Today marks the second day of advent, which is the four week countdown before Christmas. While lighting a wreath full of candles may not seem like the ideal tradition with preschoolers, we can definitely incorporate parts of this tradition even when our children are small. To observe one of the days of Advent, usually you do light a specific candle, then read a specific passage of Scripture. The key element is the Bible reading, although the candle lighting is a nice touch.
This blog is going to feature 2 different ways to being the advent countdown with preschoolers.
Idea # 1 On Focus on the Family’s website, they have a collection of Advent readings, as well other ideas on how to observe this advent tradition.
One of our MOPs moms, Melissa P., is using the calendar as a springboard to create her own family advent celebration. Here are her thoughts as she is beginning this tradition this year.
This will be the first time in 29 years that we will not be going home to California for Christmas. While I have a peace about it, I know as Christmas approaches, this will be very hard, but the Lord, however, has different plans for our family this Christmas season. This change of Christmas plans has led to an impression on my heart from Him that we need to celebrate advent as a family. Last night was our first night of “Celebrating Jesus.”
We will soon have three children under the age of three – very impressionable ages. I have been struggling with what I want my children to learn about Christmas. Will I allow society to dictate how our Christmas should be celebrated, with the fancy toys they show on commercials, the flyers they send in the mail, or the glimmer of the toy aisles in the store? In my quiet times with the Lord, it has become very evident to me that I want my children to have a passion for Jesus, which is why I decided to create my own advent celebration. After researching different things and not wanting to buy anything pre-made, I decided to formulate some of the best ideas to fit my family. This devotional time will only take about 5-10 minutes after dinner every night until Christmas, but I am praying that our children will see Jesus this season, and that it will develop a passion in their little hearts to want to see Jesus every day.
I was able to use the advent verses that Focus on the Family offers on their website, yet I cut and condensed some for my little ones. Every night we will learn about who Jesus is, after reading a passage in the Bible. We light a candle, turn all the lights off, sing some Christmas songs, and our son opens a box that has an item inside that represents what we learn that night. Then we pray, thanking Jesus for who He is.
Here is an example of what we did last night, and what we will do tonight.
Passage: Isaiah 40:1-5. Jesus is OUR COMFORT. Item to open: my son’s comfort blanket. Key Verse: Isaiah 40:1
Passage: Isaiah 11;1-5 Jesus is THE BRANCH. Item to open: palm tree (from nativity set) Key Verse: Isaiah 11:1
I also made circle tags, where one side tells what Jesus is for that day and the other has the key verse on it. We will try to review these each day as well.
On the last day of advent, Christmas day, we will be celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Since my son’s birthday is next month, my almost 3 year old thinks we are celebrating his birthday because we light a candle every night. So, we try to keep emphasizing Jesus, so that he understands that Jesus is what Christmas is all about.
If this sounds like something that you would be interested in doing with your family and you need more direction, please contact Melissa either at email@example.com or by using her information in our MOPs directory. She would be glad to tell you more of her list of objects that she is going to use or to help you to make her ideas work for your family. She is wanting to share how to celebrate Christ in Christmas with you! I think her idea of using objects to help visualize different aspects of Christ is fabulous!
Idea # 2 is the one that was passed on to me from my friend, Liz, from my homeschool group. Many of us already have The Jesus Storybook Bible. Evidently there are just enough stories to read one per day and finish at Christmas. This is what our family is has decided to do this Christmas season. If I had littler kids, managing to make it through each section of the Bible would be more than enough. But since my kids are getting older, I think we are going to do some sort of application to illustrate the stories in a visual manner. Thankfully there are many creative moms who have done this online already – I will simply choose what will work the best for our family and print it out.
Here are the links to some of the ideas to use The Jesus Storybook Bible this Advent season.
(Includes the link of a printable list of what stories should be read with each day )
(Includes mini circle ornaments you can put on a tree)
(Includes a circular picture of each story that will fit in a mini-muffin tin – if you place a magnet on the back of each picture, you can then draw a tree on a cookie sheet and attach the ornaments daily)
This mom has the printables to go with making a Jesse Tree – many of the printables correlate with The Jesus Storybook Bible.
She also created add-ons to finish up the set if you want to visualize just The Jesus Storybook Bible.
(While you have to pay for some of the items on this site, this particular item is free – you just have to set up an account to be able to print out the ornaments)
This mom also has the reading list, but she also compiled many additional ways to celebrate the advent. I did not check out her list because at the moment 150 ideas sounds a bit overwhelming to me. I will probably look eventually! 🙂
My goal with posting these lists is to be a resource for you. I am not in any way endorsing any of these blogs – I only looked at The Jesus Storybook Bible pages – I did not look at other posts on these sites. The key element is the reading of the Bible. If you want to print out any of the extra resources, that is a bonus. The goal is just reading the Bible with your kids daily. And if you miss a day, then catch up the next. I am sure that we will have to do that at least once! Advent is a wonderful way to focus on Christ during the Christmas season.