A roundup of Advent resources for all ages.
By Barb Szyszkiewicz
There are plenty of Advent resources that focus on the sacred rather than the secular. You just need to know where to find them! Creative Communications for the Parish offers Advent booklets, decorations, and more that can be used by families and in classrooms and religious education programs. Like Today’s Catholic Teacher, Creative Communications for the Parish is a division of Bayard, Inc.
Here are my favorites from among the many Advent resources available from Creative Communications for the Parish.
Greeting-card Advent calendar.
Measuring just over 4×6 inches, these cute Advent calendars are small enough to display on student desks and have a kid-friendly Nativity scene pictured on the front. Behind each of the 24 windows on the front of these greeting cards are symbols and pictures as well as a Bible citation highlighting the true meaning of Christmas. Make it part of your daily classroom routine to open each day’s window together and discuss what’s hidden behind it!
Children’s Advent calendar: Count the Days, Count the Ways
is an 11×8 1/2″ sheet with mini-meditations and activities to help students focus on the coming of the Savior. Available in multiples of 50, these are wonderful resources for students to take home and share with their families.
His Name is Jesus
by Arden and David Mead. This Advent booklet focusing on the names of Jesus and their special meanings is perfect for students in pre-K through grade 5. Learn a new name for Jesus each day of Advent as you read the daily devotions that help students know who Jesus is and what he does for us. Each daily devotion concludes with a short prayer and topic for journaling or discussion.
Here Comes the Savior
by David Mead; illustrated by Chris Sharp. There is a lot to look forward to when December arrives. This Christmas, give eager children ages 3-8 something to be truly excited about: the birth of baby Jesus, our promised Savior! Through rhymes, songs, and simple games, the story of the God’s promise is brought to life for primary-aged children. This booklet is an ideal gift any time in December to help put the focus of our Advent expectation on the Bethlehem manger.
What do I see in Advent?
Introduce young children to the sights, sounds and symbols of the season with this engaging Advent wreath poster and sticker sheet combo. A brief explanation of each image is written on the back of the poster. As parents or teachers share the Advent message, children collect stickers to complete the colorful sheet.
Wonders of His Love: Family Devotions and Activities for Advent
by Amy Welborn. Advent gives us a natural opportunity to think about the many ways that God shows us the Wonders of His Love. It is a wonder that God sent his only Son, that Jesus humbled himself to be born in a manger and live in poverty. Together, each day of the season, prepare for the coming of the Lord through Scripture, reflection, prayers and activities. Let us look to Jesus in the manger and welcome him into our hearts. Many activities are esily adaptable for classroom use. A paper ornament
and table tent
are also available.
Christ is the Heart of Christmas
storybook by David Mead; illustrated by Chris Sharp. A fun way to prepare for Jesus’ birthday in a meaningful way in your primary-grade classroom. Each storybook includes an Advent activity sheet with a cutout Christmas tree and manger, plus 24 suggested activities and prayer ideas that children will enjoy. It’s designed for family use, but many of the ideas will work well in a classroom setting. Activity sheets are also sold separately so your students can each have one to take home and enjoy with their families.
The Manger on the Mantel: Sharing the True Gift of Christmas
storybook by David Mead; illustrated by Ed Koehler. Help your primary-grade students reflect on the events of the first Christmas night and the precious gift God put on display in the manger in Bethlehem. Each storybook includes an activity sheet with an easy-to-assemble cutout manger and 24 cutout “presents” with a Scripture verse and directions for moving the manger from place to place throughout the home. These activity sheets are sold separately so each of your students can take one home and enjoy the manger with their families.
Lighten Up for Advent: Devotions for Teens and Young Adults
by David and Peter Mead. Each of the 28 devotions offers food for thought, a light-hearted laugh, and a way for high-school or college students to fully prepare their hearts to meet and greet the Lord at Christmas. The encouraging reflection booklet is based around the four Advent candles and the message each one shares, and allows room for doodling or journaling.
Lighten Up for Advent teen Advent calendar.
Designed to coordinate with the booklet, this Advent calendar provides brief, spiritual reflections for each day. Through Bible verses and simple calls to action, this informative (and often funny) calendar helps teens welcome God’s Word in practical ways.
Creative Communications for the Parish also offers Advent devotional booklets for adults, which are inexpensive enough to order for the whole faculty. Here are just a few of their selections:
Let the Heavens be Glad: Inspiration from Henri J.M. Nouwen,
edited by Terence Hegarty. Henri J.M. Nouwen, one of the most beloved spiritual thinkers of the 20th century, wrote about the Incarnation of Christ in a way that has captivated and inspired readers the world over. Includes a Scripture verse, a select excerpt of Nouwen’s wriing, an original reflection based on that excerpt, and a short prayer for each day.
Heading to the Manger: Advent Meditations for Catholics from Great Writers of the Past.
All of us are heading to the manger during the season of Advent, but we are not making this journey alone. We have the voices of many faithful followers of Christ ringing in our ears as we draw closer to the newborn Christ. Listen to the voices of such Catholic luminaries as Thomas á Kempis, St. Augustine, G.K. Chesterton, John Henry Cardinal Newman, and others as they reflect on the miracle of Christmas toward which we are swiftly moving.
Living God’s Word: Scripture and Reflection for Each Day of Advent
by Christopher Klofft. This Advent journal guides you through the Church’s Advent readings and prompts you to journal thoughts each day of the season. As you reflect on the Word of God, insights invite you to welcome Jesus with your whole heart at Christmastime. Get your pen or pencil ready and begin creating a keepsake for yourself, based on the timeless readings of the Bible.
Christ is the Heart of Christmas
by Arden W. Mead. This booklet takes a look at the many activities we engage in this season, and puts Christ where he belongs: at the heart of each of them. This “topical” devotional encourages the reading of the devotions during the activities they represent — drawing awareness of this season’s true reason into all we do. Each page features a different holiday activity and includes a reflection, a call to action, and a prayer prompt for the day.
Barb Szyszkiewicz is editor at CatholicMom.com and managing editor of Today’s Catholic Teacher.
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