Updated February 2019!
Following is a comprehensive list of stories, devotionals, coloring pages and activities for Lent for children and teens of all ages. All material is non-denominational and can be easily used by Catholics and Protestants alike. The material is divided by age and category (stories/devotionals). Lent-related subjects covered by this material include prayer, salvation, forgiveness, generosity and Christian living.
Be sure to also check the list of free resources for Easter for even more stories, illustrated kids’ devotions, videos and fun activities.
Lent Daily Devotional Books
Unless otherwise noted, the following devotionals deal with topics related to God’s love for humankind, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and having a close relationship with Jesus today. Some, such as John 3 and John 1:1-14, are Bible chapters with colorful illustrations that bring the text to life and make it easy to understand.
Preteens and Teens
Arts and Crafts Activities
Image courtesy of Lotus Carroll via Flickr.
Updated February 2019!
Valentine's Day is an annual holiday celebrated around the world on February 14. It began as a feast honoring Saint Valentine but is now celebrated as a holiday dedicated to love and friendship. (Adapted from Wikipedia)
Following are some great stories, videos and arts and crafts activities for children for this special day.
For children ages 1-4
For children ages 5-7
For children ages 8 to 11
Updated November 2018!
Christmas is a great time to curl up on the couch together and enjoy a good Christmas movie. Following is a list of some Christmas classics that are not only entertaining but also meaningful. These children’s movies, cartoons and music videos help children remember that Christmas is about more than just giving and getting presents – it’s about love, gratitude and God’s wonderful gift to us in giving us His Son, Jesus.
Click on the links to watch any one of these Christmas videos online.
It’s a Wonderful Life - George Baily is a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others. When he loses a large sum of money, he contemplates suicide on a bridge on Christmas Eve. This brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born. (This movie has English subtitles and you can download it as well using the link at the bottom right hand side of the video)
Miracle on 34th Street (1955 made for TV version) - Macy's inadvertently hires the real Santa Claus to be the store Santa, with life-changing results.
White Christmas - Two army buddies, who have become a successful performing team, work together to create a fantastical Christmas surprise for their former general.
A Christmas Carol (1984) - The classic story of Scrooge, an old, miserly man who wants nothing to do with Christmas or good will. After being visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, he changes his ways and dedicates the remainder of his days to helping those around him. You can watch the 2009 version of this classic Christmas movie here.
The Nativity Story (2006) - Mary is a simple teenage girl whose life is changed forever when the angel Gabriel comes to her and tells her that she is chosen to be the mother of God's son. She subsequently heads to Bethlehem with her husband Joseph, finds nowhere to stay in the city and gives birth to Jesus in a stable.
The Fourth Wise Man - Artaban is a wise man who intends to set off with the three Magi to find the Christ child. However, he stops en route to help a sick man on the way and misses his chance of finding baby Jesus. He then dedicates his life to doing good and helping those in need, never dreaming of the dramatic meeting that he will one day have with the Savior.
Cartoons and Music Videos:
NEW! The Crippled Lamb - Joshua was a lamb with a crippled leg who felt left out because he couldn’t run and play like the other lambs. But God had a very special plan for Joshua’s life.
NEW! Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa - The story of the boy whose charity and care for people helped him become Saint Nicholas, a great bishop whose spirit lives on as Santa Claus. Based on historical facts.
NEW! The Christmas Chest - Once a year, the family Christmas chest comes out! The Dino friends learn to give and take and have a great time getting ready for Christmas!
Treasure Attic: Christmas Friends - This fun, festive Christmas edition of Treasure Attic is full of excitement, songs and surprises to thrill young hearts as they discover the miracle and meaning of Christmas.
Animated Stories from the New Testament: A King is Born - The story of the First Christmas, starting with the annunciation and ending with Joseph, Mary and Jesus' return to Nazareth from Egypt.
