- Print the pictures and the date cards. (Use seven sheets of white cardstock for the pictures and seven sheets of color cardstock for the date cards. You can use Christmas paper for the date cards if desired.) Number the back of the pictures 1 through 25. (For example: Isaiah would be #1, Nephi would be #2, the star and moon would be #3, and so forth.) Cut out the pictures and date cards. (A paper-cutter makes the job go faster.)
- Attach the sign “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” to the top of a poster board or display board and attach the date cards underneath the sign with sticky tack (or purchase a pocket chart and place each date card in a pocket). Walmart has a jewelry pocket holder that would work with this smaller version of the activity.
- For little ones, slip the matching pictures behind its date card in the pocket chart, or attach the scripture’s matching picture to the back of the date card before attaching it to the poster board.
- See here for a list of the scriptures.
Each day, starting on the first day of December, take a date card off the chart (going in numerical order) and read the scripture together as a family. Older children can find the matching picture that goes with the scripture and replace the date card with the picture, or if you have little ones have them turn the card around so the picture is showing and then put the card back in its spot if using a poster board, or, if using a pocket chart, take out the date card to display the picture behind it.
(The pictures and idea came from the Friend December 1985.)
Activity Cards and Inserts
The below activity cards have an activity related to each day’s scripture, and they also have an item related to the scripture that you can put into the pocket chart or into lunch bags. Click on each page, save, print saved file, and cut out the cards. Put the cards in the correct pockets of the chart, or staple one on each of the lunch bags. Read through the activity list below to make sure you have all the supplies needed, then fill the pockets or bag with those items. (The Christmas squares paper is from Freepik.com)
Day 1: Isaiah Card and Mobile: (Print and cut out the two pages of the “Prophets Foretold Jesus Christ’s Birth Mobile.” Follow the remaining preparation instructions on the activity.) The first few days of the advent calendar are about the prophecies of Jesus Christ’s birth, so on each of the first five days, tie a prophet card on the mobile and read the scripture of that prophet’s words. Day one is Isaiah. Explain that a virgin is a pure woman and Immanuel means “God with Us” meaning Jesus’ birth into mortality.
Day 2: Nephi Card and Coloring Page: (Print a copy of the coloring page for each person who will be coloring. Include crayons in the sack or pocket.) Have a child tie the Nephi card onto the mobile and then have family members color in the figures of Nephi and Isaiah on the coloring page. Ask the children what the scripture tells about Jesus’ birth.
Day 3: Samuel the Lamanite Card, Video, and Song: Tie the Samuel the Lamanite card onto the mobile. Color in his picture on the coloring page. Watch the video about Samuel the Lamanite and then sing along with the “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus” Video.
Day 4: Micah Card and Song: Tie the Micah card on the mobile, and color the Micah figure on the coloring page. Explain that this scripture tells of where Jesus would be born. Sing along with a YouTube video of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Day 5: Adam Card and Retell: Tie the Adam card onto the mobile. There is no Adam figure on the coloring page. Explain that other prophets also foretold of Jesus’ birth. Have them color in the last prophet on the page, and then have them retell about the prophets and what each foretold about Jesus’ birth.
Day 6: Video: Watch the video “Chapter One: Elisabeth and Zacharias” from the New Testament Stories DVD or LDS Media Library. I included the DVD in this bag. You could have popcorn in the bag instead of the DVD if you are watching it on LDS Media.
Day 7: Video and Mary and Angel Figures: Place Mary and the Angel on a wall if using the cutouts from LDS Media Library or on a table if using a child friendly nativity set. Watch Mary and the Angel Gabriel (video). (See more Cutouts below.)
Day 8: Video and Joseph Figure: Watch the video “Chapter Four: Joseph and the Angel” from the New Testament Stories DVD or LDS Media Library. Place Joseph on a table (or on a wall if using cutouts from LDS Media Library).
Day 9: Chocolate Coins: Using chocolate coins, discuss what taxes could be used for—roads, schools, etc. Set aside the tax coins and put them in bag or pocket #10 to enjoy tomorrow. (Chocolate coins can be purchased at party stores or in the party supply section at Walmart.)
Day 10: Chocolate Coin Taxes: Distribute and eat the chocolate coin taxes. Optional: Look up an online map of Israel from Jesus’ time period and point out all the cities people may have gone to be taxed.
