Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent with Kids

Advent is here :) 

The season leading up to Christmas in the Church calendar is called Advent. This name has come to us through the Latin advenire meaning “coming” or “arrival,” referring to the coming or arrival of Jesus who is the“Christ” or promised Messiah. (For more about Advent, please click HERE to continue reading).

How do you celebrate the Advent Season with your young children?  A few years ago, I decided to make a conscious effort to turn my kids' attention from all the commercialism that has become associated with Christmas, and instead make sure that we are focusing DAILY on the story of Jesus' birth, as told in the Bible.  There are plenty of ways to count down the days until Christmas, from store-bought wall hangings to homemade crafts.  I thought I'd share a few of the things we've done.

My mom bought this Nativity Set for me many years ago (I think in 1996?) and it is my most cherished Christmas decor.  I found the manger to go with it when I was living in Germany.  We put up the tree and other decorations first, and save it for last.  It comes out on the first Sunday of Advent.  Bou also really looks forward to taking this out of the box, unwrapping each piece, and carefully placing it on the buffet.  

This is my fifth season of Advent projects with the kids.  Here's what we did the first year:

I don't remember where I got the idea (somewhere online, because I printed out their templates).  We cut out the 25 figures, colored them, and then I laminated them just so they would last and be able to be reused.  They've lasted through four Christmases and we will be using them again this year.  Beginning on the first day of Advent, we stick one figure on the window each day, and talk about a little part of the birth of Jesus.  By Christmas day we have a complete Nativity scene - Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, two angels, the manger, three wisemen, the shepherd, random shepherd girl and boy, three sheep, a donkey, a camel, two palm trees, five pieces of the stable, and the star.  The kids also get excited about this one, because they like to pick a piece to stick up each day.

If you wanted to get even more creative, you could cut the figures from felt and place them on a felt board.  OR, you could get a piece of posterboard and draw one part of the Nativity scene each day. There are lots of ways to do this one.

Something else we did last year - and will be doing again this year - is an Advent paper chain.  All you have to do is cut 22-28 strips of paper (depending on the length of the Advent season that particular year).

I use 12x2 sheets of scrapbook paper cut into one inch strips,

write a verse from the story of Jesus birth on each strip,

and then attach all of the strips together by taping the ends and making a chain.  

Beginning on the first day of Advent, cut off one piece of the chain and read the verse.  Cut off another piece each subsequent day, and add that verse to the story.  By Christmas day you will have the complete story of Jesus' birth.

For the verses we use Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2:1-20 (yes, that's actually 33 verses so I write two verses on one strip of paper for a few of the days).

Finally, here's another option that my friend Amy S. introduced me to:  Truth in Tinsel. 

Spend December impressing God’s Word on your kids’ heart! You’ll get 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points and extension activities. Plus fun printables and templates!

This is the perfect book for kids of any age–from preschool to elementary!

This is an ebook. You will get a link to download the printable PDF after payment is complete.
- See more at:
"Spend December impressing God's word on your kids' hearts!  You'll get 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points, and extension activities.  Plus fun printables and templates!  This is the perfect eBook for kids of any age - from preschool to elementary."

The eBook is a downloadable PDF and costs $7.99, but I think it's well worth the cost (it was $3.99 back when we bought it, but I'd pay for it again).  We haven't done this one for the last couple of years because honestly, the crafts are a little more time-consuming and I try to pick an activity that I feel we can successfully complete each year.  I will say though that my daughter had so much fun making the crafts that go with the Scripture readings!  We still have the PDF and I'm sure we will do it again one of these years.  Obviously, we don't do all of these every year - it's nice to have a little selection of activities and choose the one that seems like it will be the best fit for a particular season.

What do you like to do for Advent? 


  1. We've used The Advent Jesse Tree by Dean Meador Lambert for the past several years. We made or bought ornaments to go with each devotional and after we read that days devotional we then hang up the ornament that goes with it. The kids look forward to it each day. It starts with creation and finishes on Christmas day with a baby Jesus ornament. We have a separate little 2 foot tree that the kids get to keep in their room where are the ornaments go. Here's the link for the book.

  2. Thanks Erin! Another friend mentioned this one too, so I'm going to have to check it out :) I also like the idea of the kids having their own little tree for their ornaments.