According to John 19:2, prior to crucifixion, Jesus was adorned with a crown of thorns, a representation of the sin and suffering placed upon him. This torturous adornment had to have been woven very carefully, lest the soldiers themselves be wounded. Though the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a defining element of the Christian faith, it is a subject to be illustrated delicately to children.
Salt Dough Crowns
The salt dough crown of thorns, used to teach children the importance of personal sacrifice, is one that will last throughout the Lenten season. For each Lenten sacrifice made, a child removes one toothpick from the crown. This craft acts as a reminder that, though sin brings additional pain to Jesus, good works comfort him and show our love for him. The goal of the salt dough crown of thorns is to have all of the toothpick thorns removed by Easter Sunday. Once the crown no longer bears any thorns, children may paint and decorate it with colorful beads or flowers as a sign of the risen Jesus's triumph. To make the crown, mix 4 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt, adding enough warm water to make a stiff clay. Knead until smooth, removing any air bubbles. Separate the clay into three long ropes and braid them together loosely. Complete the braid by forming a circle and loosely stick toothpicks throughout. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until it is dry and light brown in color.
Children can experience wearing a crown of thorns by creating their very own. It is important to explain prior to fitting the crowns that the materials they will be using are not real thorns and will not harm them, but using their imagination will help them understand how much Jesus's crown hurt him. Have children link brown chenille stems together, overlapping a few inches on each end to form the thorns. Help them shape the stems into a circular frame until it appropriately fits the head.
Older children can take donning the crown of thorns one step further with a foam and toothpick crown. Small foam wreaths painted brown serve as the base of the crown. The children can glue toothpicks around the dried wreath until it is completely covered.
For younger children, ready-made paper crowns purchased from a craft store may be the safest. The kids can cut their own "thorns" from brown construction paper and glue them to their crowns. As they design their crowns, let them hear the story of Jesus's suffering and how it led to his glory. Allow children to add jewels, glitter, stickers and the like to their crowns in honor of Jesus, the King of Kings.
- King James Bible: John 19:2
- Catholics United For The Faith: Salt Dough Recipe
- "Holy Bells and Wonderful Smells: Year-Round Activities for Classrooms and Families"; Jeanne Hunt; 1995
- "Sojourn Kids"; Crown of Thorns; Jared Kennedy; 2011
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