Do you want to celebrate Pentecost with your children? It doesn’t have to be complicated! Here are some simple ideas for making Pentecost special!
“We have the right, the duty, and the joy to say that Pentecost goes on!” St. John Paul II
Pentecost is a special celebration of the birthday of the Church. As with all birthdays, we should make this a special day for our children.
The Biblical account of Pentecost (Acts 2) describes the disciples gathered together when a mighty wind fills the house and tongues of fire settle upon each one. Using these two main symbols of the Holy Spirit (wind and fire), you can easily create a memorable Pentecost celebration that you can renew and adapt each year for your family.
No need to make things complicated or fancy.
Here are some ideas you can choose from to make the day special. Don’t try to do everything!
Pick a few things that your children would enjoy and be sure to include a special prayer.
Supplies: Red clothing
Since red is the liturgical color for Pentecost you can have everyone dress in red (or have a red accessory).
We have a small prayer altar (corner) in our house where we pray as a family. I use different colored altar cloths (felt pieces) here so I put a red one out during Pentecost.
Explain to your children why the priest (and you!) will be wearing red – (a symbol of the fire of God’s love and the tongues of fire coming on the Apostles).
Supplies: balloons, crepe paper, candles, paper
Decorations are always fun for little children!
You don’t have to buy expensive fancy ones, simple is best and easiest. I like crepe paper and balloons, which you can most likely find at the dollar store. (If you want to get a little fancy you can have helium-filled balloons).
Red crepe paper (you can also include orange, and yellow for different colored “flames”) can be draped around the room. Red balloons too!
If you feel especially crafty, you can also make paper doves or “tongues of fire”. An easy way to make “tongues of fire” would be to have everyone trace his or her hand on a piece of red construction paper and then cut it out.
We made these hand “flames of fire” (see below) and we will use them behind our heads during the reading (acting) of Acts 2.
You could also use candles to decorate the room (or during family prayer time). We have battery-powered ones similar to these.
Supplies: cake, red punch
What is a birthday without some cake?
A simple birthday cake would be an easy way to celebrate. You could even make a red velvet cake.
Candles can be added on top as “tongues of fire.”
Red punch or juice.
Make sure you sing “happy birthday” and have your children blow out the candles!
Supplies: balloons, bubbles
My girls are still little (5 and 3) so we’re guaranteed to be seen playing with the balloons.
With my oldest, I’ll use the balloons over her head as “tongues of fire” – perhaps letting the air out (“pfffffffffffft”) on her head like the incoming of the Holy Spirit.
We may also pop the balloons to make a joyful noise and recreate the noise of Pentecost. Both of my girls LOVE balloons so this will be a lot of fun for them.
My 3-year-old LOVES bubbles – blowing them, chasing them, popping them.
We may just have a “blowing bubbles” Pentecost to remind us of the incoming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.
Supplies: child’s bible (My girls especially love this Illustrated Gospel for Children.)
Interactive and theatrical prayer times are great for small children.
Get a children’s bible (geared to their age) and read the Pentecost story (Acts 2:1-11) and look at and discuss the pictures.
Then, as a family, act out the Pentecost story. Grab the balloons (or crepe paper or hand-prints) and use them as tongues of fire as you re-read the account of Pentecost.
When you reach the part with the tongues of fire, pause and repeat a phrase you know in different languages (like “hello” – “hola” – “bonjour”) and look up the same phrase in an unfamiliar language.
Sing a song to the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit equipped the Apostles with gifts and fruits to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. Talk with your children about the gifts God has given them and how they can use them to spread his kingdom. (My girls are small, but we can still have a short discussion about this.)
For older children and teens
With older children, you can create posters with names of Holy Spirit – and the fruits and gifts of Holy Spirit.
Talk with them about people you know who exemplify certain gifts and how they use those gifts for good.
You can talk about how some practices of the Church have changed since you were little. Talk about the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding the Pope and bishops and leading the church.
Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate this special day with your family. Children love celebrations and this helps make learning the faith a joyful, loving experience. You don’t need to make it complicated, pick a few ideas that will work for your family and incorporate them into your family traditions during this feast. Help your children understand the importance of feast days and most especially pray with them for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your family. Share your own tips and traditions below!