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"Preparing for the Messiah"


Patricia Griggs published a wonderful book, "Preparing for the Messiah" which was in its 4th printing in 1984. (Amazon says it's still available, but hard to find.)

She recommends that you cut a Christmas tree shape from 12x18 construction paper. Then you cut create ornament shapes designed to "fold over." For example, you might have a star by folding a 2x4 inch square of construction paper in half so it's 2x2. Then cut your star but leave one point attached so you can open it into 2 stars, like a shaped greeting card.

Use a copier to make multiples of the number you need on different colors of paper.

Your students cut out the ornaments, glue one side to the tree. Number the front of the ornament 1-24. Inside they can print either scripture verses or a series of loving, kind things to do during Advent.

(You could simplify this by printing the words on the ornaments before you copy the shapes onto the construction paper or printing them on mailing labels so the students could stick the labels on the inside of the ornament.)

Finally you seal the ornaments shut with the small, round self-stick labels available at office supply stores. Voila, your own Advent calendar ready to be opened on the appropriate days.

This project is somewhat labor intensive and will require some experimentation to get the ornaments the proper size to fit on the tree, but it's particularly rewarding when the students have participated in creating the list of things to do during Advent.

I highly recommend this book for additional Advent activities as well.


Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

"Prayer Chain"


We have used a "prayer chain" advent "calendar" idea in the past. Cut strips of 25 green and red colored paper with a Christmas thought or part of the Christmas story on them.
Link them together & glue each one into a chain. Every day the children remove one of the links and get a part of the Christmas story or an idea of how to celebrate the real meaning of the holiday, etc... until Christmas Day.

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

Felt Banner


We have used a 12 x 8 piece of purple felt for the banner - then five felt candles are passed out each week of Advent (four lighter purple ones for each Sunday and one white for Christmas Eve) with a brief explanation of each candle (hope, prepare, joy, love, peace or shepherd, angel, Bethlehem, Magi.

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

Some of the Advent devotions that I shared here would work as an Advent Calendar, particularly the 24 day ones based on the Jesus Storybook Bible. 


Also, Illustrated Children Ministry's Illustrated Advent for Families might be a good choice. Daily devotion for families for all of Advent. Includes activities, coloring sheets, daily Advent calendar, cut out crèche scene.  https://store.illustratedminis...esources/Devotionals.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Here's a different kind of Advent Calendar called an "Advent Do" Calendar 

that can be used as an pre-Advent craft, classroom project, or Advent children's sermon series.

Instead of a calendar of tiny verses, little pictures, or small gifts, create a "Four Sundays of Advent" calendar craft that a family or individual can use at home (or it could be used in the classroom each Sunday of Advent, or in a children's sermon).

Behind the four doors on the calendar are "things to do for someone" that week, a "reminder" object participants can remove from the calendar and carry around, and a short verse with prayer line connected to the object and "to do."  Being able to remove and carry the reminders is an important idea.

Creating the four door "Advent Do" Calendar

Cut "four doors" in a piece of posterboard to be your "Four Sundays of Advent" calendar.  Decorate the doors with the dates of the four Sundays, and images related to the scripture inside. (Use clipart if needed to accelerate this design step.)  

Take a piece of cloth and use a desktop stapler to staple together a "pouch," then use the stapler again to attach it to the BACK of each door's opening. The pouch will hold slips of paper and the objects.

Inside each pouch: 

1. A short line of scripture related to that Sunday of Advent (Isaiah, Mary's Song of Joy, etc)

2. An idea for a "true gift" you can give someone this week. Gift of help, gift of forgiveness, gift of hospitality, gift of friendship, gift of comfort, gift of time. These gifts can be related to the scripture, for example, you could connect the gift of comfort to a scripture about Mary and Joseph's journey. A gift of eraser-forgiveness for Isaiah's promise of a Messiah.

3. An object that represents the gift which the participants can take out of the pouch and carry with them to remind them to "do" the gift.

Some object ideas:

  • Isaiah Eraser: to erase a wrong-doing/forgive.
  • Mary's Song pencil and small note card: to write a message of appreciation and promise to someone in your family.
  • Shepherd's dollar coins:  to remind you to collect other coins and give to an Advent offering.

The objects are not "toys," they are "remember-to-do" objects. The dollar store is a great source for small inexpensive things, as it Oriental Trading for things in bulk.

Based on an "Advent-Do" children's sermon by Neil MacQueen.


Hi Neil, 

Do you have any photos or scripture that was used?  I have been tasked with finding a new way of doing the Lighting of the Advent candles and want to involve the kids, so this sounds like a neat way.


Vaness G posted:

Hi Neil, 

Do you have any photos or scripture that was used?  I have been tasked with finding a new way of doing the Lighting of the Advent candles and want to involve the kids, so this sounds like a neat way.


Hi Vaness,

It was based on the "Lighting of the Advent Candle" scriptures that we had various members read each week. Those scriptures changed from year to year. I googled "advent candle scriptures" and came up with many sites that list what scriptures they used. I would suggest selecting the Advent scriptures to match the objects and object lesson you want the families to hear.

