Saturday, November 26, 2011

Planning For Christmas

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent.
As always, I'm procrastinator extraordinaire!
Tonight, I am finally taking the time to get my Christmas-y act together!
Not that I haven't been thinking about what I plan to do with the kids over the holiday season!
It's my favorite time of year!
And I love the challenge of implementing Christ centered activities into our learning.
In the culture we live in, it can sometimes be difficult to point our childrens' minds and hearts (and ours!) to the real reason for the season.
But I truly believe it is our responsibility as parents to direct their focus (and change ours)!
Anyhow, without rambling on too much more, I'll simply share with you some of the things we'll being doing this December.
I'm super excited about ALL of it!

We've made it a tradition in our family to celebrate Advent.
This is taking time in the weeks leading up to Christmas to anticipate the coming of Christ.
As per usual, we will be lighting our Advent candles at supper each night.
But instead of doing our usual Advent devotion, we are going to make our first attempt at constructing a Jesse Tree.

(What is a Jesse Tree? The Jesse tree is the family tree of Jesus. It goes back to the very beginning, to Creation, and traces His family through the Old Testament, and it ends when He is born on Christmas day.

A Jesse tree is a little like an advent calendar, except that it emphasizes the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.
Like any advent countdown, the Jesse tree has one ornament per day. Unlike a calendar, though, the Jesse tree tradition focuses on a Biblestory, a character, a devotion each day. ~from How To Celebrate Advent With A Jesse Tree)

This is something I've wanted to do for a while but was unsure of how to go about it with young children.
Then I came across a free e-book: How To Celebrate Advent With A Jesse Tree at Feels Like Home.
The devotions for each day are geared to younger kids and it includes printables to use for the ornaments!
Once I have our tree constructed and started I'll share more with you!

(We'll be using this book, The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean, as well!)

Secondly, I wanted something related to Advent to go along with our school time.
I was at a bit of a loss though because I wanted to do some different things from what we did last year but really did not have the time or energy to come up with all new crafts related to the different themes of Advent.
Thankfully, a new e-book by Amanda at Impress Your Kids was released: Truth in the Tinsel.

It is simply amazing!
I always worry when I order an e-book that its going to be full of ideas I've already done or come across online.
But  I was not disappointed with this purchase!
Each day focuses on a different aspect of the Christmas story and includes a Bible passage to read, a craft to make, discussion ideas and a related activity.
There are also printables for creating a paper chain or calendar with a clue for your child about each day's topic!
I can hardly wait to get started! 

Finally, we need some sweets!
And frankly, I'm fed up with the lack of quality in the store bought advent calendars - so we're making our own!
Using a mini muffin tin, some magnets, printable numbers and a variety of treats from the bulk barn, I'm putting together an advent calendar like this:

On the backside of each number magnet I'll be adding the clue for the day's topic from Truth in the Tinsel!

Well, that's that for our plans for the month ahead!
Now I better get moving as I still need to cut out ornaments and build a tree!
I'll keep you posted on how all these projects turn out but I hope these ideas get you creative juices flowing for teaching your children about the true meaning of the coming season, too!

Related links:

Additionally, if you have older children, I highly recommend The Jesse Tree Journey , a free e-book by Ann Voskamp! I love the printable ornaments provided!

I also highly recommend Hubbard's Cupboard's advent activities for those with young children! This is what we used last year and it was wonderful!

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