Advent Ideas for Time-Crunched Teachers

You have so much to do already, so how can you possibly focus on Advent? Here are some easy Advent ideas from one of our regular contributors.

By Barb Szyszkiewicz

To be honest, I don’t feel very Advent-ish at all, but I need to model a sense of quiet anticipation.

There are 18 second-graders in my classroom, and it’s my sworn duty to teach them all about Advent. It’s actually in the curriculum; their religion book has chapters for each season of the Church year.

A bulletin board Advent calendar

Before we headed off to Thanksgiving break, we made a giant Advent calendar on the bulletin board. The students created a lift-the-flap display, decorated with various seasonal symbols including candy canes, angels, a star and a stable.

Inside each little “door” of the calendar is an activity (fun, festive or devotional) suggested by the kids. These include things like eating dinner by the light of the Christmas tree, going Christmas caroling, and setting out the family’s manger scene. The children brought home their full list of Advent activities to show their parents in advance of the season.

You have so much to do already, so how can you possibly focus on Advent? Here are some easy Advent ideas from one of our regular contributors.

This is the Advent calendar we used in our classroom.

I’m bringing Sarah Reinhard’s Advent booklet, Welcome Baby Jesus, which is geared toward families but works well in the classroom too! We will make time daily for the short reflection and prayer.

Other hands-on Advent ideas throughout the classroom

A miniature Christmas tree in my classroom is perfect for hanging Jesse Tree ornaments. The students will color and hang those ornaments as we go through the season (on Fridays, we’ll hang the ones for the weekend days). Don’t know from a Jesse Tree? Don’t feel bad; I don’t either. I’m relying upon the extensive Advent resources Christine Johnson at Domestic Vocation has compiled. You can even subscribe to her site via email and receive the devotionals day by day.

We will make little mangers out of cardboard jewelry boxes and line them up next to a container of yellow basket filler. When the children do a good deed for someone else, they can put a “straw” in their manger. By the beginning of Christmas break, everyone should have created a soft bed for Baby Jesus.

Finally, I’ll take the Holy Family figures from an unbreakable toy manger scene and let the students move them around the classroom, each day getting closer to the stable. The journey to Bethlehem will begin at my desk.

What are your favorite Advent ideas?

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan and freelance writer. Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb volunteers at the school library and is a music minister at her parish. She is also an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Barb blogs at FranciscanMom and shares her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.