Title: Come, Lord Jesus, Come (An Advent Activity)

Grade level: 3-4

Overview: Advent is the special time of year during which the Catholic Church prepares for the coming of Jesus. Advent is a time of awe-filled anticipation before Christmas—a time to reflect on Jesus’ first coming as we look toward his second coming.

Objectives: Students will:

1. Learn what Advent is
2. Study a short history of Advent
3. See what liturgical colors are used during Advent and learn their significance
4. Learn about the Advent wreath: the significance of the colors, the candles, the circle, and the evergreens
5. Learn about Advent and pre-Christmas customs of different countries
6. Make a classroom Advent calendar or use an online calendar to count down the days of Advent

Suggested Time Allowance: 5 days.

  • Day 1. Discuss waiting: How do we wait? Explain the "waiting season" of Advent. Explore Advent activities, the meaning of Advent, and the symbols of the season.
  • Day 2. Have the class divide into small groups (ideally, two or three children each) to research the Advent customs of different countries. Have each group begin work on a presentation about one country.
  • Day 3. Continue working on the presentations.
  • Day 4. Have each group make its presentation to the class.
  • Day 5. Discuss what families do during Advent to prepare for Christmas. Make an Advent calendar for the classroom incorporating prayers, family traditions, and other activities suggested by the children.

Resources/Materials: a computer with Internet access; software (HyperStudio or PowerPoint) for multimedia presentations; a large wall calendar covering the period of Advent, with space to add text and pictures.

Activities/Procedures:

Note: You may want to locate the links suggested for this activity in advance and bookmark them for the students’ use.

1. Define waiting. Ask the students: What is something that you look forward to? Answers may range from birthdays, Christmas, and summer vacation to exciting trips or the arrival of special guests.

2. Have the children consider their feelings of anticipation during a period of waiting. Talk about how sometimes it feels as if the event will never happen. Ask the students: Do you do anything special to help make the waiting time "go faster"? Do you mark the "big day" on a calendar and count off the days until it comes? Do you talk to other family members about special visitors and make plans for what you will do when they arrive? Relate this discussion to how the ancient Hebrews waited for the arrival of the Savior. Explain how we commemorate this time every year during the season of Advent.

3. Begin the lesson on Advent by visiting the Encarta Online Encyclopedia for a brief article on the history and significance of Advent http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761570774/Advent.html. If you wish to search further in Encarta’s online encyclopedia and dictionary, you can do so at Encarta’s home page, at http://encarta.msn.com.

4. An excellent essay on the meaning of Advent and how we celebrate the season can be found online at CyberFaith www.cyberfaith.com. Follow the Liturgical Year link on the home page to the interactive liturgical calendar page; once there, click on the Advent icon to access an in-depth essay about the season, its themes, its colors, and its symbols. After the class has read the material on this site, discuss the following:

  • When does the season of Advent begin?
  • What does the word Advent mean?
  • What liturgical colors are used during Advent?
  • What do the colors symbolize?
  • What are the main liturgical themes during Advent?

5. Have the class visit www.cptryon.org/prayer/adx/adwreath.html to learn about the Advent wreath, its prayers, customs, and history. (Note: This page is part of a larger site maintained by the Passionist Missionaries. You can visit the site’s other Advent and Christmas pages by clicking on the links at the left-hand side of the Advent wreath page, or you can go directly to the "Prayers and Customs of Advent and Christmas" introduction at www.cptryon.org/prayer/adx/index.html.)

6. Children enjoy learning the holiday customs of different countries. Divide the class into small groups of two or three children each. Have each group choose a country from the Yahooligans Christmas Around the World Web page

www.yahooligans.com/School_Bell/Social_Studies/Religion/Christianity/Christmas/Christmas_Around_the_World/.

7. Have each group follow the link to the site for its chosen country and study the customs described. Ask the students to find the answers to the following questions:

  • What December or Advent customs are followed in your chosen country?
  • Are there any similarities between these customs and the customs followed in the United States?
  • Do the people in your chosen country prepare any special foods at this time of year?
  • Are any saints’ feast days celebrated in your chosen country during December? (Example: December 5, the eve of the feast of St. Nicholas, is celebrated in the Netherlands.)

8. Have each group share its findings with the rest of the class. This can be done in short presentations (three or four slides) using HyperStudio, PowerPoint, or a similar program. Each presentation should include a title slide giving the name of the group’s chosen country and a slide showing or describing some of the Advent celebrations of that country. The final slide or slides can offer something new or special that the group has learned about the country.

9. Brainstorm with the class to prepare an Advent calendar. The calendar should include activities to do together in school and activities to do at home with the family. Ask the children to suggest items to include on the calendar. Look for a variety of activities and images. These might include:

  • prayers appropriate to the season (example: "Come, Lord Jesus, Come" and other simple prayers)
  • Scripture passages appropriate to the season (example: Luke 1:26–38)
  • images and symbols appropriate to the season (examples: pictures of seasonal saints; images of angels, wreaths, candles, and evergreens)
  • suggestions for charitable activities (examples: sending cards to a nursing home or hospital, collecting canned foods for a food pantry, taking up a collection for the St. Vincent de Paul Society)
  • traditional Advent activities (Christmas caroling, baking special seasonal cookies, "decking the halls" at school and at home)
  • Advent customs and celebrations from around the world.

When you have chosen the images and activities to include on the calendar, enter them on the designated days and hang the calendar in a prominent place in the classroom.

Supplemental Activities:

1. Have the students visit the Passionist Missionaries’ Children Pray: Advent and Christmas www.cptryon.org/prayer/child/adv.html Web page. Have the class share the weekly prayers on the site in class during the weeks of Advent.

2. If it is possible for the class to access the Internet every day, have them make a daily visit to the Advent calendar www.smmp.com/Advent/Advent.htm at the Web site of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Naperville, Illinois. (Note: The home page for this parish is at www.smmp.com/smmpinfo.htm.)

Links:

Catechism Correlation: An approved edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be found on the Internet at www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm . The paragraphs that relate to Advent are #523 (on John the Baptist as the immediate precursor of Christ) and #524 (on the preparation for Jesus’ first coming and our desire for his second coming). When you have accessed the Web site, use the site’s built-in search engine to find the topics and/or paragraphs you need.

Created by: Mary Morin, Director, St. Luke Faith Formation, Carol Stream, Illinois. Mary began this ministry as a catechist and is now in her sixth year as Director of Religious Education.

 

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