Here are some great ideas for family / youth group fun for Pancake Day (Feb 16th in 2021), adapted for Zoom meetings. Also, Ash Wednesday at home – how do do your own ashing, with lots of links and resources.
There’s still time to get your copy of The Big Story, Lent devotions that take you through the Bible from before the beginning of everything to the glory of Easter Day. Check out the links on the right.
And for inter-gen resources on nine of the Bible’s biggest failures, you can get Broken Bits & Weirdness, which shot to Amazon’s #1 slot in Bible Meditations when launched a few weeks ago! Links on the right.
If you have a lot of folks (or just want to make sure there’s no cheating!) you can hold most of these as knockout events. Choose two or three people to compete while all the rest watch and adjudicate, then some people more until everyone has competed. Then the winners of the first round can compete again, and so on until you have a winner. That way everyone can watch the fun, and it’s not just down to one leader to pick the winners.
To start with, everyone will need to make a pancake. Use a cereal or pizza box (you might want to glue two layers together), or a cardboard box (corrugated card). Paper plates are a bit too small and light, and they don’t bowl very well.
Cut a circle about 30cm across and decorate it as much as you like. (There are awards for art as well as sport!)
Now it’s time for the games! For events that need a range (like target shooting or sprint) you can use each person’s height, so that younger people can stand closer or have a shorter race.
Best to do this first before the pancakes get damaged! Vote for the best-looking pancake. Or perhaps the most quirky. What about a category for pancake with the most things stuck to it? Most eco? Most emo? Most emu? (Not sure what that would be.) You can make up your own categories for prizes.
The length of this race is the same as your height. So lie on the floor and use sticky tape to mark the start and finish of your race. Get a large book, magazine or small tray for your flapper and put your pancake behind the start line. On the word GO! start flapping your pancake towards the finish line. First person to get their pancake entirely over the line is the winner.
Mark a straight line on the floor with sticky tape and see if you can bowl your pancake along it. You get marks for staying close to the line and for the distance bowled before your pancake topples over.
Make any sort of parachute for your pancake from things around the house. You could use bin-bag plastic, string, kitchen towel, pipe cleaners, newspaper or whatever.
Everyone should stand on a chair and release their pancakes at the same time. The last pancake to hit the ground is the winner. You can have live-action replays if several are close.
It’s pancake frisbee time! You probably won’t have room to do a distance competition, so choose a safe target (and make sure there’s nothing breakable nearby) then fling your pancake like a discus to hit your target. Suggestion: stack two cans on top of one another on a sofa or bed and try to knock off the top one. You can set the range at 2 x your height, perhaps. If that’s too easy (or you need a closer range ‘cos of small rooms) throwers can use their less-dominant hand.
Balance your pancake on your head and try to stand up, sit down and move around. When your pancake falls, you are out. Keep making the tasks harder until only one person is left.
Put a cushion on the floor and stand your height away from it. Now see if you can get your pancake to land on the cushion. Closest to the centre is the winner.
Put your pancake on the floor and pick it up without using your hands! Any other part of your body may be used, and the first person to get their pancake entirely off the floor is the winner.
Draw your face in the circle (the eyes should be level with the ears), and add some hair, leaving room for a cross on your forehead.
Now you will need some ashes. Traditionally, these are made from last years’ palm crosses, (or you can buy them online), but you can make your own provided you do it safely.
Make a palm cross if you do not have one. You can draw a cross or palm leaf on paper and cut it out, or you can fold a paper palm cross from a strip. Here is a handy video to show you how. You can miss out the writing part if you want.
Now you need to burn your palm leaves or crosses. Obviously, children will need supervising, and don’t do this in a room with a smoke detector! Use a baking tray or piece of foil to burn your paper or palm cross until it is all ash.
Sieve out any lumpy bits and use two nested teaspoons to grind the ash to a fine powder. There is more information in this post [click]. (This post includes instructions for putting ashes on your actual forehead. Please note that if you are going to put ashes on skin, make sure you mix them with oil, not water, as the mixture can be quite alkaline. Ashing a picture of yourself is safer if you have any concerns about sensitive skin.) You can find more information at ashestogo.org
Make a cross on the forehead of your picture using PVA glue or a glue stick (PVA works better), then sprinkle the forehead with ashes as you say “Remember that we are dust”. This is from Psalm 103, a traditional text for Ash Wednesday. (See below.)
Then shake off the excess ash and stick your picture up over a mirror so that it is your reflection, and remember that you are dust (but God still loves you.).
Psalm 103:14-17 New International Version
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.