Bible for Beginners: The Nativity - The story of the First Christmas for preschoolers and younger children
Veggie Tales: The Toy that Saved Christmas - A small toy is bewildered by the commercial hype surrounding Christmas and sets out to find what Christmas is all about.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Classic 1966 cartoon) - The Grinch hates Christmas and sets out to steal all the decorations and presents from the townspeople. However, he finds in the end that the spirit of Christmas is not something that can be stolen.
A Charlie Brown Christmas - Based on the Peanuts cartoon strip. The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas.
Annabelle’s Wish - Annabelle is a calf whose greatest wish is to become one of Santa's reindeer. However, she makes a surprising decision that leads her to lose what she holds most dear in order to help a mute boy that she has befriended.
The Little Drummer Boy - An orphan drummer boy who hated humanity finds his life changed forever when he meets three wise men on route to Bethlehem.
Nester the Long-Eared Donkey - An outcast donkey in Roman era Judea with overlong ears finds his destiny on the way to Bethlehem.
Kiddie Viddie: Christmas Joy – Children’s music video featuring well known and original Christmas songs for children. Ideal for babies, preschoolers and kids up to four years in age. (This playlist also includes several songs and a story from the “Treasure Attic” children’s video, as well as a short Nativity drama of the First Christmas.)
Alabaster's Song - The touching story of a boy who befriends a Christmas Angel. From the well-known book "Alabaster's Song" by Max Lucado.
Timmy's Gift: A Precious Moment's Christmas Story - Little Timmy the Angel is given the greatest honor in all of Heaven: to deliver the jeweled crown to baby Jesus. But he's sure they've made a mistake. He's much too little for such a long journey. And who knows what frightful things lie ahead...
Click here for free children's Christmas stories.
Click here for children's coloring pages.
Some of the descriptions are courtesy of IMDB, Amazon and Wikipedia. Image courtesy of Sean Dreilinger via Flickr.com
Earth Day (April 22) is a great opportunity to teach children about appreciating the marvels of Creation and taking care of the beautiful Earth we have been given. Here are some free stories, presentations, videos, coloring pages and activity sheets that can be used at home, school or other group gatherings to help children better understand and appreciate the importance of caring for nature.
Presentations & Devotional Articles
Image courtesy of Susy Morris via Flickr.
If you are a teacher looking for ESL ideas for the Christmas season or a parent who wants to help a child improve his or her English while on vacation, then this post is for you. This list of free resources, and ideas can help you make any English class fun and educational without having to spend a lot of time creating your own flashcards, booklets and teaching materials.
Common Christmas Flashcards - Can be printed with only the pictures or with pictures and words.
Flashcards of the Story of the First Christmas - Various bilingual versions are available for free download:
Stories & Comics
The Story of the First Christmas - This story accompanies the flashcards listed above. You can also watch the video in English for further review. Click on one of the following links to download the book that is best for your class:
The Home of Your Heart – A simple children’s comic explaining the true meaning of Christmas.
Songs are catchy, making it easy for kids to remember English words. Here are some good ones for little kids or new learners:
Jingle Bells – This classic song is so well known that kids are almost expected to learn it
I’d like to be a Christmas Tree – Another simple yet classic song. It’s short and repetitive so young learners will grasp it easily. Click here for the lyrics.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas – This version is pretty simple for children to learn. Click here for the lyrics.
My Christmas Events (color or black and white): Christmas is a special time of year with plenty to look forward to! Print out this poster and write down some of the events you can enjoy this Christmas season. Are there Christmas outings or events you are planning? Write those down. Or maybe there will be baking projects, gift-wrapping for friends, or carol singing? Add those to the list, and see how your Christmas season fills up with fun-filled events that you can share with family and friends. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
Christmas Card Frames – Printable Christmas cards for little children. The cards have borders but leave plenty of room for children to draw a picture on the outside and then write a short message on the inside. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
Christmas Bingo – Can be printed in color or black and white. A great game for helping children remember the words learned from their Christmas flashcards.
