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 2748 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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