

  3. I was looking for some material to teach kids from grade 1, 2, 3 & 4 on Ash Wednesday. You made my day with some wonderful articles & teaching. Thank you & may God Bless you.

    Regards, Niranjan

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