Christmas stories and plays
The Story of the First Christmas - Available in various bilingual formats. Click on the download choice that is best for your classroom:
The Story of Santa Claus – The story of the first Santa Claus, available in various bilingual formats:
As Little Ones – A cute story for children. It can be downloaded as a coloring book to help kids learn the words and can also be adapted into a Christmas play for a small class.
Santa Claus’ Secret: A short play adapted from the book listed above. Text is in English and Traditional Chinese.
The Story of the First Christmas: A short play of the story of the First Christmas, adapted from the play in Treasure Attic: Christmas Friends (see link for video below)
Treasure Attic: Christmas Friends – A half-hour Christmas show that includes songs, stories and fun dialog that most children will understand fairly easily. Click here to watch it on Tudou.
The Story of the First Christmas – English with Simplified Chinese subtitles. It’s on Tudou, China’s video-sharing website, making it a good choice for ESL teachers in China.
Charlie Brown Christmas – A cute cartoon from the famous “Peanuts” comics about Christmas. Alternatively, this video shows the same story but is read slowly by a native English speaker. It’s on Tudou, China’s video-sharing website, making it a good choice for ESL teachers in China.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – A classic cartoon about how the Grinch tried to steal Christmas from Whoville.
Jesus our Savior – This one is great to sing on stage as each child can have a part to sing. Click here to download the words.
Silent Night – Download the free bilingual coloring book so kids can learn the words easily:
Christmas Cards: Nothing shows love at Christmas like a basket full of Christmas cards. The holidays are often the one time of year we hear from long ago friends and distant family. For intermediate students, point out that many card senders often add a personal greeting before signing their name. Have these students design their own card and then personalize at least two with a little note at the bottom for different friends and family members. (Adapted from FluentU’s English Educator Blog)
Christmas Paper Stocking – Children learn how to make stockings for people in their family and then add papers listing kind deeds they want to do for people in their family. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
Stories & Plays
Christmas Around the World: Learn about Christmas traditions in countries around the world as well as common traditions and decorations used worldwide. Available in the following bilingual formats:
A King is Born – The story of the first Christmas for older children.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The classic story by Dr. Seuss about a creature who learns to appreciate Christmas.
A Christmas Carol – There are many adaptations of this story but this one is likely to be the most interesting for older children. It is written as a comic book and the main characters are listed before the story begins, making it fairly easy to adapt into a Christmas play.
A Christmas Carol (reader) – If you want your class to practice reading the book instead of just listening to it, then this book will be perfect. It is a fairly advanced reader but not too hard for children who still need English reading practice.
The Christmas Star – An adaptation of a Mexican Christmas Legend. Can be downloaded in various bilingual formats:
A Christmas Guest – Adapted from a well-known Christmas legend. Can be downloaded in various bilingual formats:
Wise Men from the East – Epiphany (also known as Kings Day or Three Kings Day) is celebrated in countries in South America and Europe. If you want to teach your class about the history of the holiday then this presentation is ideal. It can be downloaded in various bilingual formats:
The Grinch who Stole Christmas: This play is an adaptation of the story of the Grinch done by a Christian school. The cast includes about 20 characters, making it ideal for large groups to perform; however, it can be adapted fairly easily for smaller groups.
A Christmas Carol (cartoon) – Cartoons aren’t just for little kids. This one uses old English words that you will need to explain to your students throughout the video. You will probably want to read one of the Christmas Carol books listed above before watching this half-hour cartoon.
