Lent With Kids :: Sacrifice Beans
Mardi Gras season is in full swing! Many of us have had our first king cake or attended a ball. We’re getting ready for our kids’ Mardi Gras school projects, and figuring out where we’re going to sit along parade routes. But with Mardi Gras, comes Lent. And as we celebrate this Mardi Gras season, many of us are also thinking about prayers and penances for the season that follows.
Finding ways to teach your children about Lent and to include them in this time of mortification can be hard. Do you expect them to fast? Should they choose something to give up? What kind of prayers are they able to pray? We want our kids to know about their faith and to actively participate in it, but there are some things that can feel out of place.
Something I stumbled upon for Lent with kids a few years ago was “sacrifice beans”.
Ultimately, during Lent, we choose penances, things that we fast from in an effort to detach from worldly pleasures. But, something else that we can choose to do, is to make sacrifices daily for others and to offer them to the Lord. Sacrifice beans encourage even our youngest kids to do this.
To start, I bought a bag of kidney beans and I cleaned out a small plastic dish. I placed the dish on our kitchen table where everyone could see. Each time one of my children would choose to make a sacrifice for someone else they would get to put a bean in the jar.
The nice thing about this is that it works for different age groups.
My six-year-old can choose to sacrifice what he is watching on TV, so that his little sister can watch her show. Whereas my three-year-old might offer to share a yellow crayon with her little brother. Both of those required them to make a sacrifice and to do something for someone else, but in a way that they can grasp and understand.
Little sacrifices can really shape who we are. I once heard a priest say in a homily “little things lead to big things”. If my kids can learn to make little sacrifices at home, then one day when they go out into the real world, they’ll have the tools they need to make bigger sacrifices for the people they encounter. And ultimately, that’s my goal as a parent right? To teach my kids how to be good and kind to those around them and to lead them closer to Christ.
Each time we see our kids make a sacrifice, we acknowledge what they did, tell them to say a small prayer offering their sacrifice to God, and then we let them put a kidney bean in the plastic dish. On Easter Sunday morning, our sacrifice beans turn into jelly beans! And throughout the Easter season, we get to enjoy the jelly beans.