I’ve been waiting for this week because I just love the JOY that goes along with Christmas! I think the “magic” that people associate with Christmas is really the JOY of Jesus’ birth!
Here are our activities for this third week of advent (that means only ONE more week till Christmas? more or less?!)
1. Star Scavenger Hunt
I’m going to cut out a million stars (or somewhere around there) and put them all in a big line a la Hansel & Gretl. I’ll let the kids follow the trail, while picking up the stars and when they get to the end, they will find a BIG star. Then they can glue all their stars to the big star and hopefully it will look like a cool-three-dimensional star.
Then we’ll compare their “journey” with the wise men’s journey and discuss the joy they had at seeing the star and the joy the angels proclaimed when the star (and the baby) arrived!
2. The Very First Noel Movie
This is my favorite Christmas movie EVER. I randomly picked it up when Lydia was one and she watched it EVERY SINGLE DAY in December that year. It is told from the wise men’s perspective and is all about the star–it even ends with a challenge to look at your Christmas lights and remember the star in Bethlehem.
It’s told in rhyme, narrated by Andy Griffith, with music by a Hawaiian choir and is actually about Jesus. The only part that’s off is that the wise men come to the stable. But that’s in every nativity scene anyway. Plus, the animation is good and there is some great humor. You need The Very First Noel in your collection!
We’ve watched it so many times already this year, so we’re going to play movie BINGO while we watch it. That way we can focus on the important parts.
3. Lighting an advent candle.
As we light our candle today, we’ll review our previous themes–Hope and Love. Then we’ll talk bout the word JOY. Focusing on the wisemen’s joy when the saw the star, the “good tidings of great joy” from the angels and also on the joy God gives us when we follow Jesus. The forever-joy that is in our hearts, not the temporary happiness or the fleeting excitement that Christmas can bring. We’ll sing Joy to the World and then pray.
4. Matthew 2:10 “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy.”
This is going to be part craft part memory work. I designed a “lacing card” with the verse. As you connect the verse in order with string, it will form a star. You can do this two ways–either attach it to cardboard or even plastic craft grid and literally sew with yarn OR attach it to a board and use nails/tacks to make real string art.
Download the lacing card here.
5. Star Craft
We’ll make an easy one this time–a shooting star craft. Asa can decorate and Lydia can cut…or maybe I’ll end up cutting and they’ll just decorate. If I’m feeling really Christmas-y that day we might even pull out the glitter!
6. J.O.Y. Service Project
There this old song I learned when I was a kid about the definition of joy by using an acronym:
By putting yourself last and Jesus first, with others in between, it brings real joy. I’d like to figure out a way to do a “service project” that would be the same for Jesus, someone else and then for themselves. If they were older, I’d give them money and let them divide it up and spend it–first for Jesus, then someone else and then themselves. I’m still trying to figure this one out for my preschool aged kids, though. Maybe we could do something with food–collect canned food for a ministry (Jesus), then bring some food to someone we know (others) and then after that we could eat our own lunch.
7. Joyful Stockings
I thought for a long time about this one. I really want to be able to “redeem” several Christmas symbols and I love what we did with gifts and the Christmas tree. This one was a little harder because relating a typical symbol to joy—the only thing I could think of was the star. And well, I think we’ve played that one out this week! So, I decided on a stocking. Why? Well, it’s something that can be FULL. Get it, JOYful?!
I’m going to read Psalm 100 which begins with “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!”. As we read the verse and talk about things we are thankful for, make us joyful, that God has given to us; we will write them down (or draw them) and drop them into the stocking. Hopefully we will fill up the stocking. And during the week as we think of other things we can continue to fill it up.
Later on, maybe at dinner one night or on Christmas Eve we’ll pull all the papers out of the stocking and talk about what JOYFUL things we can praise God for! I like this idea because I want to turn around the JOY Jesus brings and give some JOYFUL praise back to Him on His birthday!
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If you have any great ideas or are following along with these activities, please let me know by leaving a comment, blogging it or telling us on facebook! I just uploaded some pictures on facebook about some activities we did last week–stuff I didn’t have time to share on the blog but thought you might like to see.
Merry Christmas and JOY to you!