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Advent Workshops/Lessons that incorporate a Christmas Program Prep & Practice

Kicking off the topic...

Teacher sighs, "I would rather teach the Christmas Story in depth, than spend every Sunday during Advent practicing for a Christmas Pageant."

Member "Mother Mary" asked this question, which others have also asked over the years: How do you coordinate Sunday School with "Christmas program practice"? How do you schedule the rehearsal(s) and still teach?

We have had to weave Christmas program practices into our Sunday morning workshop rotations to get maximum participation --as parents say they don't like to make extra trips to church. But the coordination of what's happening in individual workshops each Sunday related to the coming drama can be really confusing to us and our teachers.

Here are some answers to "Mother Mary's" question (and some of those replies are still below in other posts). Here's a summary of some of the responses. Hope you find your answer here.

  • We use Sunday School class-time to learn the story, and one "all kids" class-time to rehearse with everyone. In our church, that "one rehearsal time" is the hour before the worship service in which the performance of the story will take place.

  • In our Rotation Sunday School, we plan a "Great Big Drama Workshop" that everyone attends in lieu of individual classes/workshops so that everyone can rehearse together.  We use the preceding weeks of individual workshops to do the teaching, and divvy up the parts before we get to the rehearsal.

  • We ARE trying something new this year! We are actually teaching and learning the Christmas story this year instead of pageant practice during the Sunday School hour. Hooray for rotation! The level of Christmas story mis-information even among people who come to church every week is truly astounding.  Lisa Martin

  • Your answer here: ________________________________________   (click reply below!)

Not what you are looking for, try these other topics on Christmas Programs:

  • Advent, Christmas: Programs / Scripts / Sketches ~ link.
  • Advent, Christmas: Programs - KEEPING IT SIMPLE! No dress re-rehearsals required! ~ link.
  • Advent/Christmas FEAST Events (begin or end with a meal); generally Intergenerational ~ link.
  • And here's the link back to the Christmas Program Forum full of other interesting and different ideas.
Last edited by Luanne Payne
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Check out our Writing Team's Advent Rotation Lesson Sets

Those using the Rotation Model often focus in on one aspect of the Christmas Story each year, examples: Isaiah Promised, Mary Accepts, Shepherds & Angels, Jesus is Born, and the Magi. Each year's pageant revolves around that year's focus, this allows you to delve deeper into each story and the life applications the students can discovery, bringing more meaning to them as they participate in that year's Christmas Program.

Supporting Members can check out these Drama Workshops on this site, that could be performed. Note: All members can view the Lesson Set Summaries and Bible Backgrounds.

  • The Writing Team's Drama Workshop in "Isaiah Promised, Jesus Fulfilled" has a "Parade of OT Heroes and Zeroes" humorous script about the need for the Messiah. A note says it could easily be adapted for a play. Full Lesson Set here.

  • The WT's Mary Magnifies Drama Workshop also has something easily adapted: "Mary's Lost Opera" with several inventive songs set to familiar tunes. Full Lesson Set here.

  • The WT's Jesus is Born! Drama Workshop has a "newsroom script" which could also be performed. Full Lesson Set here.

Become a Supporting Member today!

4 Lesson Plans that Teach-and-Rehearse a traditional "lessons and carols" Christmas Eve service

It includes a “script” for the service itself. Based on a traditional "lessons and carols" style of Christmas Eve service, the readings and parts are highly adaptable. You could turn this into an intergenerational evening of lessons and rehearsal in preparation for conducting a Christmas Eve service.

Thanks to Anne Camp who originally posting this!

Included in the attached files are:

  • Step By Step (Directions)
  • Material List
  • Week 1 Lesson
  • Week 2 Lesson
  • Week 3 Lesson
  • Week 4 Lesson
  • Additional ideas
  • Christmas Eve Script

Easy Print - Download (click either blue link)


Last edited by Luanne Payne

12 Days of Christmas Rotation ~ Christmas Program
Trinity Lutheran Church
Findlay, Ohio
Written by Pastor Linda Rahe (2002)
Adapted for Rotation/edited per Cathy M. Weygandt (Spring 2005)

This program was initially created to be produced live, during Worship. It has been modified to be produced in a 5-week Rotation then presented to the Church’s Congregation on the 5th week during Worship time.
Computers (Cyber Bible), Drama (Disciple Playhouse), Art (Creation Station), and Cooking (Daily Bread Café) will be utilized during the 5 weeks of Rotation.  (See end of this post for rotation details.

