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Advent is defined (by Dictionary.com) as the period of waiting for Christ to come into the world. As Christians, we celebrate Advent each year for 4 weeks before Christmas.
It is a great time of preparation for the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Christ, but Advent can be passed over for the hustle and bustle that comes with the holiday season.
And as if making time to celebrate Advent as adults seems difficult, with work and busy schedules, many of us get overwhelmed at the idea of having to explain the Christmas story to young kids in a way that makes sense.
Going through Advent for the first time with a toddler, I was a little worried, that my daughter wouldn’t be able to understand anything other than Santa bringing presents on Christmas (which she does seem to understand clearly).
But with a few great activities and even movies, I think we have helped her to understand a little more about the good news that comes with the birth of Jesus.
Ways to Celebrate Advent with Young Kids
Read The Bible
For younger kids, I would recommend getting a children’s Bible and reading the Christmas stories there. We have the Jesus Story Book Bible and they do a great job of breaking down different parts of the birth story into smaller chapters that take about 5 minutes to read.
You can read one Christmas focused story a week, to signify the 4 weeks of Advent, or you can read those stories every night on repeat. Kinsley really likes the story about the shepherds, so we read that one pretty much every night.
If your kids are a little older, read through the different accounts of the Christmas story in the each of the Gospels.
Luke gets a lot of play during Christmas, but there is a lot of meat in the other Gospels, especially Matthew.
Mark and John skip straight to adult Jesus, but those can be great ways to help your kids understand that the baby we are Celebrating in this season, grew up to be the Savior for us all.
Read the first 1-2 chapters of each Gospel on Sunday evenings throughout advent and ask your kids what they understand about each story and what each story helps them know about who Jesus is.
A Jesse Tree is a form of an Advent calendar that helps your kids count down to Christmas with different Bible stories and ornaments that go along with them.
This will be something that your kids look forward to each evening as they get to put the ornaments on the tree.
You don’t need a special tree, you can use the tree you already have, or get the kids a very small tree for their playroom.
You can also cut a tree out of felt and stick that on a wall for your kids to use during Advent. If you want a tutorial on how to do that – you can use this one!
For your Jesse Tree ornaments, I would suggest purchasing those because I have found it hard to find the time to color or sew a set of our own. There are a ton of options on Etsy like this one or this one.
Watch The Star
I am always a little skeptical of how Biblically accurate movies will be and if that will be more confusing for kids, but The Star was really great!
I watched this with my 2-year-old and she was locked in for the whole movie. Obviously, there are some creative liberties since the story is told from the point of the animals that were involved in the Christmas story, but they do a really good job of covering all of the ups and downs that Mary and Joseph endured on their journey to deliver baby Jesus.
It was a really cute movie and it is a great resource to help little kids visualize the Christmas story and better understand all of the people involved.
Light Advent Candles
Traditionally, on every Sunday of Advent, you light a candle to signify that the light of God is drawing nearer. On Christmas day, you light a 5th candle to symbolize that Jesus, light of the world, has been born.
This is a fun activity that kids will look forward to each week, and as they get older, you can allow them to light the candles so they can feel even more a part of the tradition.
Play with a Nativity Scene
A great way to help little gets celebrate Advent is to get them a kid-friendly Nativity Scene. Our daughter loves pulling out her nativity set for playtime and it gives me an opportunity to explain to her who all of the figurines represent.
We have this Fisher Price version and Kinsley loves it when the star lights up and the music plays.
Unfortunately for us, sweet baby Jesus didn’t seem to make it back in the box after last Christmas, along with one of the wise men, so we have a few stand-ins at the moment. But just because it isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that our kids aren’t learning!
How does your family celebrate Advent?
While we focus on Advent, our time of waiting for Christ, during the Christmas season – it is good to remember that we are constantly in a season of waiting for the return of Jesus. While we won’t be looking for a baby this time, we can still celebrate aspects of Advent all year long until our waiting is finally over!