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The lesson plans, ideas, and resources in this "General" forum about Jesus' Birth tend to cover the "entire" story of Jesus' birth, rather than focusing on individual parts or persons in it. Check our other Advent story forums for lessons that are more specific to particular persons or episodes, such as angels, Mary, shepherds, Magi, etc. Don't forget the Writing Team's extra creative Advent lesson sets too!

This thread is for posting any workshop lessons and ideas related to "The Jesse Tree."

"Jesse Tree" refers to Jesus' family lineage, and are typically "family tree" displays created during Advent. The word "tree" comes from a mis-translation of the Hebrew word for "stump" or "stem" in Isaiah 11:  

The Peaceful Kingdom
11 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

The tree/branches/stems/vines were popular artistic motifs in the Middle Ages, and are still used today in Church art. The idea is similar to the idea behind evergreen boughs. In later centuries, the idea of depicting one's family as a "tree" became prominent, and still is today.

Please note: There are Jesse Tree lessons found in other Birth of Jesus forums here in the Exchange. This thread is for quick posting of Jesse Tree resources.

If you post a web link, please also post enough information about the resource you are linking so that it can be searched for in case the specific link goes dead (and they often do).

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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We used Cornerstones lessons on the Jesse Tree.

  • Cooking - Create a traditional French Christmas dessert – Buche de Noel – to symbolize the root of Jesse in relation to the birth of the Messiah.
    We modified the Cooking lesson to use instant pudding as the filler for the "Yule Log" and used canned frosting mixed with a bit of milk to thin it. The workshop leader brought in the cake pre-made each week and also thought of coloring small marshmallows with green food coloring which the kids then shaped (smashed!) and rolled in green sprinkles.
  • Games - Play a game of checkers on a large scale.
  • Puppets - Enact a puppet show illustrating Knots on a Counting Rope, a Native American tale of how to pass family stories on to the next generation.
  • Storytelling: Hear the faith story of Rahab, the great-great grandmother of David.

Here are some web sites where I found additional info.


--Carol

Editor's note:  [Update 2016: In the past year or so, the founders f Cornerstones retired. Their website and materials are no longer available.] (Though you may be able to find them in your denominational resources.)

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Games Workshop Idea:

We purchased a large (9'x9') checkerboard set w/ 10" checkers. On each checker I put the name of one of Jesus' ancestors (this may have been in the Cornerstone's curriculum ... I'm not sure where I found this idea).

However, we played in two teams. To move a checker you were required to call the checker by name. If it was jumping an opponent you also had to call that checker by name. For example: I want DAVID to jump JEHOSHAPHAT.

My 10-yr-old played one day. After church, I asked him to name Jesus' ancestors ... he named about 20 and had learned them from the checkers.

I accomplished what I wanted ... he recognized the names. Now I'm thinking of using it for ... disciples, fruits of spirit, spiritual gifts, etc.


Moderator adds: To see the same idea used for the Fruit of The Spirit using a large checkerboard (includes photo) go to https://www.rotation.org/topic...8#314857210115738318

Last edited by Luanne Payne

General Christmas Lessons
Art or Storytelling Workshop: Jesse Tree

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Scripture Reference:

Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:26-38

Memory Verse

Isaiah 9:6


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the Scripture and Background Materials ahead of time
  • Gather the Materials


Materials List:

  • 2 large trees on posters or posterboard with velcrox dots placed on truck and into leaves where members of the family tree will be placed.
  • Family tree cards (Me, Mom, Dad, Grandma (2), Grandpa (2), Great-Grandma (4), Great-Grandpa (4), Great-Great Grandma (8), Great-Great Grandpa (8), Jesse, Mary, Jesus written on them)
  • 1 small tree (could be artificial, could be branches from a live tree)
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Ribbon
  • Paper punch(es)
  • Pictures of Jesse tree symbols taken from https://www.eriercd.org/Jesse-Tree-Ornaments.html
  • Pretty paper to glue onto back of symbols to hang on tree.


Advanced Preparation Requirements:

  • Hang tree posters on wall at eye level. Hang large pictures of Jesse tree symbols on wall (the web site has small ornament-size pictures, as well as larger display-size pictures to download).

