The liturgical calendar offers us two seasons of waiting: Advent and Lent. The Advent season of waiting in joyful hope for the birth of our Lord Jesus often gets overlooked in the rush to prepare for Christmas. Children are notoriously impatient (as are many adults), so Advent is a good opportunity to teach the value found in anticipating the big event. We do this by choosing activities that instruct them on the importance of waiting and preparing our hearts to meet Christ in the person of Jesus.
- Make an Advent chain. Use paper chains to help students visualize waiting. Give children 26 purple strips of paper to glue into an Advent paper chain. Encourage the children to write an activity or prayer on each strip. As they count down the days, they can do the activity or prayer before tearing the link off the chain.
- Light a class Advent wreath. Whether your class meets on Sundays or on a weekday, start each lesson by lighting an Advent wreath as you come together. This activity opens the opportunity to discuss the Sunday readings, talk about where you are in the Advent journey, and pray together.
- Use the color of Advent. Make a show of using the color purple in class. Add purple fabric to your class prayer table, give the children purple crayons or markers, and use purple paper for any handouts. It’s a fun, simple thing they will remember.
- Prepare for the birth of Jesus. Read picture books that tell the story of the Annunciation and other events leading up to Jesus’ birth. Elementary-age students love to act out Bible stories. It is a nice change of pace that gets them out of their chairs and involved, and it makes the story memorable for them.
- Read the Old Testament. Share with the class God’s promises in the Old Testament to send a Savior for all. God prepared His people for Jesus, just as we are preparing now for his return.
- Decorate a Jesse tree. Using a tree branch with traditional symbols can help the children visualize the Bible stories of the Old Testament as a path that leads to Jesus.
- Celebrate Reconciliation. Celebrating the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation can be an important part of preparing ourselves for the coming of our Lord and Savior. Remind children and their parents of the gift of God’s mercy we receive in Reconciliation.
Selecting the right activity for your class depends on their age and how they enjoy learning. We all have to learn (and remember) that there is value in waiting. If we are to truly appreciate the coming of the Christ child, we must prepare and wait to meet him on Christmas.