I just came across this series thanks to a friend of mine, and I liked it so much I thought I’d share it as a resource to all my readers with children (and, for all you adults out there – like me – who are children at heart!).
The Series entitled ‘Advent Adventure’, put together by Holy Heroes, guides families through daily activities of the Jesse Tree. It is a way of helping children to prepare for Jesus, while learning about his lineage and the scriptural basis for the celebration of his birth (and salvific mission). I like the fact that the stories are told – and designed by – children, for children. For example, this cute clip on sacrifice (from Day Three), explains how the small things we do for others prepares a place for the baby Jesus (just as doing good prepares our hearts):
The preparation began this last weekend, but it’s still not too late to start this Advent project with your little ones.
Day One – Explanation of the Jesse Tree Project and Resources.
Day Two – Monday the 29th: gives a good explanation of why we need to prepare, and how to help our children understand this:
To my children, preparing for the coming of Jesus always seemed like a wonderful game, until one day when my eldest child said to me, “I really don’t get this, because Jesus has already come.”
Then I realized that I had never explained that we are preparing not only for Jesus’ coming at Christmas, but for when He comes again…In fact, our whole lives should be a preparation to meet Jesus, but the Church gives us this wonderful time of Advent to really focus us on the coming of Jesus at Christmas…”
Day Three – Tuesday the 30th: the sacrifice manger (above) and the second part of the story of creation.
Day Four – Wednesday – December 1 – more about sacrifice, and the Jesse Tree – and the Fall of Man:
“Because battle is pretty rough sometimes, we have had to develop a sturdy set of sacrifice beads and a way to secure them reliably.”
Day Five – Thursday – December 2 – Noah and the Flood is explained:
“The Jesse Tree video is all about Noah and the Flood, which is a motif that re-echoes throughout Salvation History. Think of all the times that God rescues His Chosen Ones through water or with water! Have your children think about all the times they hear about this in their catechism, and how much water plays a part in our Faith.”
Day Six – Friday – December 3 - discusses the role of St John the Baptist in salvation history:
“John the Baptist is trying to get our attention. He is saying, “Wake up! He is coming! Prepare yourselves for the coming of the King of Kings!” And that is what Advent is all about.”
Day Seven – Saturday – December 4 – An introduction to St Nicholas and his feast day (Monday), and the Jesse Tree figure of the day – Isaac:
“St Nicholas is the patron saint of children. So Sunday night my children will put their shoes out by the fireplace, and overnight St. Nicholas will place in them some small token, or candy, or money…They are happy with the smallest token and that makes me realize it is not the stuff, but the celebration that they love.”
Day Eight – Monday – December 6 – Feast of St Nicholas and the praying of the Angelus:
“This practice is all but lost, but many have begun to revive it in their families before meals. We pray it before lunch every day. It is a beautiful and simple prayer, and a perfect prayer to contemplate during Advent.”
Day Nine – Tuesday – December 7 – About liturgical colors and for the Jesse Tree, Joseph, Son of Jacob:
“Today the video is about liturgical colors, something my children are always interested in because it is visual, symbolic, and they can learn it easily. It helps them to understand the meaning of the season before they can even understand the meaning of words like “penitential.””
Day Ten – Wednesday – December 8 – On the Immaculate Conception of Mary and for the Jesse Tree, Moses:
“There is one way in which Mary is not just like any other woman: she was conceived without Original Sin. She is a human person, just like the rest of us, except that we are all conceived with Original Sin. She was protected from Original Sin as a way to prepare her to be the Mother of God.”
Day Eleven – Thursday – December 9 – On Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego and for the Jesse Tree, Moses (continued):
“Today is a great feast day for Saint Juan Diego, the man who saw Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our first video gives you the basics about her miraculous appearances to St Juan Diego, a Mexican Indian, nearly 500 years ago…” (go to the page for the day to read more!)
Day Twelve – Friday – December 10 – Some ideas on what to do for Gaudate Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent), and for the Jesse Tree, Samuel:
“This third Sunday is called “Gaudete Sunday.” “Gaudete” means rejoice, so this is the Sunday when we can lighten up a little on the penitential aspect of Advent and rejoice that the Savior of the World is almost here…If your children have been doing some sacrifices, they can really feel the difference today if you do some fun Christmas preparation.