Moderator's Note: Easy Print Found Here (choose & click blue link)

  • Script in a PDF or Word docx.
  • Rotation Schedule in a PDF or Word docx, we also included a CHART version we created, for ease of planning.

Worship Program: The 12 Days of Christmas

Entrance song: Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful LBW 45

Cherub Choir: sings a Christmas song (not necessary)

L. The Lord be with you.
C: And also with you.
L: Let us pray
Almighty God, you have filled us with the new light of the Word
who became flesh and lived among us,
Let the light of our faith shine in all we do;
through you Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen

Opening welcome by Pastor- Worship Program: The 12 Days of Christmas

First Song: The 12 Days Of Christmas plays per recording as Mother, Father, and Child #2 enter and sit in chairs in front nativity scene on the alter. [Have microphones set up closely, children may use scripts to read from.]

Child #1: [walks over to family]
Hi Mr. & Mrs. England and Hi Ellen.

Family: Hi Marcus

Child #1: Wow, I just heard your news. I hear Christmas is going to last for 12 days at your house this year

Child #2: Yes, and every day I’ll get more presents. I can hardly wait. Today’s the first day so I wonder what my gift will be today.

Image on Screen (or projected on the wall behind the alter): The Apostle’s Creed.

[Have the 12 points in bold print as seen below. During Week 1 of Rotation, the children could produce this in Cyber Bible.]

. . . . . . See above printable "Script" for rest of this preview.

5-week Rotation details

Week 1: The cast of the family and Child will be determined. These children could work on the script, rehearsing (not memorizing) during times of the next 5 weeks. They could meet with an adult/Teacher in the Miracle Matinee to practice for awhile and then participate in the other activities also:

  • There will be an Opening in Luther Hall as usual.
  • The Christmas lesson will be shared during the activity times in the different workshop areas.
  • The children would be divided up where their talents would be utilized the best, not necessarily by age this time.

ART (Creation Station)

Week 1: 10 Commandment scrolls
Week 2: Fruits of Spirit; Gifts of the Holy Spirit; Days of Creation
Week 3: Faith, Hope, Love
Week 4: Assist with Nativity scene in Disciple Playhouse

COMPUTERS (Cyber Bible)

Week 1: Produce Apostles Creed
Week 2: Beatitudes
Week 3: Six Geese a-laying & 7 Swans a-swimming
Week 4: Design Cover of Worship folder/Bulletin; Four Calling Birds; 4 Gospels

DRAMA (Disciple Playhouse) - take digital pics of all kids participating

Week 1: Epiphany Scene pictures
Week 2: 12 Apostles Scene pictures
Week 3: Fruit of the Spirit, Gifts of Holy Spirit, Creation (*pictures taken of children holding up the signs they made)
Week 4: Nativity re-created video; Faith, Hope & Love *

. . . . . . See above printable "Rotation Schedule" for rest of this preview.

Below, members comments
moved here to consolidate topic.


Last edited by Luanne Payne

Isaiah's Light in the Darkness

Use "light writing" techniques in your advent lessons that are in fact a rehearsal for a Christmas Eve Presentation

We chose to do our Advent rotation on Isaiah this year, Light in the Darkness, People who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. Our thinking was that most children (our regulars and most visitors) have a pretty clear understanding of the details of Jesus' birth, but not so much about the promise and expectations found in the Old Testament.

We made Isaiah our focus in the lessons, and then practiced in each lesson some "light writing" techniques that were in fact REHEARSAL for a presentation on Christmas Eve.

Why Christmas Eve?  Because the sanctuary will be dark by 6 p.m. and our "light presentation" could be dramatically seen.

LIGHT figured big in our lessons, so as we approached the Christmas Eve children's service, we decided to "WRITE WITH LIGHT" -- illustrating key points in the script/story using LED light ropes and flashlights during the service.

We marched in using flashlights to find our way in the darkness, then we saw a GREAT LIGHT. There was a point in the presentation where we placed the lights underneath our shirts to make a "heart light" begin to shine when the Star of Bethlehem (another light beam) descended on each child.   At the conclusion, we invited people to "shine their cell phones"  (even "make a call to God, text somebody hope, text someone you love them. use your phone's light to make a donation, etc etc. Call God.  Always wanted to do a skit where a child called God on their parent's cellphone.)

This required some rehearsal.

