Enjoy this Advent lesson plan, suitable for children in grades 1–3.
The children will be able to
Student Handout A (Jesus Is the Son of God)
Student Handout B (Advent Decoder)
Student Handout C (Prayer Service)
Family Handout (Advent Preparations)
Invite the children to share experiences of waiting. Say: Think of a time when you had to wait for something. Maybe it was for your birthday. Maybe it was for a special trip with your family. How did you feel during these times of waiting? Allow several volunteers to share, then ask: Why was it hard to wait? What did you do while you waited?
Relate the children’s experiences of waiting to the Jewish people waiting for the Savior. Say: Before Jesus was born, the Jewish people had been waiting a long time for God to keep his promise. Do you remember the promise that God made to them? (to send them a Savior) The people believed that God would keep his promise. What do you think they did while they waited? (They got ready for his arrival. They became more and more excited.)
Explain to the children that one of the ways the Israelites prepared for the coming of the Savior was to pray. Say: The Jewish people prayed that God would keep his promise to send the Savior. Through prayers and songs, they asked God to help them. Even when the time felt long and they were growing impatient, they never stopped praying.
Introduce Advent as the time when we pray and wait for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Say: God kept his promise to send a Savior. Can you tell me whom God sent? (his Son, Jesus). Advent is our time of waiting. During Advent, we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Distribute Student Handout A, Jesus Is the Son of God. Invite volunteers to read it aloud. Then ask: What promise did God make? (to send someone to save us from our sins) What kind of Savior did God send? Was he a powerful warrior? (No, God sent a baby, his only Son.) How did Jesus come into this world? (He was born to Mary and raised by Mary and Joseph.) Who announced Jesus’ birth? (angels) When do we celebrate the birth of Jesus? (on Christmas)
Tell the children: Every year, Christians get ready to celebrate Christmas. The word Advent means “coming.” Advent is the four weeks before Christmas when we prepare for Christ’s coming.
Distribute Student Handout B, Advent Decoder. Guide the children in completing the handout.
Then say: During Advent, we pray to Jesus to fill our hearts with his love. It’s a time when we try to pray more and to do good deeds. It isn’t always easy. But we can offer our prayers and good deeds as gifts to God. Invite the children to share times when they might pray more and examples of good deeds they can do.
Now lead the children in prayer, using Student Handout C, Prayer Service.
Print out the Family Handout, Advent Preparations, and have the young people take it home to share with their families.
Enriching the Faith Experience
Plan a visit to your parish church. Point out the Advent wreath and any violet or blue decorations, such as banners.
Make an Advent calendar to mark the days in preparation for Christ’s coming.
Teach the children some traditional Advent songs.