Advent is on its way! In 2017 it begins on Sunday 3 December (though lots of Advent resources will begin on 1 December as they do every year, regardless of the calendar).
Most of my Advent resources – pretty much everything you could possibly need! – are in this post full of links and ideas.
But a few new things have come my way recently, so I thought I’d let you know about them.
Make and Play Nativity, by Joey Chou
Two Advent essentials, in our house at least, are books telling the Christmas story, and nativity figures to play with and move around. I was astonished last year at how much use our toy nativity set got, from both children.
The Make and Play Nativity combines both! For the last few weeks we’ve treated it just as a book, particularly for my nearly-three-year-old. We go through page by page and identify the different characters and participants. I have yet to convince her that the donkey isn’t the ‘Easter Donkey’ (as in another of her board books) but this book alone has got her into the swing of identifying Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and so on.
But soon we are going to use this book for its intended purpose and pop out these characters! Sturdy cardboard pages will turn into three-dimensional figurines to move around, and it is going to blow her mind!
Thankfully there’s an appropriate range of historically accurate skin colours among the figures, and a gender mix, too, among the supporting cast of shepherd children, as well as the usual people.
The second half of the book gives the Nativity story in more detail, carol lyrics, and craft ideas, so this makes a very good first Advent gift for a small person in your life.
I haven’t got interior pictures yet, but you can see some, along with what the figures look like, all assembled, at Picture Book Blogger.
The Advent Tree: a pop and slot adventure activity
From New Zealand Baptist Children and Family Ministry comes The Advent Tree, a clever A4 resource for families to put together throughout Advent.
The pack comes with a foam tree to pop out, 24 decorations with Bible references on the back, and a map of Jerusalem, with hidden clues.
The idea is to assemble the tree at the start of Advent (well, technically slightly before, beginning 1 December) then each day, pop out one decoration, read the corresponding text from the Bible, and find the matching picture hidden somewhere on the map.
There are extra questions and discussion starters around the frame of the map, too, so there’s plenty of scope for making a meaty study out of each day’s addition.
The normal packs have actually just sold out this year! But make a note for next year – and for Easter – because these folks are making great resources. You can still get the large size if you’re keen for some supersized Advent tree fun.
And if you are near a New Zealand Baptist Church, pop on in and see if they have a spare – 8000 have been sold around the country!
The Christmas Promise, by Alison Mitchell
There are a lot of biblical nativity books out there (I have a whole post on the subject with plenty listed here), but this one feels fresh.
It’s coming from an evangelical perspective, putting the Christmas story into the context of the Big Story of God sending Jesus. Many thanks to SBJ’s Irish godmother for sending it over!
Here’s how the book begins:
A long, long time ago – so long that it’s hard to imagine – God promised a new king.
He wasn’t any ordinary king, like the ones we see on tv or in books. He would be different.
He would be a NEW KING;
a RESCUING KING;
a FOREVER KING!
The book is well designed with high production values, and looks, feels and reads like a trade picture book, not just a specialty Sunday School resource. Catalina Echeverri’s illustrations are vibrant and distinctive, and the story marches along at a good clip, covering all the important parts of the story in a thoughtful way, without lingering on details.
This is a good addition to a Christmas collection for children who know the story well, or a smart introduction to the Nativity for families who are interested in what modern Christians think about the ancient story.