It also required actual flashlights with D size batteries, and not theFlashlight little cheap flashlights that don't have enough brightness to them.  Not very expensive, and we decorated the flashlights with words from the Isaiah verses.

Moderator adds:

Supporting Members: For additional ideas you may want to check out the (WT) Advent: Isaiah Promised, Jesus Fulfilled - Lesson Set, two of it's lessons use light—Art (do a lighted Illustration project) and Games uses flashlight for games and demonstrations. Summary of lesson set can be viewed by all members, but lessons only by Supporting Members.

Members: Check out the public Isaiah Forum Games topic for how they used flashlights that may inspire ideas.


Images (1)
  • Flashlight
Last edited by Luanne Payne

4-Week Rotation Preps for Nativity Drama ~ Idea

In our Rotation Sunday School, we had a four week rotation that prepped for and then culminated in a pageant...

  • We used the Drama workshop to work out the scenes.
  • We used the Music workshop to not only sing through the carols but to also look at the story in the words.
  • We used the Art workshop to work on scenery and props.

[Moderator assumes they may have done a double workshop of one of the above, as they only list 3 of a 4 week rotation. Do whatever works for you.]

After the drama workshop the kids could sign up for whatever parts they wanted in the pageant. I sent out scripts to those children who wanted speaking parts.

The pageant was the fifth week.

We had one rehearsal the day before the pageant, the pageant took place during the following morning's service.

We had two Marys, two Josephs, 1 Elizabeth, cats, dogs, cows, sheep (some of them speaking), 7 magi, 6 shepherds, 2 innkeepers and 20 angels.

As always I was touched by the joy of the children and their retelling of the story. It was chaotic and joy-filled...everything that is wonderful about working with children and doing the pageant.

Last year we had forty children participate in the pageant and we had a great deal of fun. This year we had 60 children in the pageant and it was even more fun!

Last edited by Luanne Payne

'Follow That Star" Advent Rotation Idea
that preps for a Family Christmas Eve Service

During Advent we did a rotation on the birth of Jesus and the Wise Men and called it "Follow That Star." We built our Christmas Eve Service for young families around that theme.

Our mid-highs made beautiful full size puppets out of broom sticks (I think the idea was from "Things to Make and Do in Advent"), and as the nativity story was told by a few youth narrators, the younger children carried the puppets in and posed for the duration.

All the children sang an original song written by our youth director titled "Follow That Star" (learned in the music workshop) and waved glow in the dark stars they had made in the art workshop.

The whole production did not take much rehearsal time and incorporated what the kids had been doing in Sunday School.

Parents seemed to appreciate the simplicity as well as the participation of all the kids.


Moderator confirms: Full size puppets idea is from the book "Things to Make & Do for Advent & Christmas" ~ Creative Activities for Children's Ministry, 1997, Martha Bettis Gee, Bridge Resources, 1997, 9781578950157. Page 67-Giant Broom Puppets.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Incorporating your Advent Workshop Focus into your Christmas Pageant Idea

We used to do large Christmas productions, but have dropped them entirely in favor of a simpler re-enactment of a kid-friendly version of the Christmas story during one of our Advent worship services each December. We use the first two weeks of the Advent rotation to learn and practice the presentation (which is part of their learning process as well).

Since as a Rotation Sunday School we focus on different parts of the Advent story each year, each year's re-enactment in worship has an "additional focus" in addition to covering the basic Christmas story. For example, this year's focus being "Isaiah and the Prophets Promise a Messiah," we have included their story and characters into our basic Christmas story re-enactment both as we teach it in class, and as we re-enact it in worship.

  • We are looking for maximum participation, and even "last minute" participants whose parents didn't bring to rehearsal for whatever reason. No child left behind at Christmas!
  • We have speaking parts, costumed parts, and even a few "singing" parts (singing or leading others in singing a Christmas song or part of a Christmas hymn).
  • We do ask in advance for volunteers who want a speaking part, and those who would like to sing.
  • The kids LOVE it.

Every month we try to have a "presentation" in worship led by the kids about what they've been learning in rotation. We feel it is very important for the children to be seen and heard in worship, AND the message helps focus them on sharing it.

It also helps the congregation to connect with the children, and serves as a great recruiting tool for new volunteer teachers, and recruits more students and better attendance!

Slide show/ Power Point presentation
created in your Drama Workshop

The past several Christmas seasons we have used the workshops to develop a complete program were we took slides or *digital photos of the drama workshops which were used in the final presentation.