Day 11: Maze Coloring Page: (Print a maze for each child.) Using a crayon, find the path to Bethlehem through the maze for Mary and Joseph.
Day 12: Stable and Video: Watch half the video “Chapter Five: Jesus Christ is Born” from the New Testament Stories DVD or LDS Media library. Watch to the point where a stable is mentioned (pt. 37) then have a child place the stable on a table—or on the wall if using cutouts from LDS Media–and then put the figures of Mary and Joseph in the stable. (Click on the following image of a stable, save, and then print it the full size of the paper for the cutouts.)
Day 13: Baby Jesus Figure and Song: Put the baby Jesus and manager in the stable (or on the wall) Sing the song “Away in a Manger.” Sing along with a YouTube video or a Children’s Songbook recording.
Day 14: Window Picture: Print the picture of the earth and the picture of Jesus. Attach the front of the picture of Jesus to the back of the picture of the earth, or put both in a single page protector. Have the children hold the picture up to the light of a window or lamp. Explain that Jesus created the earth but was born humbly in a lowly stable.
Day 15: Shepherd Figures: Place the shepherds and sheep figures on the table or wall–but not in the manger.
Day 16: Angel Figure and Song: Place the angel on the table or wall near the shepherds. Watch and sing along with a YouTube video of “Stars were Gleaming.” (Verse One)
Day 17: Candy Canes: Place the shepherds and sheep in the stable. Candy Canes: Explain that shepherds carried hooked staffs in order to get sheep who had wandered off or needed help. Candy canes remind us of caring shepherds and of Jesus who is the Good Shepherd. Watch the second half of the video “Jesus Christ is Born.” (From pt. 47 to the end)(Children’s Songbook)
Day 18 Map and Wisemen Sticker: (Print the below map and the Wisemen sticker page. Put the map in a page protector if planning to use it again. Cut out the Wisemen and make them into stickers or put tape of the back of them. Put one of the stickers in this bag.) Show the map to the children and explain that it is a map of the land of Israel where Jesus was born. Have a child decide where the East is on the map and then stick the Wisemen sticker onto that part of the map. (The map is from the LDS Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students Unit 7)
Day 19: Wisemen Sticker and Marker: Have a child put the Wisemen sticker on the first place the Wisemen went looking for baby Jesus. Draw a dotted line between the two stickers with a marker or dry erase marker. Look at this painting of Jerusalem by James Tisset and discuss reasons the Wisemen thought the King of the Jews might be in Jerusalem.
Day 20: Scroll Activity: (Cut a a piece of paper in half lengthwise. Cut each piece in half again lengthwise. Cut all the pieces in half widthwise. You should end up with 8 pieces of paper 5.5 inches by 2.25 inches. Write in the middle of one of the papers the word “Bethlehem.” Roll the papers into small scrolls–one per family member–and tie them with string or jute.) Explain that Herod’s chief priests and scribes would have read the prophecies of Jesus’ birth on records made on scrolls. Have each family member choose a scroll from the bag or pocket. The person who finds the word “Bethlehem” will read it during the next day’s activity and place the next sticker. You may want to mention that when King Herod heard of the birth of a new king of the Jews,” he became alarmed because it threatened his rule as king.
Day 21: Wisemen Sticker: Have the family member read the scroll and then draw a dotted line from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and put the Wisemen sticker near Bethlehem.
Day 22: Star Activity: Decorate star cookies or decorate a star craft item such as these popsicle sticks stars or the below string threading activity, then hang the decorated star or star cutout over the manager scene.
Day 23: Wisemen Figures: Put the Wisemen figures in the nativity scene (or on the wall if using the cutouts from LDS Media Library).
Day 24: Retell the Story of Jesus’ Birth: If needed, review the story of Jesus’ birth by reading a storybook or watching “The Nativity” video. Then, using the Nativity figures or cutouts, have family members retell or act out the story of Jesus’ birth. Optional: Give a candy kiss or hug after each person’s response and input.
Day 25: Picture of Jesus and Song: Print an image of Jesus as an adult. See LDS Media Library or use the cutout. Show the picture and post it near the nativity. Optional: Sing along with a YouTube video of “Joy to the World.”