Christmas Letters – Show your advanced students some examples of a Christmas letter, which some families write to catch up friends and family on the happenings of their spouse and children. Encourage your students to think about the past year, to identify important events and milestones, and then have them write a Christmas letter to include in their cards. (Adapted from FluentU’s English Educator Blog)
Christmas Word Puzzle - In this enjoyable puzzle worksheet, students race to write down 20 Christmas words by matching numbers to letters. Each student is given a copy of the worksheet. Working alone, the students look at the numbers for each word and find the corresponding letters in the chart on the worksheet. The students then write the Christmas word in the space provided. When a student thinks they have finished, their answers and spelling are checked. The first student to complete the worksheet correctly wins. When everyone has finished, the correct answers and meaning of each word are reviewed as a class. (Courtesy of TeachThis.com)
Christmas Word Search - In this entertaining worksheet, students have to find words relating to Christmas in a word search. This word search can be used to review spelling and Christmas vocabulary. An answer key is provided. (Courtesy of TeachThis.com)
Mammoth Christmas Crossword – This one is pretty challenging but can be great for advanced students. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
12 Days of Christmas – A fun traditional Christmas carol. It’s a bit long but not too hard for advanced students. Click here for the words.
Joy to the World – A traditional Christmas carol.
O Holy Night – A traditional Christmas carol. Click here for the words.
On the way home after an evening outing with some friends, I asked my youngest if he had a good time.
“Sort of,” he answered. “But the kids on the playground were teasing me.”
“About what?” I asked. He sometimes reacts strongly to comments, so I assumed it wasn’t a big deal.
“Eric said he saw a picture of me sleeping while doing homework, and then Leslie said she saw it too, and all the kids started laughing.”
I didn’t know how to respond. I had posted a photo on Facebook of my son sleeping at his desk, his homework beside him. I had thought it was cute. My son puts his all into his activities, but when he’s tired, he’s tired. And he sleeps.
It runs in my family. My siblings and I know that once we reach a certain point of fatigue, we can’t push past it. Sleep is the only solution. My son has somehow learned that early. When he’s tired, even if it’s when we’re about to sing happy birthday at a party or when he’s supposed to be finishing up his homework, he will sleep.
My husband and I understand that and work around it. Our son’s teachers, for the most part, have also been understanding that at times he might fall asleep at his desk. I try to get him to bed on time when he’ll have an early morning or a long day.
Parents and teachers generally understand these things. Other kids often don’t.
When I posted the photo, I didn’t think about the possibility of parents showing their kids the “cute” post, which in the mind of a child might not be “cute” but “silly” or “funny” or “embarrassing.” Material to tease with.
Something I had done unthinkingly caused my son hurt. It cast him in a negative light in the minds of his friends. They probably forgot about it a minute later, and they were all playing again. But that moment, I had to admit to my boy that it wasn’t their fault; it was mine.
I pulled up the Facebook photo and showed it to my son, saying, “I posted this photo of you the other day. I didn’t think anyone would tease you about it.” Then I promised, “I won’t post anything of you unless I ask you first.” I already have that agreement with other members of my immediate family, but I didn’t think it would matter to my youngest. I was wrong.
It’s strange I would make a mistake like that. Thinking back to my own childhood, my strongest emotions resulted from teasing. I can remember half a dozen separate occasions, before the age of five, where I was brought to tears by teasing. Painful moments tend to remain in the mind and the heart long after the echo of the actual words fade.
How often do my own words or side comments have the same effect as those children on the playground? When I’m trying to focus on work, and after one too many interruptions, snap at the kids, telling them to leave me alone so I can get something done. Or when they’re arguing and I can’t stand the contention, so I tell them I don’t care who said what and whose fault it is—I just want peace.
After careful reflection, I vowed to see every moment of life through the eyes of my child.That’s not a promise I can make, nor one I can keep, but it is something I can try. Not a once-and-for-all decision, but a moment-by-moment choice. To slow down. To think. To pray. To love.
Photo and article courtesy of Activated magazine. Used by permission.
By Joyce Suttin
Bo was our golden lab who loved to swim in our pool. He lived for his exercise, and the pool was his domain. One day, my son was learning new strokes and tried the dead man’s float. Bo decided his boy was in imminent danger and jumped into the pool to rescue him. Instinctively, he pushed my son’s head up and held onto him with his paws in an effort to save his life. My poor son choked and sputtered as he tried to keep Bo away and ended up with water in his lungs and a chest full of scratches.
