Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier every year. I am thankful that my school waits to celebrate Christmas, opting for a hearty Advent celebration instead. My classroom gets into the Advent celebration by including many fun traditions and service projects revolving around Advent.
On December 6 all the classes celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. Our kindergarten and first-grade classrooms celebrate this day by placing their shoes outside of their classrooms after they arrive in the morning. After their first class, the students check their shoes and find small candies and a candy cane left by St. Nicholas’s helper. In my third-grade classroom, we celebrate St. Nicholas in a more low-key way. Each student receives a candy cane and enjoys it while I read from The Legend of the Candy Cane.
The past few years, I’ve noticed many of my students talking about the Elf on the Shelf. I thought of a fun alternate activity that reflects our faith: “The Wandering Wise Men!” Each morning, I secretly place three figurines of the Magi somewhere in my classroom. When the students arrive, they search for the three Wise Men (and sometimes they will find a small gift too). On the last class before our Christmas break, I also hide a figurine of the baby Jesus. After the children have found all the Wise Men and the baby Jesus, I tell them the story of the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1–15) and share with them the popular saying, “Wise men still seek him.” After my students have returned from our Christmas break, I always celebrate Epiphany with them by reading one of my favorite stories, The Fourth Wise Man. We have a lively discussion; every year, at least one student asks if there really was a fourth Wise Man!
The traditions of Advent are fun and add to the excitement that is to come with the birth of Jesus. How do you celebrate Advent in your classroom? What traditions do you share with your students?
Remember to use the Advent lessons in the Special Seasons and Lessons section of Christ Our Life.