Wednesday, December 3, 2014

ABCs of Advent

Several people have asked about the ABCs of Advent book I am making with Maleah. (I say "I" because we are primarily doing these activities when Blake is at work... though he helps too when he is home!) I used a couple of websites to gather ideas and then changed some of the words to be more meaningful to us. I also tried to make the activities something simple (lots of coloring sheets and construction paper!!!), doable (for a weeknight, even!), and memorable. 

Most of these don't have to take more than 10-15 minutes, but they do require a little bit of preparation - mostly for you to get the materials together. Ideally what I will try to do next year is get all the materials ready ahead of time and create a box that we can just keep at hand during the season. It would have all the printables, construction paper, crayons, glue, stickers, etc. that we would need for each day. 

I will be posting pictures of several of our activities on my Instagram if you want some ideas! And hopefully next year I can make a post of our entire book. The book is just construction paper - I plan on laminating what can be laminated and the rest, I'll just put in there! I will probably put it in a binder or paper folder, depending on how thick it is. Don't forget to use acid-free paper, stickers, and glue in order to preserve your memories! 

And, of course, you don't have to make an entire book! I think even doing just a few of these activities would be a great opportunity to share the meaning of Christmas with your child!

A: Angel
Color a picture of an angel. Read the story of Gabriel visiting Mary. This can tie in with the prophecy candle if you start this on the first day of Advent.

B: Baby Jesus
Create a picture of Baby Jesus in a manger using your child’s fingerprints and paint. Talk about how Jesus came to earth as a baby in very humble beginnings.

C: City of Bethlehem
Paste a map of Bethlehem in the book. Trace the route Joseph and Mary traveled. Discuss why they were traveling to Bethlehem.

D: Donkey
Color a picture of a donkey. You can glue black yarn or felt onto the donkey’s mane and tail. Read the story of Joseph and Mary traveling on a donkey. 

E: Evergreen Tree
Decorate a paper tree with ornament stickers. Talk about the significance of the evergreen (how the green color represents renewal or new life and freshness. Evergreens do not die – which reminds us of eternal life in Jesus.

F: Family
Write a list of all our family members and say a special prayer for them. Talk about Jesus’ family – Mary and Joseph – and how they were chosen by God to be Jesus’ parents. You could paste a photo of your family into the book.

G: Gift of Grace
Fill up the word “grace” with stickers of gift boxes! Talk about how Jesus was the ultimate gift of grace from God to us!

H: Holly
If possible, have a live or faux branch of holly for your child to examine. Let your child color or paint a picture of a holly branch. Discuss how holly is often used at Christmas because it reminds us of Jesus. The prickly thorns remind us of his crown and the bright red berries remind us of his blood. Jesus came to be a sacrifice for us and his birth is a reminder of how much we need him.

J: JOY (Jesus, Others, Yourself)
Teach your child the “JOY” song (to the tune of Jingle Bells). Color this JOY picture from Seeds of Faith (reproducible). Discuss how knowing God and believing in Jesus gives us the joy and strength we need to follow God's commands to love others.

K: King of Kings
Create a crown using yellow (or your child’s favorite color!) construction paper, glitter, and stickers. Let your child be the “king” and discuss how Jesus is King of Kings!

L: Lamb
Glue cotton balls or white pom poms onto a blank lamb. Talk to your child about how Jesus came as a little baby, like a little lamb.

M: Manger
Using popsicle sticks (or strips of construction paper), create a manger filled with “hay”. Tell your child how Jesus was born in a manger even though he was a king.

N: Name of Jesus
Jesus has many names – Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Rose of Sharon. Have several of these names typed up/written on colorful cut-up strips of paper. Allow your child to glue them onto Construction paper. Discuss how Jesus got his name.

O: “O Come All Ye Faithful”
Print out the sheet music for this hymn. Talk to your child about the words of the song, sing it with them, and paste the sheet music into your book. 

P: Poinsettia
Share the legend of the poinsettia with your child as she colors a picture of a large poinsettia, using the colors red and green. (You can find the original story from Mexico online.) If possible, buy a poinsettia early in the season. Use it as a teaching tool when you get to this letter. You can read Tommie dePaola's The Legend of the Poinsettia

Q: Quiet Time
Christmas is a time for us to reflect on all God has done for us. One of the ways we can use our quiet time is to pray and to listen to God. Do this with your child for a few moments - just listen. You can trace your child's hands, cut them out, and put them in a praying "position" to paste in your book. Or, find a picture of praying hands and let your child color them and cut them out.

R: Rod (Candy Cane)
This day can be as in depth as you want it to be! There are so many options. Our plan is to discuss the colors of the candy cane and how it looks like a shepherd's rod. Print a picture of a shepherd and tape the candy cane to his hand to be his rod.  

S: Star of Bethlehem
Cut out a yellow star and decorate it with yellow or gold glitter. Read the story from Matthew where the shepherds see the bright star. 

T: Tell it on the Mountain
Jesus is the Good News who brings us Great Joy! We want to share it with everyone! Create a "mountain" out of brown construction paper and glue a small picture (or drawing) of your child standing on the  mountain-top. You can even draw a little word bubble that says "I love Jesus!" or "Happy Birthday Jesus!" on it. Remind your child that sharing the Gospel with others is important and exciting!

U: “Unto Us a Child is Born”
Read Isaiah 9:6-7 with your child. Type up the verses and then cut them into phrases of 3-4 lines each. Paste them in order onto paper and put them in your book!

V & W: Visit from the Shepherds & Wise Men
V & W can be done on the same day or split into two days. Read how the story of the shepherds and wise men visiting Jesus. (Note the time difference on the visit from the wise men.) Talk about how far they traveled and why. Color a picture of shepherds and of the wise men to put in your book.

X: X is for Christ – Greek Symbol
Cut two long, thin rectangles out of construction paper. Help your child glue them in the shape of an "X". Discuss how "X" is the Greek symbol for Christ and how it is often used to shorten "Christmas". (While we don't advocate calling it X-mas, it shows our children that there is a reason people often refer to it as X-mas.)

Y: Yet to Come
Celebrating Advent at Christmas is not only a way for us to reflect on Jesus' birth, but also to look forward to Jesus' 2nd Coming. Read Hebrews 9:28 with your child. Let your child color a picture representing Jesus' second coming.

Z: Zzz... time to rest!                                                                                                                This should be done on Christmas Eve (if possible). Create a "bed" using sheets of construction paper. Make a "blanket" (you could weave construction paper if you're feeling extra energetic!) and "cover up" a picture of your child's face or drawing of themselves. Remind your child that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and that our celebrations include a lot of exciting activities and time with family! They will need their rest for Christmas Day!

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