A 15 Day Adventure into Advent

Fifteen Activities for the School Days of Adventure in a 

Kindergarten classroom

Monday November 28 is the first Monday of Advent.   Get your students to help you to put away the green cloth from your prayer centre and put the purple cloth on your table.  You will want to explain that purple is the colour for Advent.  The Church calendar begins with the season of Advent, the way that the everyday calendar begins with New Year’s Day.  Advent is the Church season before Christmas.  Advent helps us to get ready. Advent is the first part of the word Adventure.  We are going to go on an Adventure of waiting from today until December 16th when the holidays begin.   

Tuesday November 29  is the first Tuesday of Advent.  Teach the students the song, “Are We Ready?” to the tune “Frère Jacques/Are You Sleeping?”

Are we ready?  Are we ready?

For our Lord?  For our Lord?

Make for him a pathway

Make for him a pathway

To our hearts, to our hearts.

Light the first candle and sing the song.  Ask the class to respond to each line you say with “Thank you, God.  

Leader:  For the season of Advent, All: Thank you, God.

Leader: For the colour of Advent, All: Thank you, God.

Leader: For time to get ready, All: Thank you, God.

Leader: (to children) Do you have something that you are thankful for that you would like to share?  After each child shares All: Thank you, God.

You may want to sing “Are We Ready?”  again at the end.

Song and prayer adapted from 30 ten-minute Prayer Celebrations for Young Children by Debbie M. Repp, page 4-5

Wednesday November 30 is the first Wednesday of Advent and it’s the feast of St. Andrew.  If you have an Advent wreath put it in your prayer centre.  If you don’t have a wreath, use a large cardboard ring painted green.  Point out to the children that the circle is a symbol of God’s eternal love and the colour green represents eternal life.  God has no beginning and no end just as it is difficult to tell where the circle begins and ends. God’s love for us also has no end.  

Thursday December 1 is the first Thursday of Advent.  Ask the class leader which Advent candle is lit.  Sing the song “Are We Ready?”  Read the following Advent Story.  Have the ECE be Jerome and the teacher be Rachel.  If you have another adult in the room, that person can be the narrator.  

An Advent Story

“What are you doing, Jerome?”  Rachel asked.

Jerome was sitting on the floor.  Scattered around him were papers and boxes, tangled strings of lights and bright tinsel garland.  “It’s the first day of Advent.  It’s time to get ready for Christmas.”

Rachel shook her head.  “I haven’t even thought about it yet,” she sighed.

“Well, you better start,” Jerome admitted.  “Advent is the time to buy presents, send out Christmas cards, and make a list of what you want.”

Rachel was silent for a while; then she spoke softly.  “I don’t know Jerome.  Father said at Mass that Advent isn’t just about decorating and shopping and baking and making lists of things for people to give us.  He said that’s not what Jesus wants.”

“Probably not,” Jerome said.  “But that’s what everybody does during Advent.  We can’t change the world, can we?”  The two friends sat in silence, each one thinking their own thoughts.

“No,” Rachel finally agreed, “we can’t change the world, but we can change ourselves.  Jesus said, ‘Stay awake and watch carefully.’  He wants us ready when he comes again.”

“What do you mean, comes again?”  Jerome wondered. ‘Like another Christmas?”

“Nobody knows,” Rachel said. “But Jesus says we have to be ready.”

“But how?” Jerome asked.

“Well, we can do all the same things as getting ready for Christmas, but do them for Jesus.”

“You mean like instead of making a Christmas list, we’ll make a list of things we can do for Jesus?”  Jerome asked.

“And for others,” Rachel said.  “Remember, Jesus said that whatever we do for others, we also do for him.”

Jerome’s mind started racing with ideas.  “We can make our morning prayer a getting ready prayer and ask Jesus to fill us with his love.”

“That’s good!”  Rachel agreed.  “And we draw pictures for older people in retirement homes and nursing homes.”

