Can preschoolers celebrate Lent?

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This year, for the first time ever, I’m trying to do a bit of teaching on Lent with my kids.

We talked a bit about Ash Wednesday and how people put ashes in a cross shape on their face. When they went to bed I traced a cross on their foreheads with my finger, which got a little weirded-out chuckle from them. BUT they did remember it for a few days! ūüėČ

Early Lent activities for kids

The next day we started our own version of “giving up for Lent”.

Every time they do something kind or sacrificial for someone they get to put a dry bean in a jar.

The plan is that the jar will be full of beans by the time Easter comes around.

They are really getting into it, and both older boys got to add a couple beans today.

  • At supper, Daddy accidentally knocked over the salt, and Dodger (age 3) picked it up for him.
  • Earlier today, the same kid saved his last piece of “candy gum” for his little friend who was coming over for lunch.
  • Yesterday the same little guy very helpfully entertained a cranky Rex (almost 1) on the floor while I was trying to finish something in the kitchen.

Some of their deeds are obviously contrived simply to get a bean in the jar, like this afternoon when Cubbie (almost 6) jumped up from the table and put the clean cutlery away, apparently out of the blue.

However, most of their bean-worthy deeds thus far have been spontaneous. I’m really enjoying catching them in acts of service! (and as an added bonus, I’m having to remind them much less about chores!)

The best bit? When they get up on Easter Sunday, their beans of kindness will have transformed into tasty jellybeans!

Ready to try this simple Lent activity? You can start anytime. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 26, 2020), but this is an activity you could start anytime before Easter.


  • A jar
  • dry beans (or rocks, or marbles, or anything else you have onhand that is small)
  • Jelly beans or another treat
  1. SAY: Soon we will celebrate Easter. Who knows what happened at Easter? (hopefully¬†you¬†will¬†hear¬†something¬†about¬†Jesus! If¬†not,¬†feel¬†free¬†to¬†share¬†the¬†Easter¬†story¬†now.)¬†One¬†of¬†the¬†things¬†Christians¬†like¬†to¬†do before Easter is to remember Jesus’ love by showing his love to others. Each time you show Jesus’ love to others, I’m going to add a bean to this jar.
  2. Follow through, adding a bean to the jar anytime your child does something loving. When you do it, make sure to point out exactly which action was loving. This activity can have a two-fold benefit of leading up to Easter AND behavior modification ūüėú.
  3. On Easter Sunday, change out the beans/rocks/marbles for a treat.
  4. SAY: When we show Jesus’ love to others, our actions help make the world a sweeter place! Thank you for showing Jesus’ love this month.

Read a full list of simple, planned activities your kids can do over Lent in this post: 40 Lent Ideas For Kids

If you’re new to Lent, check out this comprehensive guide!

Easter articles:

 Simple Ways to Celebrate Easter as a Family
How to explain the resurrection to a child

Do you have any more great ideas for doing Lent with kids? I’d love to hear them!