How to Make an EASY (and cheap!) Crown of Thorns for Lent

These crown of thorns are so cheap and easy to make, you can make them with your whole classroom! (They’re also great for at home, but easy enough for a classroom environment) Every child takes one home at the beginning of Lent. Each time that child does a good deed or makes a sacrifice during lent, they get to remove a thorn from the crown. Check it out!

Black clay with toothpicks in it

What you need to craft these Lenten Crown of Thorns:

  • Cheap Play-Doh
  • Toothpicks
  • Small paper plates (something sturdy, like Chinet brand or Styrofoam plates)

Sound too easy? 😉

Get yourself some really cheap Play-Doh. I got mine from Dollar Tree. I got 1 can of yellow, 1 red, 1 blue, and 1 green for $1. Then, mix all of the colors together so you have a bunch of brown. (Because blue is such a strong color, you might only need to add half the can of blue. Try half first- you can always add more.) The basic concept behind mixing brown is mixing all 3 primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). Once you’ve mixed your brown, put it back into the containers.

Now take your box of toothpicks and cut them all in half. This can be easily done with scissors, but don’t use your favorite scissors for this. Cut several at a time- it will go faster than you think.

When you’re ready, give each child about half a can of Play-Doh, and have them roll it into a long coil. (That’s right, I said “coil” and not “snake” because you may as well take the opportunity to introduce your children to art vocabulary, am I right?)

When the coil starts to get really long, break it in half and keep rolling until the coils are about as big around as your finger. Then, place the 2 coils beside each other, and twist them together. (If you’re working with older kids, you can make 3 coils and braid them together.) Form the twist into a circle, and pinch the ends together. We set ours on small paper plates when we were finished.

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Now it’s time to add your toothpick “thorns”. Push them into the Play-Doh pointy-side-out so they look nice and sharp. Give each one a little bit of a wiggle when you insert it so they’re not too hard to pull back out when the Play-Doh dries.

Play-Doh and toothpicks made into crown of thorns

That’s it! Send each student home with the crown of thorns and directions to remove one with each good deed or sacrifice he or she makes. The Play-Doh will dry within a few days, but you can start using it before it does.

I did this with a lot of success with an entire classroom full of 2-year-olds! They loved it, and so did their parents. Although my whole preschool class made these with no problems, check out what my 3-year-old insisted on making:

Black Play-Doh with toothpicks in it

Since I don’t believe in making children craft a “right” way, this is what Julian’s crown of thorns looked like. And you know what? It worked just fine! 😉

You’ll find all of my Lenten resources for kids here
More Lenten Resources For Kids


  1. Great Idea, Lacy!
    We made ours for church out of cans of play doh last year and it worked great, but we just let the kids pick their color.
    I love mixing the colors to make them brown.
    I think we will do this tomorrow for our family crown instead of making the salt dough!


  2. Sorry for sounding thick(and I’m not naturally crafty so please forgive me), but how do you mix the different colours of play-doh? My daughter’s stuff won’t blend at all, you just get lumps of each colour. Is it a brand thing or should I put it in some kind of electric mixer or just knead harder?

    • Just knead the colors together by hand. It doesn’t take that long. Any brand will work. You might just need new Play-Doh.

  3. and I always thought that “snake” was the proper artistic term…. just kidding! lol I like this idea and I just bought some cheap playdoh for my little boys. Now when they mix it into a mess, I can save it to make a crown of thorns!

  4. I think we’ve got some of that “brown” play doh on hand already ! 😉

  5. Wow – just stumbled across your blog. What a GREAT idea!!! I may just have to steal this for a future lesson! Thank you! 🙂

  6. I am in love with this idea. My CCD class will be making this today. I have 9 kiddos and I hope they enjoy making it. I made one too, I have a list of different good deeds. I will ask if we can all bring our crowns back after Easter and share what our good deeds were and how we felt about doing them.

    Love your site. Thank You for making teaching about our faith fun.

  7. Mary Gottlieb says

    Mine is a weekly class….So we posted our crowns and instead of
    removing the thorns, each week at RE class we took artificial
    mini flowers and slipped them onto the thorns, representing
    the promised good works for the week. By Easter, the children
    brought home lovely crowns of flowers as their fulfilled
    promises to the Lord.

  8. Siobhan McCarthy-Nye says

    Thanks for the Catholic resurrection eggs idea. I will make some this weekend and I will put mine on some oval/egg shaped foam instead of the hearts. Loved your mass booklets and your whole website.
    We appreciate your ideas for making our home full of brilliant beautiful faith and fun for the Lord.

  9. Thought I would share a prayer I made in searching for a prayer to go with this Lenten activity.
    Dear Lord, It makes me sad to think about the Crown of Thorns upon Your Holy Head. I desire to withdraw the thorns by offering my every thought, word and act of today. I unite these offerings to the merits of Your Most Holy Crown for the salvation of sinners. Let this Crown remind me of Your passionate love for me. I pray for the grace to respond as Jesus did and to entrust myself completely to God. Amen.

  10. Such a good Idea thanks

  11. I love this! I used it today for our little preschool co-op and the kids loved it. I also wanted a way to let the parents know what to do with the crown of thorns once they got home so I came up with this little rhyme for each child to take home:

    My crown of thorns is here.
    If I do something nice,
    Or make a sacrifice,
    I can take a thorn out,
    Then hurray! I will shout,
    For the Lord’s resurrection will be nearer!

  12. Cheryl Dias Pinto says

    I love this idea except I was wondering if they would keep it at home or since the class has no place to store them. Would it acceptable to have them make a list of sacrifices to share with others to or should it be private

  13. And what Biblical lesson are you teaching your children bt doing this?

    • This particular lesson actually happens to be a tool to help children learn to make sacrifices and do good deeds during Lent, but many of the projects here stand alone and are paired with biblical lessons of ones own preference. Obviously the crown of thorns is biblical, so it could be paired with anything relating to that.