As Rachel and Jerome talked, the light of God’s love in their hearts kept getting brighter and brighter.  They were getting ready for Jesus.  Are you ready for Jesus?”

Adapted from Bundles of Faith and Tons of Fun by Patricia Mathson pages 62-63

Friday December 2 is the first Friday of Advent   Light the first Advent candle.  Read Matthew 3:3.  Then say “In God’s Word written by St. Matthew we hear “Prepare the way of the Lord.”” Ask your class, what does it mean “Prepare the way of the Lord.”?  Let the students share what they think it means.  Hopefully someone will pick up the meaning from the song…Prepare for Jesus a pathway to our hearts.  Jesus wants to live in our hearts.  We need to open our hearts for Jesus.  Jesus wants to fill our hearts with his love.  

Response to God’s Word – once all the sharing has taken place invite the students to respond to each line you say with “Prepare the way for our Lord.”  You may want to write this on chart paper or the Board so those who may need a reminder, may get a clue about the response.

Leader: The season of Advent is a holy time.

All:  Prepare the way for our Lord.

Leader:  Now is the time to open our hearts to Jesus.

All:  Prepare the way for our Lord.

Leader:  Now is the time to receive Jesus’ love.

All:  Prepare the way for our Lord.

Leader:  We watch, we wait, in this holy time.

All:  Prepare the way for our Lord.

Prayer adapted from 30 ten-minute Prayer Celebrations for Young Children by Debbie M. Repp, page 5

Monday December 5 is the second Monday of Advent Ask your class, how many candles do we light now?  Light the first candle and move around the wreath clockwise to the second purple candle and light it. Light the two candles in the wreath.  

Sing “This Little Light of Mine.”  Ask the students to share one way that they have let their light shine since yesterday.  If possible, let each child share one thing.  Ask the children to respond “We thank you, God to each prayer then say the Thank You Prayer: 

Leader: For the gift of love that we receive from our families and friends,

All: We thank you, God.

Leader: For Jesus, God’s most precious gift to us,

All: We thank you, God.

Leader: For the joy we feel inside when we share our light with others,

All:  We thank you, God.

Leader: (to children) Do any of you have something you are thankful for that you would like to share?

All: Thank you, God. (Use this response after each child’s prayer.)

Prayer adapted from 30 ten-minute Prayer Celebrations for Young Children by Debbie M. Repp, page 7

Tuesday December 6 is the second Tuesday of Advent and the Feast of St. Nicholas.  Tell the class that today is the Feast of St. Nicholas.  St. Nicholas let his light shine by helping poor people, especially one family.  [if you can get a little bag of gold – at the Dollar store they often have little bags of gold foil chocolate coins].  Show the students the little bag of gold.  Tell them the following story.

“St. Nicholas was the bishop of Myra a long time ago.  He knew that there was a family who had three daughters.  Back then, families needed to have gold to give when the daughters were married.  But the family was poor and did not have any gold.  So St. Nicholas went to the poor family’s house at night and threw a small bag of gold into the window.  He did this three times so each of the daughters could get married.  St. Nicholas was a good and holy man who liked to share.”

You may want to have your students create a mitre (bishop’s hat) so they can dress like St. Nicholas the bishop.  If you want the pattern, email me and I will scan it and send it to you.  OR you can teach the class the song It Feels So Good to Give! to the Tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”  

It feels so good to give!

It feels so good to give!

I love to make God’s children smile, it feels so good to give!

Song adapted from 30 ten-minute Prayer Celebrations for Young Children by Debbie M. Repp, page 6

Wednesday December 7 is the second Wednesday of Advent and it is the Feast of St. Ambrose.  Light the two candles in the wreath.  Sing “This Little Light of Mine” for the second week of Advent.  Ask the students “How will people know that your light is shining?”  [By the way we live – smiling, being kind, being loving….]  St. Ambrose was a good and holy man who let his light shine brightly.  Ask your students to decide what way they are going to show their light this week.  Say a prayer like, “Jesus, help us to let our lights shine this week. Amen+” Turn the candle off.  Throughout the day reinforce the idea of letting their lights shine.   

