40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: A Sense of Direction


  • Ask all of your students to stand up and, on the count of three, to point north.
  • Inevitably, there is some confusion…not all have their bearings!
  • Explain that we can rely on a compass to help us get a sense of direction.
  • Make a simple home-made compass. You will need a magnet, a sewing needle, a shallow aluminum baking pan filled with water, and a small piece of Styrofoam (2 in. x 2 in.)
  • Hold the needle in one hand and, with the other hand, rub the magnet (moving in the same direction) on the tip of the needle about 50 times. This will magnetize the tip of the needle.
  • As you do so, ask the young people to explain how a compass works. (the earth has magnetic poles and when the needle becomes magnetized, it is drawn to the north pole)
  • Have the students gather around the tray filled with water.
  • Place the piece of Styrofoam in the water where it will float.
  • Gently place the needle on top of the Styrofoam and face the point of the needle south.
  • If done properly, the needle (and the Styrofoam) will slowly and gradually turn until the point of the needle is facing north.
  • You can do this several times for emphasis
  • Explain that, just as the magnetized needle is naturally drawn to face north, each of us is naturally drawn toward God.
  • Point out that in the Bible, the word “worship” literally means to “bow down” – a gesture that “points our entire being” toward someone or something.
  • Explain that we are naturally drawn to worship God but that, in the course of a year, our attention is drawn by other things.
  • Explain that Lent is a time for us to “turn around” and to once again “bow down” before God, giving God our worship (the attention of all of our being).
  • Point out that praying, fasting, and giving alms are all ways of helping us to “turn around” and to focus our attention on God, to whom we are naturally drawn.

40 Ideas for 40 Days
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40 Ideas for 40 Days
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About Joe Paprocki 2133 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. He has more than 30 years of experience in ministry and has taught at many different levels. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller The Catechist’s Toolbox and Under the Influence of Jesus.

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