Celebrating Pentecost ~ Activities for Your Children


Celebrating Pentecost ~ Mary Reed Newland, The Year and Our Children

Now to prepare a gift for each member of the family that will remind us all year to use the gifts so that we may bear the fruits.

We first heard of this idea through a friend of a friend of a group of Sisters. As Pentecost favors, they make bookmarks in the form of white doves cut from parchment and threaded with red satin ribbons for markers.

On one wing, or on one page of a tiny folder held in the dove’s beak, is lettered a gift of the Holy Spirit; on the other, a fruit. They are placed all together in a basket, and each Sister chooses one.

The gift written on her dove is the gift the Holy Spirit wishes her to work on for the year. Sometimes it is the same gift year after year. In such a case, one can hardly fail to get the point!

We varied this custom by cutting two-piece doves and stapling the wings on so that they are three-dimensional, then hanging them in a flock by red ribbons of varying length. Pentecost morning we each chose a dove, blindfolded. A gift and a fruit were lettered on the wings of each.

They were a brilliant display of “Holy Spirits,” and we let them hang there through the Octave. Lots of people who came into the house asked questions.

Red, or an orange-flame, is the color for table decorations on Pentecost, the color of divine love. Red cut-outs of candles, or red paper cut-outs of doves for place cards or Grace-before-Meals cards, are easy to make with construction paper.

Doves pasted to tongue depressors or lollipop sticks, or mounted on wire or drinking straws, can be anchored in individual clay bases or all together in a larger one to make a fine Pentecost centerpiece.

Little children can make place favors with red Lifesavers stuck with frosting on cookies and a tiny red birthday-cake candle. Lighted when Grace is said, they burn for a few minutes to remind us of the “tongues of fire.”

During the preparation for the feast, children can learn the gifts and fruits by making their own mobiles with wire clothes hangers. Tie a wire clothes hanger to a string, use it as is or bend it into an interesting shape, or suspend additional hangers from it.

Let the children cut doves, candles, flames, circles, or other shapes from heavy paper and letter on them the gifts and the fruits. Suspend them at varying heights with black threads, sometimes with small objects to weight them so they will swing slowly in space.

Jamie made a beautiful mobile of the Holy Spirit and His work in us. An odd piece of wire bent to an interesting shape had suspended from it an orange cut-out of a dove; the sheet of orange paper from which the dove was cut (thus giving also a space dove surrounded by paper); a piece of transparent plastic that changed the color of the dove when it swung in front of them; a shell – because He comes to us first in Baptism; a small candle to symbolize the light He brings us as well as the tongues of fire on the first Pentecost; and a silver button that the children thought looked like a strawberry recalled to them the fruit of the Holy Spirit effected in us if we bid Him welcome and use His light.

This took him only about an hour to dream up and assemble, and it is an eloquent meditation as well as a work of art.

We have also a mixture called, quite inelegantly, Gook. It is sometimes called Muck. This is not much of an improvement over Gook. If this is to be used in preparation for the feast, plan the work session with it a week ahead of time in order that the objects you make will have time to be thoroughly dry.

Most mothers will recall using it at one time or another in their childhood, at arts or crafts class, in the Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls.

It is a mixture of salt, cornstarch, and water cooked, which dries as hard as a rock – most of the time. We have concluded that the few times it didn’t were due to insufficient cooking.

If you are an adventurous family and like inexpensive media for creating, do try it. Work with it in a place where the mess can be easily cleaned up afterward.


1 cup table salt

½ cup cornstarch

½ cup boiling water

Mix salt and cornstarch in saucepan. Add boiling water, and stir until well mixed. Hold over burner, and stir rapidly until mixture is thick and of a consistency for modeling. Let cool a few minutes after removing from pan.

Avoid modeling anything too delicate, or rolling too thin for the cookie-cutting. Individual batches of it may be colored with vegetable coloring.

This mixture takes about five minutes to prepare. We have modeled doves, inserting a candle in each dove for the “tongue of fire.” We have cut doves out of it with a cookie cutter, affixing a candle.

We have used it as well to cut Christmas-tree ornaments with cookie cutters, for making beads, Indian “wampum,” for modeling simple little figures, for homemade beads for rosaries on which little children may “learn” by counting out the beads and stringing them properly in decades.

Round balls stuck full of toothpicks are porcupines. Round balls stuck half-full of toothpicks are turkeys.

We have used it for homemade jewelry, for little fruits to go in boutonnieres, and on rainy days for just plain old something-to-do. It takes poster paints admirably and, if necessary, shellac.

Pieces that are to become beads or ornaments must have the appropriate holders, holes, threads, or wires, punched in or affixed before they are dry. These may be decorated with glitter or gilt paint.

It will take more than one Pentecost celebration, even when we are well prepared, for us to learn what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

But even one observance will teach us what our Lord meant when He told His Apostles of the mission of the Holy Spirit: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name. He will teach you all things and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you.”

This Holy Spirit is His love. His love for His Father, returned to Him by His Father. It is their gaze of love, their delight in each other, out of which came their desire for us. Let us say together, often:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful;

And kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created,

And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

“Don’t allow sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from acting freely. If we insist on being sad, then let it be a holy sadness at the sight of the evil that is spreading more and more in society nowadays.” – Padre Pio

Running a house, while schooling, making meals, etc. is no little task. So…we roll up our sleeves and dig in each day. THIS is what we are called to. Let us not get distracted thinking we should be doing great things, learning about great matters of the world. NO. St. Therese calls us the do the “little things” each day. And really, it is a great thing to accomplish all the “so-called” little tasks….

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