Kelly Ramke Lardin is the author of the children's books Josiah and Julia Go to Church, and Let's Count From 1 to 20 (bilingual counting books in French and Spanish). She holds degrees in French from The University of the South and Tulane University and studied translation at SUNY-Binghamton. She has always enjoyed writing and loves studying languages. She converted to Orthodoxy shortly after marrying her husband, who is also a convert to Orthodoxy. Her journey to the faith was fraught with struggle, but she wouldn't trade it for anything. Together she and her husband are raising their two daughters in the Orthodox faith. This continuing journey still has its moments of struggle but is also a joy. Visit her at kellylardin.com for more information on her books and to read short stories and other writings. She also blogs about her faith, family, and life in Chicago at A Day's Journey. She is available for speaking engagements through the Orthodox Speakers Bureau.
The feast of the Annunciation is a glorious respite in the middle of Great Lent. For adults, there are numerous church services and fasting to prepare us for Pascha. Since children aren’t fasting and most are probably not paying attention completely when they are in church, it is important to provide them with lessons at home or in Sunday school that will help them gain an understanding of what this time is all about and hopefully bring them closer to God. We can use each of the feast days in Lent (even the minor ones) as fun teaching moments to show children that Great Lent is not something to be dreaded, but something that can help us grow as Christians and bring us closer to God.
Look at an icon of the Annunciation, and have your child color the icon from this online coloring book. While he is coloring, ask about what he sees in the picture. Ask what he thinks the word “annunciation” means. Older children may already have an idea and be able to explain it to you. If they can’t, explain to them that it’s just a fancy word that means announcement.
Next, read the Bible (Luke 1:26-38) or a children’s Bible story about the Annunciation. Below you will find discussion questions to ask when you’ve finished the reading:
1. Who made an announcement?
a. The angel Gabriel
2. To whom did he make it?
3. What was the announcement?
a. That she would have a baby and name Him Jesus
4. How did Mary respond?
a. A little confused about how, but wanting to do God’s will. “Let it be done to me according to your will.”
Craft Activity: Clothespin Angel and Virgin
These figures can stand in your icon corner for the feast, and later they can be added to your Christmas tree as a reminder of how we arrived at Christmas.
2 old fashioned clothespins (3 3/4 inches long)
Scissors or pinking shears
Blue fabric (liturgical color of the Theotokos)
White fabric (for the angel)
3 small rubber bands (loom bands work great)
Gold (or silver) pipe cleaner
Gold (or silver) paper
1. Cut out the pattern pieces. Pin skirt pattern to blue fabric and cut. Repeat with white fabric. Cut out a small square (roughly 3×3 inches) of blue fabric. If your child is very young or not good with scissors, prepare this part in advance.
2. Draw faces and hair on clothes pins.
3. Put fabric glue on one side edge of white fabric. Fold the other edge of fabric around to meet glue. Hold it 30 seconds or so to give the glue a chance to set a bit and ensure it holds. Repeat with blue fabric.
4. Slide the skirts over each figure, and fasten with one rubber band. If you don’t have small rubber bands, you can glue the skirt around the “neck” of the clothes pin.
5. Put the blue square of fabric over Mary’s head for a scarf, and fasten with the last rubber band. If you glue the scarf on Mary, be sure to glue the top, back, and sides so it doesn’t poof out too much.
6. Twist one end of the pipe cleaner into a small circle. Cut off the excess, leaving a half to one inch stem. Position the halo over the angel’s head and tuck the stem into the rubber band at the back of the angel.
7. Cut out wing pattern, and trace onto back side of gold paper. Cut out wings, and glue onto angel’s back with gold side facing forward.
Since this is an important feast day in the middle of Lent, be sure to enjoy it. Have some fish for dinner and finish off with a dessert in honor of the Theotokos. One of our favorites that is perfect for an oil & wine day is dump cake. Make it with blueberries for the Theotokos.
1 Box vegan yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines is vegan)
1 Can blueberry pie filling
Smart Balance margarine
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1. Pour pie filling into 13×9 pan. Rinse the can with a little water and pour over filling.
2. Add almond extract and stir around.
3. Pour cake mix evenly over pie filling (DO NOT STIR).
4. Melt about 4 ounces of margarine, and pour over cake mix. If there are large parts with no melted margarine, repeat this step until most of the mix is covered.
5. Sprinkle nuts on top, if desired.
6. Bake at 350F for about 35 minutes (or until cake mix is golden brown).
7. To serve, scoop out into bowls.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, celebrate the feast by attending liturgy!