Presentation

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

Greet the children and introduce yourself and any helpers that you have. Introduce the art project.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection

Activity: Lead a discussion that goes something like this: Have you ever heard of a family tree? (allow responses) A family tree is a symbol that we use to show how our families connect.
The trunk of the tree represents us (put up “Me” card) on trunk. The branches are used to show how we “branch out” (put up Mother and Father cards). The branches grow and spread out as we connect our lives to our ancestors, or those that have gone before us. (Add grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents.)

In Isaiah 11:1 the Bible says, “a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” This verse is used to trace the ‘family tree’ of Jesus. We can look at this tree like this:
(Put up Jesse card on root of tree, Mary on trunk, and Jesus in the “fruit” or leaves.) Matthew 1:1-17 traces the geneology of Jesus through the entire 14 generations. In Matthew 1:20 we see Joseph referred to as the son of David. (Read verse.) He wasn’t actually David’s son, but rather, several generations later, (like great-great-great-great-great, etc. grandson).Joseph will become Jesus’ earthly father when he is born in the manger at Bethlehem.

We already know that Advent means coming, preparing, waiting. During Advent we sometimes use the Jesse Tree to remind us of the stories of those people faithfully waiting for the Messiah throughout the Old Testament. After the fall in the garden, God put into action the plan to redeem the world by sending a Savior, or Messiah. In one way or another, all of the people throughout the Old Testament are expecting and waiting for His coming.

Review those people of faith that we have learned about in previous rotations. Use the pictures on the wall, and the sentence or sentences to remind/review. Ask the kids to look at each picture and try to remember the story. If possible, relate how each person(s) was waiting. They were all waiting for the Messiah that had been promised by God. Depending on the age of the group for each Sunday, all of the people/events show us that God keeps his promises. He was teaching that he will keep his promises and teaching about faith, preparing for the ultimate Promise – the Messiah. Because we have seen through the Bible that He keeps His promises, we believe, as they did, that God will keep His promise to send a Messiah. He sent Him at Christmas, and we believe in His promise that He will come again. ** It gets sort of complicated! It is OK if they just can remember the main idea about the story and that they were all being obedient to God and waiting for the Messiah that God had promised.

Dove: Reminds us of the Creation story.

Apple: Refers to Adam and Eve and the first sin in the Garden of Eden. After the fall God put into action the plan to redeem the world of sin by sending a Savior.

Ark: Reminds us of the flood. God promised never again to flood the whole earth. God

Stars: Reminds us of Abraham and the Promise that his descendants would be like the stars in heaven – too many to count.

Ram: Reminds of the offering to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham was following what God told him to do.

Ladder: Jacob’s ladder. God told Jacob that his descendants would be as many as dust on the earth.

Bag of Wheat: Ruth meets Boaz while threshing wheat. She marries Boaz. They have a son Obed. Obed has a son, Jesse.
Jesse is the father of David. Joseph is a descendant of David.
Joseph will become Jesus’ earthly father.

Shepherd’s Crook: Reminds us of David, the shepherd.

Manger: Reminds us of the place where Jesus was born. The waiting is over – Jesus, the Messiah is here!

Candle: Reminds us of the Magi coming to worship the newborn Messiah.


Activity: After reviewing the pictures and who they represent, explain that the Jesse tree is decorated with ornaments that remind us of these people of faith who were waiting for the Messiah to come. Have each child choose one of the ornaments to cut out. Cut out one of the larger circles of decorated paper. Glue the ornament to the paper, punch a hole in the top, and tie a ribbon through the hole. Hang the ornament on the tree. Remind children to put their names on the back of their ornament so that they may take it home after Advent.

  • Reminds us of the Creation story.
  • Refers to Adam and Eve and the first sin in the Garden of Eden. After the fall God put into action the plan to redeem the world of sin by sending a Savior.
  • Reminds us of the flood. God promised never again to flood the whole earth.
  • Reminds us of Abraham and the Promise that his descendants would be like the stars in heaven – too many to count.
  • Reminds of the offering to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham was following what God told him to do.
  • Jacob’s ladder. God told Jacob that his descendants would be as many as dust on the earth.
  • Ruth meets Boaz while threshing wheat. She marries Boaz. They have a son Obed. Obed has a son, Jesse. Jesse is the father of David.
  • Reminds us of David, the shepherd.
  • Reminds us of the place where Jesus was born. The waiting is over – Jesus, the Messiah is here!
  • Reminds us of the Magi coming to worship the newborn Messiah.

