For our introductory activity while the kids arrived, we had them color a simple Ash Wednesday drawing, like the one found on Coloring Pages 101 .
We then went outside and watched an Eagle Scout burn last year's palms to prepare the ashes for Ash Wednesday.
When we returned to our classroom, we had our circle time, working on the Prayer at the Stations of the Cross (1st Grade Prayer to memorize in Seattle Archdiocese) and discussed Ash Wednesday and Lent.
We discussed the process that caterpillars go through to become butterflies. We encouraged our students to think of ways they could prepare their hearts for Easter during Lent, such as giving up something, doing extra good deeds and adding prayer to their day to day routines.
For our craft project, we made caterpillars out of egg cartons. For each child, we ripped out a section of three egg cups from old egg cartons, and gave each student two small pieces of pipe cleaner. The students decorated the caterpillars with markers and inserted the pipe cleaners in the "head" by poking small holes with a pencil first, then inserting the pipe cleaners.
This ended up being a successful project--easy enough for our preschoolers to complete, but fun enough to keep our 1st graders entertained as well.