The narration was read live by the children in the older classes and all the children sang the songs from the music workshops.

It was a very stress-free, no rehearsal project that involved every child who attended in any of the weeks of Advent.

This came from an idea presented in the Whole People of God curriculum and is adaptable to virtually any program.

*See where another church took this idea and ran with it below calling it a Virtual Christmas Pageant, includes script.

River Church's "Virtual" Christmas Pageant

Posted by Amy Crane

We took Anne Camp's idea (posted above) and ran with it:

First a bit of background. We are a new church development that is currently meeting in a movie theater complex (our church is being built and may be done by Easter this year!). So we have limited time to use our limited space on Sunday mornings, but wanted to have some sort of pageant during a worship service before Christmas.

Easy Print - Download (click either blue link)

Setup: So one Sunday afternoon we invited all interested children to come to the church office (the temporary office is in a farm house, so the outdoor locations were attractive). We put the kids in costumes and arranged them in tableaus to fit the script that follows. Anyone who wanted to be Mary, Gabriel, etc. could. They just wore the "Mary costume" or the "Gabriel costume" in one of the shots.

Costumes: were simple Bible time costumes (tunics), with cotton ball/posterboard ears for the sheep (and black face-paint noses) and extra-large white t-shirts and garland halos for the angel choir.

Involving everyone: In order to involve children that could not make it to the official photo shoot, the next Sunday we took more pictures before Sunday school of individual angels, shepherds and sheep, some of which were made into group shots and some left separate.

PowerPoint: Someone who knows more about digital pictures than I do added backgrounds to the ones taken in the movie theater and made some other adjustments (we used both "traditional" photos that were scanned in and digital pictures).

Performance: On the Sunday of the performance, four youth read the script that follows and the children stood at the front of the theater and sang the Christmas songs that they had been practicing during Sunday School all month while the pictures were projected (PowerPoint or something) on the movie screen behind them.

To see the pictures we used, visit:
sorry -- they took the pictures off the web to keep the site current...
you will need to read the following script and descriptions and imagine the tableau-type scenes.

The script: (with brief descriptions of accompanying pictures in italics -- note that some of my planned shots did not turn out well enough to be shown on a big screen, so there are some sort-of obvious scenes that are "missing" -- like Mary riding the donkey. feel free to add in what you want.)

SCRIPT -- Virtual Christmas Pageant
at River Community Church

READER 4: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

#1: dark, or something symbolic like a candle or sunrise
[Advent candles lit]

READER 1: In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.

#2: Mary cooking in oven

The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

#3: angel and Mary: Mary looks surprised

READER 2: Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

READER 1: But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

#5: Angel alone.

READER 2: "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

#7: Mary with angel; she looks puzzled

READER 1: The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

#8: angel

READER 2: "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

#10: Mary, looking prayerful and contemplative.

READER 4: Then the angel left her.

[brief pause for transition music]

READER 3: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

#13: Official reading proclamation scroll. People listening.

And everyone went to his own town to register.

#14: Walking people

READER 4: So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

READER 2:: While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

#16: Mary holds baby.

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

#17: Mary places baby in manger;Joseph watches.

SING:  "Away in a Manger"

#18a, 18b, 18c...: shepherds and sheep

READER 3: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

#19: Shepherds and sheep

READER 4: An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

#20: Shepherds, sheep and 1 angel.

READER 1: But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

READER 3: Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

#24: crowd of angels

ALL READERS: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

#25: Smiling, singing angel faces

SING:"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"

#26a, 26b, 26c...: individual angels

READER 3: When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

#27: Shepherds stand and point.

READER 4: So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

#28: shepherds and sheep, looking in door.

READER 2: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

#31: Mary and Joseph smiling fondly at baby.

READER 4: The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

#32: Shepherds smiling and singing.

READER 1: For to us a child is born,
READER 2: to us a son is given,
READER 3: and the government will be on his shoulders.
READER 4: And he will be called

READER 1: Wonderful Counselor,
READER 2: Mighty God,
READER 3: Everlasting Father,
READER 4: Prince of Peace.

#33: Mary, Joseph, and shepherds tableau.

SING: "Joy to the World"


Advent Banners

Last year, in November the children made a group banner for each week of Advent in the Artisan's Workshop, our art workshop.

Each Advent Sunday in worship a banner was presented and the children sang a song (Music Workshop) that emphasized the banner shown - Hope, Love, Peace, or Joy.

The banners were hung in the sanctuary.

Jerrie Lynn

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