the jelly bean prayer

As a parent, each year I try to figure out how I can make the Lent and Easter seasons meaningful for my kids.  Sure, dying and hunting for Easter eggs is fun, but there is a lot more to Easter than that.  Then, when I started teaching at a Catholic school and I was lacking in the Lent and Easter lesson plans category, I started doing some research.  I came across many versions of a fun activity called The Jelly Bean Prayer.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?  I found a version I liked best and thought would work well with my four and five-year-old students.  I added to it, created pieces to go along with it, and my version of this Lenten tradition was born.

In years past I have done the Jelly Bean Prayer in my classroom with my students and this year I am doing it at home with my own kids as well and they LOVE it.  Here is what I do…

I fill a mason jar with jelly beans and set an empty jar next to it.  The goal is to move all the jelly beans to the empty jar by doing kind and loving things.  The “prayer” states the color of the jelly bean and what a child should do in order to get to move that color jelly bean to the other jar {or, to make it easier, if a child does any part of the prayer, he or she can move any colored jelly bean to the next jar.  With little ones it can get too complicated to move a specific color jelly bean for a specific deed.  It’s up to you!}.  Here’s the prayer…

jelly bean prayer

Red is for the blood of Christ (a sacrifice).

Green is for the shade of the palm (doing a good deed).

Yellow is for God’s light (kindness to others).

Orange is for prayers at twilight (good behavior at bedtime prayers).

Purple is for days of sorrow (apologizing to someone).

Pink is for each new tomorrow (forgiving others).

In my classroom I read the above part of the prayer each morning during prayer time and then the students say a simpler version with me…

Dear God,

Please help me to make sacrifices,

to be kind,

to do good things,

to be on my best behavior,

to say I am sorry,

and to forgive others.


I also created an “at home” component to go along with the Jelly Bean Prayer.  Some years I send home a sheet of blank jelly beans.  Parents work with students to color in jelly beans the color of the good deed they did.  Parents or students write what they did on the jelly bean and bring it back to class.  I then share the jelly beans with the class and put them up on a giant “jar” on our bulletin board.  I did this last year and it was a HIT!  The kids were so proud to have their good deeds shared and it was fun to see our giant jar fill up.

I love to see my own children seeking to do good and kind things.  I have found the jelly bean jar to be a fun way to encourage this behavior and to start conversation about what this time of year is really about.

Have a blessed Good Friday,



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