Monday, March 31, 2014

Lent with a Toddler

Lucia (28 months) and I are sitting down for "school time" this Lent, which has consisted of me reading one Station of the Cross (from the book I share below) and the daily Mass readings while she colors a related coloring book page or two.  Then we have a little discussion.  It's pretty simple but has resulted in some great conversations and it's helped us focus our days around faith.  It has been so fruitful for us that I planning to continue this year round. 

I checked out numerous Easter and springtime books (both religious and not) from the library using this list and this one as my guides. As we make our way through them, I'll have to share some of my favorites with you.  Those books we've incorporated as "extra" reads before nap and at bedtime, but the heart of our "Lenten curriculum" has come from these few resources we own:

1. Magnificat - I've used our Magnificat to read the daily reading to Lucia while she colors either a general Lent coloring page or a page that relates closely to the day's Gospel.  If you don't have the Magnificat subscription, you can always find the daily readings at the USCCB website.

2. Coloring Book About Lent - I love this coloring book! It has pages that talk about some of the basics of Lent (why purple, what is Lent) and pages to correspond with specific Lenten readings, for example, today Lucia colored two pages on "The Man Born Blind" from yesterdays reading.  Hint: This is not one to get on Amazon - $1.57 at Barnes and Noble, $13.50 (for a coloring book!) from Amazon. Even with shipping B&N is a much better deal and they have a huge selection of Catholic coloring books around the same price point (we have the Catholic ABC Coloring Book and 1-2-3 Coloring Book).

3. Walking with Jesus to Calvary: Stations of the Cross for Children -  Perhaps a little too advanced for her age, Lucia couldn't maintain attention for the entire books, but she can definitely do one Station at a time (which is what we are doing - one a day).  She was very affected by the pictures which I feel were perfect - not to "cutesy" but certainly not too gory. The descriptions of each Station are definitely written for children but I don't think they are watered down.  There are many other Stations of the Cross books out there for children so if you have a great experience with another one, I'd love if you'd share!

4. Holy Heroes Coloring Book: The Passion of Jesus - We got this as part of the "Life of Jesus" coloring books set. I appreciate the detail in which it goes into the Passion - it's not just the Stations or the Sorrowful Mysteries, but a full narrative that begins in the Garden of Gethsemane and ends with Christ in the tomb.  I look forward to bringing out The Triumph of Jesus coloring book to continue the story on Easter. (Holy Heroes has a ton of other resources including a whole "Lenten Adventures" program that looks really great. I'm really hoping to add some of these resources to our home library in the next few years, but for now, I like starting small with only a few resources.  I get easily overwhelmed.)

5. My First Pictures of Easter - A board book Lucia got last year,  it is light on the words and full of pictures that make for a great jumping off point for conversations about Lent, the Stations of the Cross, and Easter.  I like to ask Lucia to tell me about certain pictures and it's always so humbling to hear her talk about Jesus with such love and compassion.  (She gets very upset about Jesus's "owies" and kisses them constantly.)

6. Stations of the Cross Coloring Book - We don't actually have this, but if we were to add one item to what we already have for this year, it would be a coloring book that Lucia could use along with our Stations book.  The Holy Heroes book we have works pretty well, but having something with the Stations specifically numbered would be great. 

I photocopy the coloring book pages for Lucia to color so I have access to the "masters" for years to come.  I'm actually hoping to someday take the coloring books apart and put the pages in page protectors in a binder along with other resources I print out and find elsewhere to help us celebrate the liturgical year.  I am definitely not there yet, though.

I'd also like to eventually incorporate some projects/activities but I either need to take baby steps or I end up doing nothing at all.  We did make these Lenten bean jars on Ash Wednesday, but I constantly found the beans dumped on the floor so they are staying out of sight until we can try again next year with a more mature three year old. 


If you are looking for Easter basket ideas for toddlers, you may want to check out my post from last year of 50 Easter Basket Ideas for One Year Olds.  Most ideas would work well for the two year old and preschool crowd as well.


  1. This is great! I think one of the best things about the blogging community is the great recommendations. I pinned this and will most likely be buying most of these next year! Thanks for putting it together.

  2. I love Holy Heros!! We did the Lenten Adventures last year. The best part is you don't have to follow it every day! Walking with Jesus to Calvary: Stations of the Cross for Children looks awesome and I may have to pick it up for next year. Thanks for sharing! I also make photo copies of many coloring books although I find that sometimes just letting them coloring in a book is easier. Depends on the book. God Bless!

  3. Great ideas, Mandi...and a great reminder to me of what I can be doing with my 4 and 5 year old, too! (even the 7 and 9 year old!)


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