Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seeking Our Savior

Yesterday, I posted the activities we had at our 2011 Family Advent Night.  Our 2012 Advent Night is coming up next Friday, so I am putting the final touches on the plan.  We will start the night with a Children's Mass for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (our parish feast day), and then all of the kids and their parents come over to our parish hall for activities, snacks, and fellowship.

We are talking about 45ish kids ranging in age from preschool to 8th grade, so it is always interesting  to plan something that hits them all.  I am a big fan of multi-age activities, though, because there is such a great opportunity for the bigs to teach the littles and the little to learn from the bigs, even without them knowing it is happening.

The theme for this evening is "Seeking Our Savior."  If you read earlier, the CCD theme this year is "My Soul Magnifies the Lord," so I am playing off of the magnifying glass idea.  The concept is that the kids are looking for clues during Advent, leading them up to the real meaning of the season, which is to prepare our hearts for Jesus, not to celebrate Christmas starting the day after Thanksgiving.  We are doing the whole night complete with lots of little hands-on activities, but this could also be adapted to be a take home activity by just using the coloring book, or to a more classroom-friendly activity by using the coloring book as a group and looking up all of the scripture references. 

All of the paper items are free printables- you just have to click on each document to go to the link.
All of the crafts are intentionally simple and mostly very inexpensive.  I have included basic directions for each station.

Here is the mini coloring book with each of the "clues" leading up to the reason for Advent.  It includes at least one Scripture reference for each clue, a question to think about, some Old Testament Prophecy connections, and a place to record their "detective" work.

 Click here for the link to the coloring book:
Our kids are going to do an activity for each clue, so they will actually get the coloring book at the end.  Here is the bag that they will get at the beginning of the night to collect their evidence.  (And to ensure that I won't be picking up unlabeled crafts from all over the room when the evening is over.)

Here is a link to the printable Clue Collection bag label:
For each of the activities, the table will be labeled with a large sign identifying the "clue."  When the kids need to find where to go, this will be their guide.
Here are the printable signs for all ten clues, meant to be printed on cardstock and used like table tents:
Depending on the age of the kids and your plan for the flow of the event, you can use these clue cards to get the kids hunting.  There are two cards for each clue, one with a question, and one with a verse, both that match the coloring book.  You could use just the questions or just the verse or all of them.  You could have a set for each kid that they collect one by one as they move from station to station, or you could have one that the leader reads to them when they finish one station to tell them where to go for the next...there are lots of possibilities.
I plan to have the cards at the right stations with Bibles open to the right verses so that the kids get some context on their clue quest.  This would also be a way to adapt it for a larger classroom independent station activity.
Here are the printable clue cards:
Onto the activities.  None of them are super awesomely exciting, but I needed quick cheap things that gave the kids just a bit of hands-on-ness to drive home the clue before they moved on.  There will be a Catechist at each table explaining and doing a bit of teaching-whatever works for the audience.  For most of our kids, they will spend less than 5 minutes at a station.  Obviously our 4-6 year olds will need a little more help, which is the beauty of inviting the parents.  They tend to go around with the little ones and help where needed.  The parents of kids who are too cool to hang with mom and dad help by serving refreshments or spending some time in fellowship.  It works well.

A Family Tree: Isaiah 11:1 & Matthew 1:1-16
Have the kids trace their hand and arm on brown construction paper.  Write their family name on the trunk and family members on the branches/fingers.  Connect to Jesus' family tree and that the prophets told us what family the Messiah would come from.
A Crown for the King of Heaven and Earth: Luke 19:38 & Isaiah 9:6-7
***(Keep in mind that not all of these activities are safe for all kids.  I am using several choking hazards, but our preschoolers are at least 4, and we have lots of adult supervision.  Keep that in mind if you adapt this to use with your group.)
Because of our format, I went easy on this one.  Pre-cut out crowns, markers to decorate, and sticky jewels -which will be strictly rationed by the adult manning the table :).  If you have more time, go for glitter or gluing on jewels because it is a lot cheaper.  Our format doesn't really allow for wet glue, so we are going with the stick-on ones.

The Work of St. Joseph: Matthew 1:19
Cue the cool thing for this station-
We had cross sections of wood cut like this:
And the kids wrote "St. Joseph, pray for us" on them.

The Love of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Luke 2:19 & Isaiah 7:13-14
Mary pondered all things in her heart- so we are going to make a heart to remember her and her love.
The kids will cut out a heart of fun foam,
 And punch two holes in it,
And tie a blue cord through it- the little ones might need explanation of the symbol of tying a cord around your finger to remember something- the cord represents that Mary remembered everything that Jesus taught and showed her through His life.

A Little Town Called Bethlehem:  John 7:42 & Luke 2:1-7 & Micah 5:2-5
Printable of a big B with Bethlehem landscape inside.  All the kids can use a coloring break at this point.

 Here is the Bethlehem printable:

A Humble Manger: Luke 2:6-7 & John 6
I am making these simple mangers ahead of time because it involves hot glue.  These are mini popsicle sticks, but you could do the same thing with big ones.

Glue together two slightly squished x's.
 Then glue three or four horizontal pieces for the sides.  viola.
 That night the kids will add a heart stamp or sticker or marker drawn heart of some kind- I haven't decided yet.  The heart shows that Love became incarnate and rested in a manger, a feeding place, which is a great connection to the Eucharist.

A Bright New Star: Matthew 1:1-2

Thank you, last year's mega after Christmas sales.  The bright new star is just an ornament.
 You could also get some glitter involved if you are brave...