Thursday December 8 is the second Thursday of Advent and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception  Ask the students how long they think Advent is?  It is four weeks of waiting so the church uses four candles to help us.  Show the candles to students [three purple and one pink; if you don’t have coloured candles, tie purple and pink ribbon on the white candles will work.] Why do you think we have a pink candle and not just four purple candles?  The church knows that it is difficult to wait patiently so the pink candle helps us to know that we are more than halfway through Advent.  Pink gives us hope and joy.  Light the first two candles.  [With such young students, it may be advised to use electric candles that the children can switch on when they are playing in the prayer centre.]  Say a wee prayer, like “Loving God, help us to wait patiently for Jesus’ birthday.  Amen+”  

If you want to introduce your students to the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary,  show them plush Mary and explain that God had a very special role for Mary and He prepared her from before she was born.  God knew he wanted Mary to be Jesus’ mother.  Of course Mary could have said “No, thank you” to the Angel Gabriel but we know that Mary said “Yes, I will be Jesus’ mother.”

Friday December 9 is the second Friday of Advent and it is the Feast of Juan Diego.  Light two candles in the wreath.  Sing “This Little Light of Mine.”  Invite the students to trace their foot on a folded piece of paper.  Cut out the foot on the folded piece of paper so there are actually two feet.  Put the students’ name on one of their feet.  Get them to draw a picture of one way they have let their light shine this second week of Advent.  Put the feet up around the room walking together through Advent OR send the feet home to show their parents that the class is on an Adventure.

Monday December 12 is the third Monday of Advent and it is a special day. Today  is a special day of prayer with all of our First Nations, Inuit and Métis brothers and sisters in Canada.  The bishops have asked all of us to pray for them on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  [Search for an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Google images] and tell the story in a simplified form as follows.  On December 9th (in 1531) many years ago a Aztec Indian named Juan Diego was walking to Mass and a beautiful lady dressed like an Aztec maiden surrounded by light appeared. [show the google image of Our Lady]  She told him she was the Immaculate Virgin Mary.  She asked Juan Diego to have a big church [a shrine] built there at the spot.  She said, “Ask for my help.  Here I will listen to people’s prayers and I will help them.”  Mary then asked Juan to tell the bishop of her desire.  When Juan went to the bishop, the bishop did not believe him.  Finally the bishop told him to ask “his lady” for a sign that she was truly the Mother of God.  When Juan asked Mary for a sign, she told him to return the next day.  In the meantime, however, Juan’s Uncle Bernadino became very ill, and Juan had to stay home to care for him.  By Tuesday the uncle was dying, so Juan set off to get a priest.  On the way he met the Holy Virgin.  Embarrassed, he apologized for not meeting her the day before.  Mary replied, “Now listen to me.  Do not let anything bother you, and do not be afraid of any illness, pain, or accident.  Am I not here, your mother?  Are you not under my shadow and protection?  What more could you want?  Don’t worry about your uncle.  He is well already.”  Mary then told Juan to go to the top of the hill and gather the flowers growing there.  Juan knew that nothing grew on that rock hill, let alone in the middle of winter!  However, he climbed the hill.  At the top he found gorgeous roses!  He picked them and brought them to Mary, who arranged them in his tilma, or cloke, which his wife had made.  Mary told Juan to take them to the bishop.  Standing before the bishop, Juan opened his white tilma, letting the fragrant roses fall in a shower to the floor.  Imagine the bishop’s surprise at seeing roses in winter!  But he saw a greater miracle.  On Juan’s tilma a life-size image began to appear.  Juan gasped!  It was his “Lady!”

Juan’s tilma is on display at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to this day.  