As mentioned, this "four doors" project is based on a children's sermon I did in the early 90's!.

I had an older man in our church make me a wooden board with four hinged doors on it. Each door had a wooden box behind it for the treasure or message I put in there. One year the doors were numbered for the Sundays in Advent. The next year, I put a picture on them, and had the kids "guess" which door we were opening that week. (The year Edward passed away, we put his doors on display with four photo from his family behind the doors)

One year, for example, behind one of the doors we had a "donkey kit" for each child to quickly make. As I demonstrated/led making the donkey with the kids, I talked to them about "making time to walk and talk with a friend or family member about something Christmas they'd like to celebrate differently to make it more meaningful. (i.e. Don't be in a hurry this Advent. Mary and Joseph had plenty of time to share on their travels. Plan a "walk with a talk" with a family member or friends.)  The donkey kit was two clothespins clipped to a pre-cut cardboard body of a donkey and yarn wrapped around it's middle to form a saddle. You hung it as an ornament after you di your "walk and talk" with it.)

No photos, sorry to say. Pre-ubiquitous-cellphone era!

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Thanks Neil.  I found a site that talks about the meaning of the candles (hope, joy, peace, love) and some scripture to go with it.  I am going to have four large gifts labelled with each of the words.  My plan is to have an object in each that will remind them of the word.  So for Hope, I will put little flashlights or candles to remind them that Jesus is the Light of the world who gives us great hope and ask the kids how they can share that with others.  I am needing some more ideas for joy, peace, love........

Anyone who has ideas, please pass them along.  



Vaness, are you looking for one object that represents joy, one for peace, one for love?  Or will the children EACH receive an object for each word to take with them?

Oriental Trading Co online is a great source of “inexpensive little giveaways” including mini flashlights. Good source of “object lesson inspiration” too. 

One year we bought bulk manger figures and individually wrapped and gave out a piece each week. Parents = love, peaceful animals, angels and shepherds = joy, etc.  

 (Note: renamed and moved by moderator to consolidate topic)

Advent Chain/Calendar

Art Workshop

Students will learn that names had significant meaning in biblical times. Specifically, they will explore some of the names given for Jesus and use them to make an Advent chain. They will discover that Jesus came to break the chains of slavery to sin and to bring new life as reflected in some of the names used for him. (Moderator: have inserted the Advent Calendar adaptation, by member SStphnsn, at end of this lesson).

Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7a
Key/Memory Verse: Isaiah 9:6b

Materials List

  • Bibles
  • Book of names
  • Copier paper, 8 1/2" x 11", bright colors
  • Copier
  • Glue
  • "Names of Jesus" list
  • Paper cutter/Scissors
  • Stapler and staples
  • Transparent Tape

Advance Preparation Requirements

  • Copy one set of the "Names for Jesus" list on different sheets of brightly colored paper for each participant.
  • Cut the strips apart for the younger children.



Open - Introduction

Ask the kids to share what their names mean or perhaps what they know about them and why they were given their names. You might have a book of names and their meanings available for those who don't know about their names. Tell them that in Bible times a name had significant meaning, and sometimes a new name was given to indicate a change of character or a major event in one's life. As an example, look up the story of Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 17:1-8, in the Hebrew Scriptures, and the calling of Peter recorded in John 1:35-42 of the New Testament.

Dig - Main Content

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, one can find more than 100 names and titles for Jesus Christ. No other person in history has had so many names and titles. Why do you think this is? Isaiah was a prophet and told about the coming of Jesus. He gave clues to who Jesus was with the names he used for him in Isaiah 9:6. These include: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Today we will make an Advent chain using some of the names for Jesus. Each day during Advent, remove one of the links of the chain and do the suggested activity to learn the meaning behind some of these names.

Have pre-printed sets of the "Names of Jesus" prepared for each child so all they have to do is cut them apart and staple, or glue or tape, them into a paper chain ready to hang on their Christmas tree or wherever they might choose to put it.

Day 1: Alpha and Omega - Revelation 22:13
These words were spoken by Jesus about Himself. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They symbolize that Jesus is the beginning and ending. Practice making the Greek letters Alpha and Omega.

Day 2: Wonderful Counselor - Isaiah 9:6
What is a Counselor? Can you think of a time when you received wise -- or foolish -- counsel? What happened?

Day 3: The Mighty God - Isaiah 9:6
Look up "mighty." What does it mean, and how does it pertain to Jesus? Find pictures that show examples of "mighty" such as Redwood Trees, mountains, the bright sun, and so forth.

Day 4: The Everlasting Father - Isaiah 9:6
How does this name apply to Christ? What was before the world? What is eternity?
Make an evergreen wreath. The wreath is circular having no beginning and no end. Evergreens symbolize eternal life.

Day 5: The Prince of Peace - Isaiah 9:6
What are some symbols of peace? Draw pictures of them. Commit to sharing the gospel of peace with someone this week.

Day 6: The Firstborn of Every Creature - Colossians 1:15
Why is it important to see Christ as the first-born? What are the privileges of a first-born? What is your birth order in your family?

