For 9 years we have been doing one of two options. We started with a "Genesis to Jesus" advent booklet. Later we added another option, "The Birth of Jesus". Both were 25 days of readings, questions, prayers and optional activities/music, etc (you can see the development of these and how we did them by looking through the advent posts).
For the stages our kids were at they were great. There were boxes to open, activities to do, craft if one had the energy and always a focus on Jesus and the main point of Christmas.
However, over the last year or so I have felt we needed to change it around a bit. The activities and craft no longer interested everyone. Last year no one wanted to draw the pictures. No one is excited by cheap plastic toys anymore. They still loved the boxes and the idea of doing the reading each day, but the content and delivery needed to change a bit. I felt that Mr 12 especially needed something to push him a bit more and that we all could do with some new material to think about and work through.
So this year, we are trying a new set of readings I have developed. It's called "Who is this man?"
- There are 24 readings (why did I think we could ever manage a reading/activity, etc on Dec 25!?). Each bring out an aspect of who Jesus is: such as in the image of God, word become flesh, son of God, creator, unchangeable, light of the world, good shepherd, etc.
- At the beginning I thought I would struggle to get 24 different ideas. In the end, I had to decide which to keep and which to leave out! There is so much we can learn about Jesus and who he is.
- There are some questions to think about
- There are some things to pray about
- There are no longer any activities or songs, but of course if we think of things that go along with them we can easily do them. Part of this is thinking about how to keep an almost teenage son still keen to interact with it.
- We will still do the boxes, as they are a family tradition now. We will put a title card in each so we can hang them up to see the progression.
- The boxes will have lolly treats or an instruction to 'look under the Christmas tree'. As we did last year, a fair number of gifts are given throughout advent, meaning there will be less presents on Christmas Day, but we have lots to play with and have fun with for the whole month. Already included is the new Colin Buchanan Christmas CD, which we are all keen to hear - that will be the present for Day 1!
If you would like to see this new material, it is available on the resources page: Who is this man? If you use Acrobat Reader, you can print it as a booklet, or however works for you. I still consider this to be in draft form until we do it this year and see how it goes. If you would like to try it, I would love your feedback on how it went, especially if you have also used my other material.
I also felt that the other material could do with a format update. None of the content has changed, but it just looks a bit better, again accessed by the resources tab:
- The Birth of Jesus. This one is better for those with younger children. It covers the story of the first Christmas.
- Genesis to Jesus. Possible better with older primary children, although we used it with littler ones too. It covers the story of the Old Testament and then how the promises lead to Jesus. I have stretched each day's readings over 2 pages, to allow the pictures to be drawn on the pages on the booklet itself if wanted (and to fit it all in better).
I had a great comment from April last year about how she inserts extra blank pages in the booklets so her kids can draw pictures into it and then keep them. I thought it was a great idea, and you might like to do it too.
I'll let you know how we find "Who is this Man?", but as usual you are welcome to use any of this material for your own families.