St. Juan Diego, pray that we have your love for Mary.  And we pray that we can be friends with all our First Nations, Inuit and Métis brothers and sisters in Canada. Amen+

Tuesday December 13 is the third Tuesday of AdventLight the two purple candles and the pink candle.  Speak to the class about the symbolism of a candy cane.  Jesus is often called the Good Shepherd.  A shepherd uses a cane or long hook to guide the sheep back to the fold.  As a bishop, St. Nicholas carried a staff as a symbol of his relationship with God and the people he served.  Bishops today still carry the staff (crozier) when celebrating with the community.  Follow-up by making candy canes by twisting a red and white pipe cleaner together.  Send them home with a brief explanation. Blow out the candles.

Wednesday December 14 is the third Wednesday of Advent.  Light the two purple candles and the pink candle.  Advent is a season of wonder as we reflect on all that God has done for us and the world that God created.  We reflect on all that the coming of Jesus means to us and to our world.  Sing the song “Twinkle, Twinkle little star.”  Ask the students if they ever just look up at the stars at night.  It is amazing!  The stars are so far away but we can see their light.  Ask the students if they know about the star that was in the sky before Jesus was born.  The star shone so brightly that it guided the wise ones to his birth place in Bethlehem.  [if there is time, ask the students to make a star to take home.]

Thursday December 15 is the third Thursday of Advent.  Light the two purple candles and the pink candle.  Advent is a season to share God’s love.  Have a gift box wrapped up and inside put a piece of paper that says “GOD’S LOVE”.  Ask the students – “Did you ever get a gift that you really liked?”  The season of Advent is a wonderful gift in our lives.  It is an opportunity to live in love and share God’s love with others.  How will you share the gift of God’s love with others today?  How will you share the gift of God’s love with your family today?  Sing “The Little Light of Mine” as a way to close the session.

Friday December 16 is the third Friday of Advent.  Light the two purple candles and the pink candle.  Bring in a stable or create one from a box.  Explain that St. Francis of Assisi was concerned that many people did not truly understand Jesus’ birth.  He was the first person to put together a crèche/manger scene to help people.  Read the story below to help the students understand the manger scene.

St. Francis and the Baby in the Manger

It was Christmas Eve.  The holy man named Francis and his friend Giovanni stood with the townspeople of Greccio in a cave in the nearby hills.  All around them, torches and candles danced light and shadows on the people’s faces.  A few days before, Francis had asked Giovanni to set up the cave to look like the stable Jesus had been born in hundreds of years before.  It even had a manger with hay so people could see what kind of bed little Jesus had slept in.

Francis planned to have Christmas Eve Mass in the stable that Giovanni had created.  Francis sang and preached.  His voice was filled with his love for Jesus.  Giovanni listened with his heart as well as his ears.  He saw Francis go over to the hay-filled manger and gently touch the rough wooden box.  Then Giovanni blinked.  Could it be?  Could there be a sleeping baby in the manger?  It had been empty only seconds before, but Giovanni thought he saw a baby!  Francis went on talking, tenderly touching the baby, who stirred and woke.  Giovanni stared.  Francis had awakened the Christ Child!

The others around them sang more joyfully.  Giovanni was not certain if they too saw the Child but he joined in with their songs.  Then the manger was empty again, but everyone’s hearts were full.  The singing went on into the night.  The service ended but never the joy.

And now, hundreds of years later, many people set up mangers and stables, just as Giovanni helped Francis do, so long ago. 

Adapted from the The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions for Children’s Faith Formation, page 73

To end the session, sing either “Are We Ready?” or “This Little Light of Mine.”  Put a star on top of the crèche, if possible suspend it above the stable/cave.  [if you don’t own a manger scene…make one.]  Keep creche set up until after holidays because it will be the season of Christmas when we return.

This is when our holidays begin.  The fourth Sunday of Advent is on December 19 and it is only six days long; Christmas eve is on December 24.  

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