That’s the last thing my kids need! All they think about is Christmas!
I know what you mean. I remember one of our grandkids who, as a three-year-old, took all the toy catalogues that came in the mail and circled everything in each one that Santa should bring! And, of course, almost everything was circled!
I just wonder if doing some things intentionally with our children to help them remember Jesus might counteract some of the overwhelming advertising that they see every day?
Let’s do this first: without any framing or context, just ask your kids why Christmas is a holiday. You might do it like this:
1) Hey, kids, why do we have Christmas anyway?
2) Does anyone know how Christmas got started?
3) What’s the best thing about Christmas?
I’m guessing that at least 50% of the time, you’ll get something about presents. Older kids may mention Jesus, so if they do, here are some follow-up questions for you to try:
1) So what does the birth of Jesus have to do with Christmas?
2) Do you think most people are celebrating the birth of Jesus? What do you think most people are celebrating at Christmastime?
3) When do you think about Jesus at Christmas?
That’s just the starting activity for you as parents to find out where your kids are. Knowing what they think will help you prepare for the rest of Advent.
Of course, I don’t know what your kids will say to these questions, so I’m just going to share with you some different activities that you might try to help your kids think about Jesus during this season. You pick and choose what works for your kids–or discard completely and substitute your own ideas.
This first week of Advent is almost over, so use these ideas Saturday and Sunday and on Saturday, I’ll post the second week of activities, and then each week, I’ll give you some more ideas for that week. I’d love to hear the ideas that you add to these. Please share them with all of us.
First Advent Week God So Loved the World
The Big Idea:
From the beginning, God loved us so much that He planned to send Jesus—to the whole world!
- You might find an inexpensive globe—any size—and use it to talk about God making the whole world and loving every single person in every country. You could take some modeling clay and let your child make a big Earth of clay and then “populate” it with dots. Message: God planned when He made the world to send Jesus to help us because He loves us so much!
- I love advent calendars—you know, the ones with 25 little windows that children can open each day before Christmas. The typical ones have little pieces of candy behind each window. Candy is part of God’s goodness, so I wouldn’t avoid those. There are also Christian advent calendars that have verses behind each window—or pictures of some nativity person or event. You can find them at Christian bookstores or online.
- I saw a great idea for making your own advent calendar while we were in Germany. They took a simple length of rope—maybe 4-5 feet long—and then they used very small children’s mittens, one for each day, hung on the rope by a wooden clothes pin. I don’t think you put 25 up, rather 7 for each day of that week, and then you can put a little verse, a little picture you have cut out, a little figure perhaps—and don’t forget a little piece of candy!
- If your kids are a little older, you might try reading Isaiah 9:6-7, and talk with them about the fact that Isaiah is telling about Jesus 700 years before Jesus is born. God loved us so much that He began His plan hundreds of years (really thousands—you can go back to Abraham’s promise(Gen 12:1-3) —or further to the first prophecy of Jesus to Eve (Gen. 3:15). Then, I’d suggest asking your older child, what could they do that would bless someone in the future, maybe someone who would be born 100 years from now—and let them do it!
I want to suggest some good music each time as well. I myself am a big believer in exposing kids to good classical music, so the first song I’d suggest is from Handel’s Messiah, “For Unto Us A Child Is Born”—one of my favorites.
If you need something lighter, but still classy, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “Come Darkness, Come Light” is one that has great words, a simple melody, and it will be new to your kids. You can find both of these easily online.
That’s enough for the first week of Advent. I’ll have more for you for next week on Saturday. Let me hear how this first week goes.