"Mommy, where are the stations of the cross? Can we take a train to each station?" Your little guy might believe you're talking about physical locations, instead of historical events commemorated during Lent. The 14 stations follow Jesus from condemnation in Pilate’s court to the tomb burial. Work on Stations of the Cross crafts with your preschooler to prepare for Good Friday and Easter.
Dioramas help your little one to make Stations of the Cross more real. In the 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, your child can make one diorama for each of the 14 stations, beginning with Jesus being sentenced to death in Pilate’s court to laying his body in the garden tomb. Your child can create dioramas in various formats. She can make the 14th station in a flower pot with three empty stick crosses on one side of the pot and a cup with a stone at the opening to represent the tomb. Start this one early and plant flower seeds in the pot; by Easter, your station will be alive with plants, reminding your child that Jesus isn’t in that empty tomb.
Take a cue from the Easter bunny and use plastic eggs for a craft. In each egg, place an item that reminds your child of a Station of the Cross. Use a small paper crown of thorns or a small thorny twig off your rose bush for the first station where Jesus was mocked and forced to wear a crown of thorns. The station two egg can contain a small wooden cross made of twigs.
Many religious bookstores, especially those with a large Catholic clientele, have Station of the Cross cards. Have your preschooler glue one card on each of 14 pages of paper. Add a prayer or information about each station to make a book. Your child can make a book cover using a page from a Sunday school Lent lesson or other religious source. Purchase additional sets of cards to encourage him to make Stations of the Cross bookmarks for family members by gluing the cards onto sturdy card stock and tying ribbons through a hole in the top of the bookmarks. Encourage him to explain the bookmarks' symbolism to family.
Your little one can make Lenten placemats to remind the family of the Stations of the Cross. Use commercial cards glued and laminated in place on large sheets of manila or craft paper. Or, use illustrations for the stations provided by your church or Sunday school class. Include paper symbols for the stations that can be laminated on the placemats, such as a picture of Mary for station four when Jesus meets his mother or a red heart for station five when Simon of Cyrene takes the cross off Jesus’ shoulders. Alternatively, your preschooler can glue the station symbols to the underside of a clear plastic table cloth, arranging each station in order so she can walk around the table to visit each of the stations.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.