Advent is upon us , and we are continually trying to use that period of waiting to warm our hearts towards our Savior. Here are some of the ways we have found to do this, especially with our kids in mind (ages 8 and under):
Advent Calendar: We bought an advent calendar from Desiring God Ministries several years ago, when our oldest was just 2. Noel Piper developed it for her kids and talks about it in her book, Treasuring God in our Traditions. Each day, we read a little more of the Christmas account and then add another piece to the manger scene. By the end of the month, the kids pretty much have the entire Christmas account memorized. At ages 8, 6 and 3, they are most excited about coming down together on Christmas morning to put baby Jesus in the manger!
Special Month-long Studies: Since we are currently homeschooling our kids, we have tried to incorporate a special month-long advent study into our school routine. For the past two years, we did a study on the names of Jesus. We would read the name and a verse associated with it and then discuss what that name means. Then, I would have the kids copy the name onto a special page and cut out and add a copy of the verse, a definition of terms and a picture to remind them of that particular name. All of these pages were collected into a booklet that they could refer back to throughout the month.
This year, we are doing our first Jesse Tree study, using materials I found here. The kids each painted a picture of a tree two Sundays ago and have been coloring and adding pictures to it each day as we read and discuss a passage together. Alongside of the Jesse Tree readings, we have been reading a chapter from The Jesus Storybook Bible each morning in our family devotions.
Hymns: Our family likes to sing. There is nothing so delightful as hearing your 3 year old son walking around the house singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” at the top of his lungs (literally!). So, naturally, advent presents a rich opportunity for learning and enjoying great music. In addition to our regular devotional singing times, we have been learning a Christmas hymn a week this year.
A few years ago, we purchased Christmas Carols for a Child’s Heart (Tada and Wolgemuth). We pulled it out this year and have been enjoying the comments about each carol as we learn our weekly hymn.
Family Fun: On or about the 23rd, we have a family movie night and watch The Nativity Story together.
Christmas books we are enjoying this year:
Jesus: The Promised Child (Mackenzie)
Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend (Stiegemeyer)
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Wojciechowski)
The Truth About Christmas (Jeffery)
The Plan: How God got the world ready for Jesus (Fergusen)
The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats (Peterson)
A Tree for Christmas (Mackall)
My Merry Christmas: and the Real Reason for Christmas Joy (Clearwater)
Baby Bible: Christmas Storybook (Currie)
How about you? What ways have you found to celebrate advent with your family?