Advent and Christmas
Here is the Advent and Christmas Activity Book we have put together for our kids, based around the Sunday readings each week for 2014. Take some time to read the Gospels with your kids during Advent so that they will recognise some of the themes throughout the mass. If the readings are difficult for small children to understand, pull out a small part that is relevant to them. The Advent Christmas booklet is designed with a range of ages in mind and some ideas for families along the way. We hope you enjoy!
~ Use an advent wreath on your kitchen table. Light the candles and say special prayers. You can even use LED candles if you are afraid of kids and flames. Here is one example of advent wreath prayers which also includes a prayer over your Christmas tree: Prayers For Advent
~ Make your own advent wreath for kids idea
Advent pass the parcel
~ Try this way of taking the advent journey - wrap a representation of the baby Jesus (it could be a small doll for your empty manger, a special ornament for the tree etc) in beautiful gift wrap. Then continue to wrap your present with one layer for each day of Advent. Throughout Advent unwrap one layer per day. If you wish each layer could contain a symbol or an ornament that reminds us of a particular part of the story; of those who also waited for Jesus to come and of his birth.
~ Add an empty manger to your prayer space during advent.
~ Perhaps each child may have his own individual manger, or there may be one manger for the whole family. The idea is that when acts of service, sacrifice, or kindness are done in honor of Baby Jesus as a birthday present, the child receives a piece of straw to put into the manger. Then, on Christmas morning, “Baby Jesus” is placed in the manger. Encourage your children to make Jesus’ bed as “comfortable” as possible through their good deeds. In the process, explain Christ’s incomparable self-gift at Christmas and Easter that enables us to be part of God’s family.
~ Make your own nativity set with toilet rolls and these free printables from Catholic Icing. Here's another gorgeous felt board nativity scene from ideas for kids.
~ Pray a blessing over your Nativity Scene as a family. You can find one here: Blessing of the nativity scene
A Jesse Tree is something that is made throughout Advent to remember God's action throughout Jesus' ancestry. Each person has a symbol (e.g. Noah - an ark) that is put on the tree. There are many versions of the Jesse Tree but here is one to try that's really well organised and involves making salt dough ornaments if your keen:
Jesse Tree with readings and salt dough ornaments.
Here's another collection of Jesse tree symbols and devotionals to go with each symbol.
Each family member secretly pulls another family member's name out of a hat. The Christkindl (the drawer of the name) now has to do as many little favours for the person whose name they drew out. One has to provide at least one surprise every single day — but without ever being found out. This creates a wonderful atmosphere of joyful suspense and kindness. Perhaps you will find that somebody has made your bed or has made you a card or has informed you, in a disguised handwriting that "a prayer has been said for you today".
Advent Lectio Divina for kids... following the star!
Here's a lovely idea from Christine... Each evening, print out the readings of the day for the following day - you could use excerpts from the readings or the Gospel Acclamation for little ones. Then roll them into scrolls and hide them around the house. When the kids wake in the morning they hunt for their scroll. When the readings are all found, read them together and then invite each child to write a word or phrase that touches their heart on a paper star. Each of the stars are then stuck on the wall to create a path that works its way towards your nativity.
12 days of Christmas Nativity
This idea has been passed on by Melissa... Prepare your nativity scene using 12 pieces and wrap each of them with gift wrap. For each of the 12 days of Christmas unwrap one piece per day, explain the role of each nativity character invite your children to share their thoughts and insights. The sugardoodle site has printables and a full explanation of this Christmas idea.
Letters to the Christ Child
Rather than writing letters to santa, children can write (or dictate for the little ones) a letter to Jesus, the Christ Child, in preparation for Jesus' birthday. It could include birthday wishes, intentions and/or thanksgiving notes.