Day 7: Unspeakable Gift - 2 Corinthians 9:15
Look up the word "unspeakable" in different translations of the Bible. Think of a really special gift you have received. Describe how you felt.

Day 8: Lamb of God - John 1:29
Who made this statement? What is a prophecy? What was a sacrificial lamb? Make lambs out of cotton and cardboard. Set them out to remind yourself of the Lamb of God.

Day 9: Good Shepherd - John 10:11
Begin to set up a nativity scene. Put in Mary, Joseph, shepherds and lambs. Learn the song "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night."

Day 10: Star - Numbers 24:17 and Bright and Morning Star - Revelation 22:16
Make star cookies. What important star do we talk about at Christmas? Jesus is even brighter than that star.

Day 11: The Christ/Annointed One/Messiah - Mark 8:29
What does it mean to be "anointed"? What are some examples of "anointing" in the Bible? Read the prophecies of Daniel, especially Chapter 9.

Day 12: Immanuel - Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel means God With Us. What do you think that means? How do we know God is with us? Draw or paint a picture of God With Us.

Day 13: Holy One - Mark 1:24
Read Mark 1:21-28 to better understand this name. Who is naming Jesus the "Holy One" in this verse? What does it mean to be holy? Can we be holy? Look up the hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy" or "O, Holy Night" and read or sing the words.

Day 14: Light of the World - John 8:12
Memorize this verse. It's a short one! Take some Wintergreen lifesavers into a dark closet and bite them with your mouth open. What happens? Light a candle at the dinner table during Advent as a reminder that Jesus is the Light of the World.

Day 15: Dayspring - Luke 1:78
Read Luke 1:67-80 for Zechariah's prophecy. Look for all the other names for Jesus in this passage. What does "dayspring" mean? How could we translate it today?

Day 16: The Word - Revelation 19:13 and John 1:1
Make a collage using words that have Christmas as a theme. How is God's Word both written and spoken? How is Jesus, "The Word"?

Day 17: Servant - Matthew 12:18
What is a servant? Can you think of examples of Jesus being a servant? How can we be a servant?

Day 18: King - Zechariah 9:9
Who is the King in this story? Is this prophecy? How can Jesus be both servant and king?
Make crowns using cardboard and old buttons, glitter, yarn, or any scraps around the house.

Day 19: Rose of Sharon - Song of Solomon 2:1
What does a Rose of Sharon look like? It was probably a common, abundant plant like a crocus or narcissus. It has a delicate beauty and gentle fragrance. It speaks to us of the beauty and fragrance Jesus brings to those who know and love him.

Day 20: Lily of the Valley
What was/is Lily of the Valley? Some think it was a white amaryllis. Discuss the color "white." What does it symbolize?

Day 21: Friend - Matthew 11:19
Think of a good friend. Why is he/she your friend? What qualities does he/she have that makes him/her a good friend. Make and send a Christmas card to a friend.

Day 22: Savior - John 4:42
Why is Jesus our Savior? Why do we need a savior? Make an Easter (yes, Easter) banner showing the Cross.

Day 23: Shiloh - Genesis 49:10
Read and discuss this passage. It is part of the prophecy/blessing of Jacob to his son, Judah. What does Shiloh mean? Shiloh means to rest. Read Matthew 11:28. Why is this a good name for Jesus?

Day 24: I Am - John 8:58
Where else in the Bible have we heard someone say "I Am?" Look up the story of Moses and the Burning Bush in Exodus 3:14,15. Put the baby Jesus in the nativity scene.

Reflect - Closure

As we reflect on the many names for Jesus, may we grow in our understanding of who Jesus is.
Use one of the following prayers in closing:

O Jesus Christ,
Emmanuel, come and dwell with us.
Desire of all nations;
Gift to every generation,
Come, make your home with us.

All nations, everybody,
Are waiting for you,
Indians and Eskimos
Are waiting for you,
People in New York are waiting for you.
People in Beijing
Are waiting for you.
Jesus, come to us. Amen.

O Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace
Come and save your people.
Joy of every heart,
Strength of those who are
Come quickly to help us.

Prince of Peace,
teach the lion and the little lamb
teach the cat and the mouse
teach the hawk and the tiny bird
teach everyone who doesn't get along
to live in peace.

Written by Cindy Merten, 2002




We modified this session by giving each child a sheet of white card stock with the title in an attractive font: "Children's Advent Calendar."

The sheet was in landscape orientation. There was a large white area below the title, then near the bottom, "Thoughts about the Names of Jesus". In the large white area, we let each child decorate her Advent calendar with a colored pencil drawing of the Nativity.

We reminded them that this would be on display in their homes throughout the month, and encouraged their very best efforts.

When they completed the drawing, they made the paper chain as suggested, with this modification: the chain was made in 5 shorter chains, which were attached across the bottom of the card stock. We had marked 5 areas where they should be attached: Days 1-5, 6-10, etc.

The one thing I wish we had done differently would be omitting the day numbers on the slips for the chains. Keeping them in order was a challenge, and the order really doesn't matter!

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