Many of us think of Advent as a period in December to do fun things with our kids that help them understand the birth of Jesus. It’s also a time to create special memories of doing little things together as a family! We put together this Family Advent Activity Schedule to help you make this family time even more special, with suggestions of a simple craft and scripture for each day of Advent.
Let’s first take a minute to understand what Advent really means.
What is Advent?
The term Advent means “arrival.” The focus during the days of Advent is the anticipation of the birth of Jesus in his First Advent, and looking forward to his next arrival as Christ the King in his Second Advent. It isn’t just an anticipation of Jesus’ birth; it is a celebration of all we know about Jesus as he was, is, and is to come.
Kids love celebrating Advent because it gives them a chance to count down until Christmas! Moms and Dads enjoy it because they can do fun things each day to bring their kids closer to Christ and closer to family.
Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, or the Sunday nearest November 30. It ends on Christmas Eve, thereby containing four Sundays. Due to the start of Advent being variable, the number of days differ from year to year. This year in 2012, there are 23 days.
Many families get an “Advent Calendar,” with little windows to open each day that contain treats. However, other families look for more, as Advent is a great way to reinforce the true “reason for the season.”
Problem: Thinking up 23 Easy Things to Do!
Many more families would enjoy celebrating Advent—if fun, easy, informative and inexpensive. How do you do that 23 days in a row?
We’re got it all worked out, so that each day has a special 15-20 minute mini-celebration, containing a manger craft and Christmas scripture reading. We’ve heard from families who have enjoyed making a simple manger, one step each day, until it is complete on Christmas Eve (Advent Day 24). Thus we’ve combined their most fun and easiest ideas as part of the craft.
Easy Manger Craft: Create One Piece Per Day
We include our rendition of the simple manger, made out of a brown paper bag and almost all the pieces made out of clay. We’re providing a materials’ list, so that each day can be an easy one, knowing that you have the products on hand. But they’re loosely designed without parameters—most are made out of play dough then covered with little pieces of fabric or sparkles or yarn or ribbon or buttons. This is so you can include what you have around the house! Let your children’s creativity and imagination be part of the process.
The passages in the Bible concerning Christmas are among the most beloved by many Christians because of their beauty, truth, and, in the case of Old Testament prophecy, their astonishing accuracy! We’ve included one scripture per day that you can read while the children create a piece of the craft and set it in the manger. The scripture readings tend to get longer closer to Christmas because they are telling stories, and we don’t want to break up a story in the middle and spoil the suspense!
It’s all designed for flexibility!
The craft suggestions are flexible to whatever you have on hand in your sewing kit, craft containers, drawers and closets. They can be used as starting points to let your kids’ imaginations sore! As for the scriptures, you can add stories from your own childhood or special reasons the scripture touches you.
It’s all flexible; the point is to spend 15 to 20 minutes together with your children, having fun and learning about Christ.
Manger Materials List
- 1 Brown grocery bag, large
- Easter basket grass or shredded paper, enough to cover the stable floor.
- Play dough, multi-color pack
- 4. Small buttons, sequins, glitter, ribbon, colored tissue, and tiny fabric strips to dress the clay characters—whatever you have. Don’t be alarmed if you have to dress a wise man in a piece of a discarded terry towel strip. Kids love to imagine and will be quick to believe you if you proclaim that the terry strip has inlaid gold!
- 12-inch pipe cleaner
- Printer paper
- Markers, yellow and black
Keep all ingredients together in one box, drawer or container so they can easily be put away each day.
Family Advent Activity Schedule
Day 1: Sunday, December 2
Cut the stable out of a large brown grocery bag in the following way: Cut off three sides four inches from the bottom. Cut off the fourth side all the way at the bottom. Turn it over and, alas! Your stable!
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 7:14
Prophecy of the Virgin Birth
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Day 2: Monday, December 3
Mini-Craft: Easter Grass or Shredded Paper for Hay
Scripture Reading: Micah 5:1-2
725 B.C. Prophecy that Christ Would be Born in Bethlehem
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Day 3: Tuesday, December 4
Mini-Craft: Cow 1
Scripture Reading: Genesis 49:10
3500 B.C. Prophecy that Christ would come from the Tribe of Judah:
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
Day 4: Wednesday, December 5
Mini-Craft: Cow 2
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 23:5
500 B.C. Prophecy that Christ would be a Descendant of King David
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for Davida righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
Day 5: Thursday, December 6
Mini-Craft: Sheep 1
Scripture Reading: Psalm 72:10
1000 B.C. Prophecy that Christ would be Visited by the Wise Men
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts.
Day 6: Friday, December 7
Mini-Craft: Sheep 2
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:6
745 B.C. General Prophecy about Christ
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Day 7: Saturday, December 8
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-23
The Birth of Christ
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).
Day 8: Sunday, December 9
Mini-Craft: Camel 1
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:5-13
Prophesy to Zechariah about his son, John the Baptist
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.
Day 9: Monday, December 10
Mini-Craft: Camel 2
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:13-16
More Prophecy to Zechariah, father of John the Baptist
13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
Day 10: Tuesday, December 11th
Mini-Craft: Wise Man 1
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:17-20
More Prophesy to Zechariah, Father of John the Baptist
17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
Day 11: Wednesday, December 12th
Mini-Craft: Wise Man 2
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:21-25
Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist, Conceives
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor …”
Day 12: Thursday, December 13th
Mini-Craft: Wise Man 3
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-33
Angel Prophecies to Mary
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Day 13: Friday, December 14th
Mini-Craft: Shepherd 1
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:34-38
Mary Speaks Back to the Angel
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Day 14: Saturday, December 15th
Mini-Craft: Shepherd 2
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:39-45
Mary visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Day 15: Sunday, December 16th
Mini-Craft: Shepherd 3
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:46-59
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Day 16: Monday, December 17th
Mini-Craft: Angel 1
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:57-66
Zechariah, John’s Father, Regains His Voice at the Birth
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
Day 17: Tuesday, December 18th
Mini-Craft: Angel 2
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:67-79
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a hornof salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Day 18: Wednesday, December 19
Scripture Reading: Luke 2: 1-7
Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Day 19: Thursday, December 20
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-15
The Shepherds See the Angels
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Day 20: Friday, December 21
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:16-21
Shepherds Visit Jesus
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Day 21: Saturday, December 22
Mini-Craft: Swaddling Clothes
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-12
The Magi Visit Jesus via King Herod
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magifrom the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Day 22: Sunday, December 23
Using printer paper, trace a star and color it with the yellow marker. Tape it to the very top of the pipe cleaner. Create a small swirl with the bottom of the pipe cleaner and tape the swirl down behind the manger so that the star stands up over it.
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:22-36
Jesus Presented in the Temple
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Day 23: Monday, December 24
Mini-Craft: Baby Jesus
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:36-40
The Prophet Anna Sees Jesus
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
To Complete Your Advent Ceremonies
Light Four Advent Candles of Hope in glasses at all four sides of your manger scene. Make sure the candle glasses are not near to the manger or under anything!
The four candles stand for the following:
- God’s people (candle of hope)
- Old Testament Prophets (candle of peace)
- John the Baptist (candle of love)
- Mary Mother of Jesus (candle of joy)
We hope you enjoy celebrating Advent with your family this year.
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