I praised Bo as he shook water all over me in his zealousness to get my opinion of the event. I knew that he’d accomplished more harm than good, but I could relate, because I know I’ve often done the same thing in my interactions with others.
I was talking with someone the other day about their relationship with their teenager and offered my advice. After forty-some years of parenting, grand-parenting, and teaching teenagers, my wisdom was really quite simple: “Don’t take things personally.”
It’s hard not to react with annoyance, anger, or sensitivity when you feel like you are being rebuffed. It’s hard not to take unkind words or actions personally, not to think of all the times when there were other things you wanted to do, but you stopped and listened and attended to your kids’ needs.
It’s hard to stand on the edge of the proverbial pool and watch and pray, knowing you have said all that needs to be said and done what you could. Now is the time to just step back a bit and let them try. Let them make the clumsy dive. Let them try the new strokes. Let them imitate their friends. But don’t jump into the pool like Bo and try to rescue them prematurely. Just watch and wait in case they call for help. And pray. Because in the end, prayer and unconditional love are really what will make a difference.
If they eventually call out to you, don’t berate them for all the times they didn’t. If they knock on your door, don’t tell them you’re too busy. Be the anchor. Be the rock. Be the stable place in the unstable world and let them know that things will be all right. Then treasure that moment with your arms around them again, and give them faith to jump back in the pool.
Joyce Suttin is a retired teacher and writer and lives in San Antonio, USA.
Text and image courtesy of Activated magazine.
Teenagers and young adults are especially vulnerable to substance abuse and getting addicted. Early intervention by parents, family, and educators can go a long way. However, many parents get confused when they learn their kids are using drugs and have no clue how to proceed. If you or anyone close to you is having trouble with a struggling teen, this guide has everything you need to know.
By Anna Perlini
My son Jonathan was born in a small Indian village, during the time my husband and I were serving there as volunteers. Like many Indian kids, he grew up eating rice, dahl, chapatis, and the incredible, colorful variety of tropical fruit available at every street corner.
Although he wasn’t yet five when we moved back to Europe, it took him a while to get adjusted to the new environment and particularly the new foods. At first, he looked very suspiciously at and dissected every bit of pasta on his plate. He had always been a slow eater, but he surely took his time to embrace Italian cuisine! Eventually, his memories of India and Indian food did fade. In those days, globalization hadn’t quite kicked in yet, and the only produce available in Italian supermarkets was seasonal Italian produce.
However, passing by a newly opened delicacies store one day, I spotted a mango! It was quite expensive, but Jonathan’s 11th birthday was just around the corner, and I thought it would be such a great treat for him to get to savor one of his favorite early childhood fruits.
I bought and packaged the mango, and invited my preteen son for a walk. Then we stopped on a bench and I solemnly presented my gift, telling him it would bring back memories from the past. Jonathan slowly opened the package and held the colorful mango in his hands for what seemed like a long time. No reaction.
“Mom, I really can’t remember. Sorry.”
I felt a bit disappointed. “Well, you should still try it. I promise you, you loved them when you were small.” With the same suspicious look he’d given his first Italian dishes years before, Jonathan took a small bite. Then another one, then more. Still, no reaction. Then … the seed appeared, and Jonathan’s eyes lit up.
“Mom, now I remember! I do! I remember how fun it was sucking on the seed!” And along with that memory, many more started rushing through this thinker of a boy. We talked and talked, reminiscing on other events and memories from the past.
From this episode with my son, I remember thinking how important it is to hold on just a bit longer when things don’t seem to click or make sense. As a mother, it was another confirmation that whatever we sow in our children’s youngest years will never be forgotten. It might seem like it is at times … but wait till they get to the seed!
Courtesy of Activated magazine; used by permission. Photo by Free Images via Freepik.com