The Sound of Angel Wings: Luke:2:13-14 
The kids will collect a feather and a bell at this station, representing that angels are swift messengers from heaven (feather) and that they sang in the skies over Bethlehem (bell). 

The Visit of the Shepherds: Luke 2:!5
Brown and white pipe cleaners twisted together.  Pretty simple.

The Gift of the Wise Men: Matthew 2:10-11 & Psalm 72:10-11
On-sale small boxes, decorated with markers and stickers and tied up with a bow.  (I am sure the kids will be much more creative than me.)  Inside the box, the kids will write on small slips of paper the gift that they want to give Jesus.  This is a great time to remind them that Jesus really wants our whole hearts, not gold, frankincense and myrrh.

And we wrap up with a bag stuffed with clues and a coloring book to bring it all together.  The last page of the coloring book has some thinking questions for the kids about what they can learn about our Savior from the clues they have collected, as well as what Advent really means.
 I think that our kids are in for a fun evening! I will post after the event with some pictures and an update of how it all goes :)

***After a couple of requests, and while getting ready to run this with ten or so volunteers, I made a Discussion Guide with directions/questions/answers/etc.  Click here for a copy.


  1. This is so awesome!!! I just came across your site from Pinterest and I just can't stop reading your ideas!! Thank you so much for sharing. I can definitely see us using some of them in our program.

    1. Thanks, Jill! I am always glad to share, and I'm so happy you are finding things to use!

  2. Thank you so much! BIG CCD Sunday this week with 2nd Sunday in Advent and Immaculate Conception of Mary! We are making Mary dioramas and quick facts lap-books, and using this info-rich Advent activity. I will run out of time before I run out of info to share. I think the kids will really have fun learning with these activities.

  3. I did this activity with 2nd and 4th graders in my RE class. These children are prayer partners this year. It made sense to me that the fourth graders could read the Scripture passages better than the 2nd graders and could help them with the activities. I was a bit worried at first. The total project was a COMPLETE SUCCESS. The children had a really good time doing it and even those students whose attention I have trouble keeping did an amazing job. They needed very little direction and worked at their own pace to complete the activities in a 45 minute class.Thank you so much for your efforts.This will certainly be a part of my Advent classes in the future.

  4. Kourtney@divinesavior.comNovember 9, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    Would love to incorporate this activity for our CFF Intergenerational event in December, but the links aren't loading. Please help, this is so wonderful I want to share it!!!

    1. Hi Kourtney! I am so sorry you are having trouble. Everything is correctly linked and shared, but the whole system I have them stored on (Google Drive) is working super slow this afternoon. Nothing is loading correctly from the blog. I will send you the pdfs at the email in your profile. If you don't receive them, please let me know. Sorry for the trouble!

  5. So impressed! I am going to try this with my Catholic Moms' group here in Rochester. Thank you!

  6. Doing this at our Family Advent Retreat next weekend. I had been searching and trying to think of an activity that was prayerful, interactive, tangible, and catechetical. This is perfect. Thank you so much for sharing your creative gifts with us!

    1. Darcy, I am so glad that this fulfilled what you were looking for! That is awesome!

  7. Hi! A friend sent this to me as an idea for an Advent retreat that we're doing this week for K-1, and it's PERFECT! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful ideas!!

    1. Yay, Anne! That is great! I am so glad it will work for the kiddos!

  8. Hi Katie! Such an awesome activity -thank you for sharing!

  9. Hi Katie Anne,

    I really like your ideas here! I'd love to adapt them to our church-wide Live Nativity event for our children's area. I'm thinking the families can make the various activities and then have a kit which they can use on Christmas morning (when we have no services this year) as a family church-at-home activity. Are they still available? When I try to download anything, it just sends me to Google sign=in. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Anne! Yes, all of the resources are still available. I just checked and the links all work and the files are still there. Depending on the browser you are using, it might be prompting you to create a Google Account because the files are stored in google drive. Maybe try opening from the Chrome browser if you have it and see if that helps. If not, send me an email at looktohimandberadiant (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll just send the pdfs directly to you.

  10. This is a wonderful activity! I'm hoping to adapt it to use as our Christmas curriculum over a 3 week span. Do you have an editable format?

    1. Hi Amy! That's a great idea to spread it out over a period of time! Send me an email at looktohimandberadiant (at) gmail (dot) com and I can send you a version you can edit.

  11. I am very excited about your great activity! You have given me great ideas! I am going to use this as a connector for our 4 week Christmas Curriculum. I am going to call it Adventures in Advent!

  12. Katie,
    I love your creativity with this activity. However, we could not figure out what the three dots represented? Would you kindly explain what they mean in relation to the activity. We had several people look at it and they all came up with a different explanation which doesn't say much for us as a group:) We appreciate your assistance. God Bless!

    1. Hi Heather! I actually think that it is awesome that everyone in the group had a different idea about what the symbols could mean! I originally added the three dots in the shape of a triangle to symbolize the role of the Trinity in the lives of each of the people featured in this activity. They all point to the coming of Jesus, know the Father, and are led by the Holy Spirit. It was just another way to add a layer of meaning to discussions. I'd be interested to hear what else your group came up with!

  13. This is fantastic! Definitely going to use it next year!!

  14. What a blessing you are! This is positively lovely! Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world!

  15. I love everything on your site, and this was a life saver for an Advent themed co-op class that included non-readers, emergent readers and fluent readers. I posted the bible verses on the wall and tabbed them in the Bible so the children could practice reading skills as well. They had a blast and did not want to leave. Thank you so very much!

    1. How great that you made it work for everyone! Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!