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A hands-on way to teach children about Lent

Jésus portant sa croix - Anne de Neuville Créations

Mathilde De Robien - published on 03/05/21

A Gospel diorama is like a Nativity scene for this liturgical season, helping the whole family learn the Easter story.

Do you regret having to put away your Nativity scene, and all the special atmosphere that the Christmas spirit brought into your home? An artist has found an ingenious way to follow the example of Advent and immerse ourselves in the Lent and Easter story, through Gospel dioramas.

The idea is to depict the Gospel readings of the Sundays of Lent and the days of the Easter Triduum with the help of mini figurines or action figures. These scenes help us walk towards Easter with a deeper understanding of the Word of God during Lent. They are especially useful for teaching children.

“These scenes make the Word of God more concrete and accessible to young children,” explains Anne de Neuville, a French artist who, at the request of another creator, Stéphanie Cécillon, began creating Lenten figurines with Air Dry Clay.

Anyone can recreate these dioramas using clay, peg dolls, or Playmobil, LEGO, or other commercially available toys. Creating figures from Air Dry Clay could be a fun Lenten project for crafty families.

Palm Sunday - Anne de Neuville Créations

Setting up Lenten and Easter dioramas requires a little imagination and skill. They don’t come ready to set up like a Nativity scene, but they’re just as meaningful and educational.

First, choose the right place in the house where children and parents can come together for times of prayer. Some families add living plants and other natural elements: moss, sand or pebbles, wooden crosses for Calvary, and more.

One tradition is to plant grass, reflecting a beautiful symbolism. The idea is to seed it at the beginning of Lent, so that it will be tall and thick on Easter Day, symbolizing the life and victory of Christ over darkness.

Familiarizing children with the Word of God

The Last Supper - Anne de Neuville Créations

Some scenes may have to be reinvented each year, because the Sunday Gospels differ according to the liturgical year. On the other hand, certain texts come back every year: the temptations of Jesus in the desert, the Transfiguration, the entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, and the account of the Resurrection. These are all texts that can be beautifully staged.

Children can arrange the figures before Mass—a way of preparing them to hear the Gospel—or afterwards to reflect on what they heard. In this way, they can be encouraged to listen carefully to the Gospel of the day in order to reproduce it when they return home.

The Crucifixion - Anne de Neuville Créations

This Lent might be ideal for putting together a Gospel diorama. The project is an enriching way to spend time at home, and helps the whole family learn about Scripture. Each year, it can be used again, becoming a beloved Lenten tradition.


Read more:
10 Picture books about Lent to share with children


Read more:
The best thing my family did last Lent

ChildrenEducationLiturgical Year

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