Need some ideas? Here’s one: We often invite friends over to play and sing songs, and the older girls like to make this “Christmas cookie baking day” with their friends.” (video in today’s lesson)
Day Thirteen – Saturday – December 11 – Looking at the life of St Lucy, Gaudate Sunday, and for the Jesse Tree, Jesse:
“Today the video is about St. Lucy. We also mention “Gaudete Sunday” and a bit about this Sunday’s Gospel, which again centers on John the Baptist. Let me comment a bit on both the above.
First, John’s baptism is different from the sacrament instituted by Christ, which we are heirs of today. Ask your older kids—in light of the Immaculate Conception video—how our current baptism is different from John’s.” (Go to link for more)
Day Fourteen – Monday – December 13 – A little history about the Nativity, and for the Jesse Tree, David:
“Today the video is about the Nativity or manger scene. Our son is going to show all the different parts of our Nativity dressed as St. Francis, because he is the Saint who popularized the Nativity.”
Day Fifteen – Tuesday – December 14 – A look at the Three Kings, and for the Jesse Tree, Solomon:
“It was a star that led them (the wise men), and while that in itself is miraculous, it is a physical thing. While our children have never seen a real angel, they have seen a star. And the gifts they brought were physical things, too, which we may not have seen—but we can.”
Day Sixteen – Wednesday – December 15 – What are the ‘O’ Antiphons, and for the Jesse Tree, Elijah:
“During the last seven days of Advent the antiphons are called the “Great O Antiphons,” because they each begin with the exclamation “O” and then a plea for the Messiah to come. Each “O Antiphon” invokes the coming of Christ by titles derived from Old Testament prophecies.” Click the link for more interesting information.
Day Seventeen – Thursday – December 16 – What gift should I give to Jesus?, and for the Jesse Tree, Elisha:
“Today our Advent Adventure video is about giving a gift to Jesus for Christmas. After all, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Since love is shown by actions, I try to encourage my children to give something to Jesus that will really help them develop their character, but also something they can actually complete for a set period of time.”
Day Eighteen – Friday – December 17 – the Blessing of a Christmas Tree, and for the Jesse Tree, Isaiah:
“When we arrange the gifts around the Christmas tree, the tree becomes a symbol of the Tree of Life, a figure of Christ, God’s greatest gift to all man.” P. John Paul II By blessing the tree, it ceases to be a pagan symbol, but a symbol of Christ.
Day Nineteen – Saturday – December 18 – the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, and for the Jesse Tree, Jeremiah:
“Because at Mass tomorrow (Sunday), you’ll hear what by now is a familiar story: the Visitation as recorded by St Luke. I hope your children recognize it and relish it, whether it is something new they’ve learned this Advent or something they are seeing new insights into.”
Day Twenty – Monday – December 20 – what are the 12 Days of Christmas, and for the Jesse Tree, Zechariah and Elizabeth:
“For Catholics, Christmas begins the night of Christmas Eve and continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when Jesus’ public ministry begins. (Yes, when you count all the days up, that’s more than 12 days!)” Click the link to find out more.
Day Twenty-One – Tuesday – December 21 – The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Annunciation:
“Today the Jesse Tree video is about the Annunciation and the Visitation. We are almost finished with Advent! Just a couple more days. Remember that the celebration of Christmas begins on Christmas and continues until the Baptism of our Lord.”
Day Twenty-Two – Wednesday – December 22 – For the Jesse Tree: St Joseph
“St Joseph played an extremely important part in not just the Christmas story, but also the life of Christ…We tend to project modern times with our (unfortunate) norms of engagement and marriage onto this story…”
Day Twenty-Three – Thursday – December 23 – Feast Days of the Christmas Season, and for the Jesse Tree: Angels:
Here are the feast days of the Christmas season:
* Octave of Christmas: Dec 25 – Jan 1 –every day is celebrated as a Solemnity! It’s all just like Christmas Day!
* Dec 26: Feast of the Holy Family.
* Dec 27: Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.
* Dec 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs.
* Jan 1: Octave of Christmas – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Holy Day of Obligation).
* Jan 2: Epiphany celebrated in the United States (Epiphany traditionally is Jan 6, after the 12 Days of Christmas).
* Jan 3: Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
* Jan 9: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (end of the Christmas season).
Day Twenty-Four – December 24 (Christmas Eve) – The Nativity:
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Also, there are a lot of other catechetical resources at the site, including a daily rosary: you can click the green arrow and participate in the daily rosary with the children.
As we enter into this season of wonder, let us pray our children come to know the deep reason for the gift giving is because of the eternal gift we have in our Lord Jesus.