Find out how to throw a Reformation Party, so your kids (and you!) can have fun learning about the Reformation!
Last year my sister and I decided to throw a Reformation Party. The kids had so much fun at the party, and both adults and kids learned so much! We are throwing one again this year, so I wanted to share with you how easy it can be to throw a Reformation Party, so you can throw one too!
For our party, we started out with a bit of a potluck. We had someone in charge of bringing bowls and utensils, someone brought salad, someone brought dessert, and the rest of us brought Crockpots of soup. This worked as a great dinner, and we had a chance to talk to each other and enjoy each other’s company before we started in on the actual Reformation Party.
Of course, we had kiddos that wanted to dress up, so we let them. This is my cute kiddos dressed up as a knight and princesses. In truth, the styles of Martin Luther’s time were pretty terrible. It was the time period of the huge Elizabethan collars, so we opted to not go too historical on the outfits! I sewed the dresses for the girls, and made Little Man’s outfit from fleece and cardboard. If you’re not into sewing, you can easily do a monk outfit with a brown robe.
We watched this fabulous movie about Martin Luther from Torchlighters. This is an affiliate link, so if you buy through this link, I’ll get a small commission for sharing it with you, but your price will remain the same as it would if you didn’t buy through the link. If you have Amazon Prime, you can stream the movie for free with your membership. If you don’t, you can start a free 30-day trial to watch it– just make sure you cancel before the trial is up, if you don’t want to pay for a membership. The movie is 34 minutes long, and gives a good overview of why Martin Luther wrote the 95 Theses.
After the movie, we had stations. Each family put together a station, and then the kids went around to each station in small groups. The stations we had were a printing press, fishing for solas, nailing the 95 Theses on a wooden door, writing with feathers, alms giving/ buying indulgences, and a cake walk.
Reformation Party Printing Press
The printing press was an important part of the spread of the Reformation. Prior to the printing press, most people didn’t have access to a Bible, due to the fact that the Bible was in Latin, and also the fact it took quite a bit of time for a person to copy an entire Bible by hand– making it a very expensive item to buy. One of Luther’s big projects was to translate the Bible from Latin into German, so that every day people would be able to read it for themselves.
The printing press also allowed for literature about differing views (such as the views of the reformers) to be circulated much more easily.
How to do a printing press station:
- Craft foam sheets
- A stylus, or dull pencil
- Foam paintbrushes
- Freezer paper or wax paper
- White paper
- Baby wipes (optional)
Pick an image you’d like to use. We used an image of the Luther Rose. You are welcome to use it, too. Just click on the picture below, and you can download the PDF (the PDF has no watermark). Or pick any other image you think would be great.
Tape the paper image to a foam craft sheet. Using stylus or dull pencil, outline the picture, making sure to push hard to make an indent into the foam. If your craft foam has a sticker backing (mine did), adhere it to a piece of cardboard that is about 4 inches longer than the foam on either end.
Cover the area with newspaper. Make a square on the wax paper or freezer paper that is a little bit bigger than the picture on the printing press. Let each child paint the square, or if they’re too small do the painting for them. Help the child push the printing press straight down onto the paint. Then lift it from the paint and set it straight down on the white paper, trying hard not to move it, so it doesn’t smear.
Let the child press down on the back of it all over. Carefully lift up the cardboard to reveal the “printed” image.
If you have extra time, you can talk about the importance of the printing press, about how blessed we are to have the Bible in our language and available for us to read at any time, or point out how the image is reversed, so the entire Bible would have had to be put together backwards in order to print forward.
Fishing for Solas
Martin Luther coined the 5 Solas. Sola is Latin for “alone.” At the time of Martin Luther, the Catholic Church had brought in many doctrines and traditions that had nothing to do with the Bible (sounds like many churches today, right?). Luther wanted the Church to return to the 5 Solas. He wanted church doctrine to be founded on sola scriptura (scripture alone), by sola fide (faith alone) in solus christus (Christ alone) obtaining salvation from sola gratia (grace alone), for soli deo gloria (glory to God alone).
For this activity, we did fishing for solas. You can find an object that might connect with each of the 5 solas. So maybe a candle or fish to represent sola fide, a Bible for sola scriptura, a cross or a sheep for solus christus, a dove for sola gratia, and fire to represent soli deo gloria (if you have any amazing ideas for symbols for these, let me know, because this part was pretty hard for me to come up with!).
Using a table, or a piece of wood, tape explanations of what each of the 5 solas mean. Then let kids “fish” over the board using a stick or ruler with string on it. An adult can be behind the board to “hook” on one of the symbols. When they get it, let the kids try to figure out which of the 5 solas is stands for. If they get it right, let them have a candy or other small prize.
Reformation Day is actually the remembrance of the day when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the door of the church (or possibly multiple churches) in Wittenberg. This is traditionally held to have happened on October 31, 1517. October 31st was, at the time, celebrated as All Saints Day.
The 95 Theses station can be done in several different ways. You can do pin the tail on the donkey style, giving the kids a cut-out of a hammer or a nail (with tape on the back of it), and then having them try to “pin” it on a copy of the 95 Theses while blindfolded.
Or you can do an actual piece of wood, and let the kids hammer a copy of the 95 Theses on the wood.
Alms Giving or Buying Indulgences
This activity can be done either of two ways, depending on what you feel your kids would benefit most from.
Alms Giving: It was common for people to give alms (or donations) to the poor. Set up cups in a box, and give kids coins to practice tossing into the cups, pretending that they are donating to the poor. Talk about the importance of our generosity and our being willing to share the things that God has entrusted us with with those less fortunate.
Buying Indulgences: One of the big things that Martin Luther was strongly against in the Catholic church was the practice of buying indulgences. The jingle “When the coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs” had been coined about the practice of buying indulges. Basically, the Pope of the time had declared that if you paid for indulgences you could shorten the time your loved ones would need to spend in purgatory. This was a ploy to make more money for the churches (and thus the Pope).
If you watch the Martin Luther movie I shared above, it references the buying of indulgences, so this can be a great way to reinforce that.
Writing with Feathers
Writing with feathers gives kids a chance to see how hard it would have been to write out an entire Bible by hand in Martin Luther’s time! If you’re doing stations in an order, it might be a good idea to put this station before the Printing Press, so that kids see why the printing press made Bible translation so much easier.
All you need for this activity is some feathers and either ink or black paint.
I don’t have any pictures from our cake walk. We simply taped numbered pieces of paper to the floor, and used the music for A Mighty Fortress, since Martin Luther wrote it. When the music stopped, we would spin a spinner from a board game, and the person standing on that number would get to pick their dessert off the table.
I hope you have a fabulous Reformation Party, and that your kids learn so much about how the church changed because of Martin Luther’s work. Not only that, but I hope that you’re able to stress to them that Martin Luther was passionate that people know that “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9