How will you help your students pray and learn during the season of Advent? Advent is a time of wonder and hope as we await the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Here are a few ideas that you could try in your classroom to bring richer meaning to the season:
1. Add Meaning to Traditions
The Advent Wreath is likely the most recognized Advent tradition, but your students might not know all the symbolism it incorporates. Remind them that the four candles represent our waiting during the four weeks of Advent. The three purple candles symbolize our preparation and the rose (pink) candle on the third Sunday represents joy, because our waiting is almost over. The evergreen wreath reminds us that our faith never fades, and the circular shape is because God has no beginning and no end. The light of the candles is for Jesus, the Light of the World, and as the candles burn down and show the passage of time, we know that our waiting is almost over!
2. Pray with Advent Art and Music
Surrounding our students with beauty is easy to do during the season of Advent using sacred art and Advent hymns. Hold off on the Christmas tunes and instead curate a playlist of Advent music like O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. Pull up some beautiful sacred art that helps tell the story of the season to display on your smartboard or print to add to a prayer table.
3. Switch Out Your Book Basket
Pull out books that help your students to wait well during the month of December. In addition to books that tell the story of the first Christmas, look for books on the Jesse Tree, prayer books and devotionals, and resources that help teach about Advent traditions to add to your book basket or shelf.
4. Read Through Our Family Tree
Advent is the perfect time to help kids learn about the faithful men and women of the Old Testament. While we wait four weeks for Christmas, they had to wait thousands of years for God’s promised Messiah to come! We can help children better understand salvation history by including stories from the Old Testament in our Advent prayer. One wonderful way to do this is using the Jesse Tree, a devotion that highlights one figure each day as we count down the days to Christmas.
5. Celebrate with the Saints
In addition to the people of the Bible, men and women from every era show us how to live with faith and virtue. The season of Advent is filled with awesome Saints—St. Nicholas on December 6th, St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 9th and 12th, and St. Lucia on December 13th are a few examples. Choose a Saint or two in December and plan a special activity or treat to celebrate their feast days. The Saints model the universal call to holiness and how we are each uniquely called to follow Jesus.
Katherine Bogner is a Catholic school teacher from Central Illinois who is passionate about equipping parents, catechists, and teachers to share the beauty and truth of Christ and His Church with children. She is the author of All about Advent & Christmas: Sharing the Seasons of Hope & Wonder with Children, as well as the books Through the Year with Jesus and Through the Year with Mary. Visit her website, LookToHimAndBeRadiant.com, for free lesson plans, printables, and other resources for teaching the faith.