Next Sunday is the start of Advent (already!), the count-down to Christmas. I’m looking forward to doing some fun activities with Sunshine and Lily to celebrate the season (and so are they—in fact, they’re currently counting down to Advent!). Here are a few of the Advent resources for children I’ve found to help us make the most of the four weeks before Christmas.
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The Jesse Tree is a cool Advent resource for children that we stumbled across a few years ago. This year, I’m hoping we actually remember to do it every day! For each day of Advent, you read a short Bible passage and decorate your Christmas tree (or wall) with a special ornament that represents a portion of the salvation story.
You can print ornaments from various websites, make your own, or buy them at your local bookstore or online. The story each day can be as short or long as you want to make it—adapt it for whatever will suit your children. And find a time of day that works to do this together, perhaps right before or after supper or before bedtime.
One of my favourite Jesse tree resources is Ann Voskamp’s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. Each day, families can read the provided Scripture passage, engage with a specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme. This beautifully illustrated book can serve as a precious guide to help recapture the sacredness of the Advent season and to help the entire family understand and celebrate the epic pageantry of humankind from Adam to the Messiah.
Holy Heroes Advent Adventure
I’ve lost track of how many friends have emailed me an invite to the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure; apparently I’m not the only mom who thinks this is a great idea! Sign up at the Holy Heroes website to receive a FREE daily email (except Sundays) with videos, stories, prayers, coloring pages, activities, quizzes to test what you’ve learned, and more!
Advent Candles & Wreath
Candles are magical for young children, who love watching the flickering flames—and blowing them out. An Advent wreath with candles is a very concrete yet beautiful way to count down the days to Christmas with your family. It’s easy to start an Advent candle tradition with your kids. All you need is a wreath, candles, and the selected Advent readings. One year, we made our own wreath and used the readings supplied by our church to pray together every evening while lighting the candles.
We are huge fans of the Happy Saints eBooks and they have a special eBook for Christmas. It includes story posters, colouring pages, prayer cards, greeting cards, and badges or stickers of various scenes from the Nativity story.
The Christmas Story eBook is only US$9.90 and is available as a download from the website, so you can print as many colouring pages as your children want to colour—or a story poster for each of them.
Brother Francis TV
Brother Francis is a fun TV show for kids that explores various aspects of the faith. Through stories, music and Bible verses, Brother Francis helps kids understand and engage with the sacraments, Mass, and liturgical seasons. For Advent and Christmas, check out Jesus is Coming: the blessings of Advent and Christmas, The Days of Advent: celebrating the coming of the Lord, and O Holy Night: what Christmas is all about. My kids have all loved Brother Francis and even I’ve learned more about my faith through his teaching.
Of course, there’s always the traditional chocolate Advent calendar, with a little door to open each day and a sweet treat to eat as you count down towards Christmas. There are also tons of great ideas online for Advent calendars, such as this Upcycled Denim Pocket Calendar (if you like sewing) or this DIY Gift Tag Calendar (if you prefer scrapbooking-type crafts). Then you can fill the calendar with whatever you want, such as little Scripture verses or quotes from saints, healthy treats, small toys, and more!
More Advent Resources
For more Advent ideas, I like to pull out my favourite liturgical living books, Around the Year with the von Trapp Family by Maria von Trapp (of Sound of Music fame) and The Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney. Both of these ladies have large families and deep faith, and they share how they make this season special. I love both the wisdom they share and their ideas for encouraging the whole family, from the youngest kids to the most reluctant teen, to participate.
What are your favourite Advent resources for children? How do you celebrate this season?