Ash Wednesday, the Day of Ashes, is a time for repentance and for purging of sins. Many smaller children won’t understand what’s going on, but they can still be involved with these crafts and games:
Doorknob cross. Supplies: construction paper, crayons, scissors, pipe cleaners. This is a simple craft, but one that can have a lot of meaning for the children. Draw a cross on the paper, large enough to fill the paper. Be sure the cross is large enough on the inside so the children can decorate it. Have them decorate the cross with colors, drawings, or sayings. Let the children help cut out the cross (if they’re old enough). Use the pipe cleaners to make a door hanger at the top of the cross. The children can hang the cross on their own doors and will see it every day.
Ash Wednesday worry bucket. Supplies: construction paper, crayons, scissors, glue, small plastic containers with lids (1 for each child) – like a margarine container. For this craft, the child will create a worry bucket – a place for them to place their sins and worries as they repent for them. Have the children decide a creative way to design the outside of their bucket. They can write, draw pictures, etc. Don’t forget to decorate the lid, too. When they are done preparing the paper, glue it around the small container. In the lid, cut a slot that’s wide enough to drop paper in. When the children have a sin that they’re repenting for, they can write it on a paper and drop it in the bucket.
Bad Habit Relay Race. Supplies: an even number of index cards. Divide the children into two equal groups. Discuss Ash Wednesday and bad habits that some of the children might want to be rid of during Lent. Write down an even number of the bad habits on the index cards. Divide the cards into two stacks and place them at the far end of the room. Each group of children will then race to get the cards, one at a time, and return to the trash can to get rid of them. However, the only way they can race across the room is caterpillar-style: the children line up toe-to-heel, with their feet apart; then the last child goes through the legs of the other children, then stands up with their heels touching the toes of the first person in line. They repeat this, slowly moving forward, until they reach the cards. To get back to the trash can, they simply go in reverse following the same rules.
Ash Wednesday Tree Planting. Supplies: small plastic cups, dirt, water, small tree seeds (fir, Bonsai, birch, depending on your area), toothpicks, construction paper. For this activity, the children will plant trees in the cups. Have them place the dirt in the cup, carefully plant the seed, and water it. They can also make a small sign with the construction paper and the toothpick to identify the tree or themselves. Talk to the children about how much time and effort it takes for a tree to grow and remind them that they’ll need to take care of the tree and watch it carefully to ensure it grows.