Closing:

Close with a prayer and have the children assist in the cleanup before being dismissed.

Resources:
The Jesse Tree by Raymond and George Anderson
Celebrating Seasons by Phyllis Vos Wezeman and Jude Dennis Fournier
Things to Make and Do for Advent & Christmas by Martha Bettis Gee


A lesson written by Rachel Haugland and Linda Norem
Bethel Lutheran Church, Story City, IA

Last edited by Luanne Payne
CreativeCarol posted:
We used Cornerstones lessons on the Jesse Tree:

  • Cooking - Create a traditional French Christmas dessert – Buche de Noel – to symbolize the root of Jesse in relation to the birth of the Messiah.
  • Games - Play a game of checkers on a large scale.
  • Puppets - Enact a puppet show illustrating Knots on a Counting Rope, a Native American tale of how to pass family stories on to the next generation.
  • Storytelling: Hear the faith story of Rahab, the great-great grandmother of David.

Hi, Carol

My church would love to do Jesse's Tree this year, from Isaiah Scripture, but it's a rarity. Where did you get this basic outline of workshops?

Thank you!

Guyton Christian

Last edited by CreativeCarol

Hi RM from Guyton,

These lessons were offered for free by a publisher called Cornerstones. Unfortunately, Cornerstones has gone out of business and so, there went the files.

I'll also say that we have never repeated this "story" in our Rotation line up (our Scope and Sequence) since that first time in 2004. Why? Because I felt that time with our kids is too short - we "get" them for just 6 years. There are more important concepts to teach them about the Birth of Jesus.*  And I felt that the concept of a Jesse Tree was better something that families did as a devotional. For a great resource for families see Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.

* Here's what we do teach for our Advent Rotations:

  1. Isaiah promised; Jesus Fulfilled (WT)
  2. Jesus’ Birth: Mary Accepts, Magnifies, & Ponders (WT)
  3. *The Birth Narrative (we repeat this every 3 years so that kids get it at different ages)
  4. Jesus’ Birth: The Message of Shepherds & Angels (only four of these workshops were posted and they are found the Jesus Birth through the Eyes of the Shepherds forum under Art, Cooking, Storytelling, and Video.)
  5. The Wise Still Seek Him
  6. *The Birth Narrative (repeated every 3 years).
Last edited by Luanne Payne

@RM

Anne Voskamp has several books with devotions and Jesse Tree stories. You could use her details and incorporate them into your lessons and the lesson ideas shared above.

Check out her page here: http://annvoskamp.com/thegreatestchristmas/

There are links from there to pages with pdfs of ornaments you can print and color: https://s3.amazonaws.com/a.vos...ments-4+per+page.pdf

voskampJesseTreeThe amazon.com description of Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: Based on the overwhelming success of The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp has expanded her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree so families can celebrate together. Each day, families can read the provided Scripture passage (in connection with the original book), engage with a specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme. https://www.amazon.com/Unwrapp...;keywords=jesse+tree 

 

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Last edited by Luanne Payne

Some links:

See the discussion of the STUMP of Jesse which is part of a creative "branches" wreath idea.

See this pastor's discussion of the Stump of Jesse and what it really says to us. Very interesting.

Free Jesse Tree Kit from the Reformed Church with 29 printable Jesse Tree ornaments. both in color and black and white for coloring.

Make a Jesse Tree in a pot with a real branch stuck in a piece of styrofoam and covered with stones

I wonder... instead of hanging ornaments each day on our Jesse Tree, why not put them all on the tree to start with, and PLUCK ONE each day like a fruit and "do" what is written on the back of each ornament. Jesus used the tree image to teach us that we need to produce good fruit. 

For example, on the back of the JACOB ornament, write a "food" to donate or make for someone to help remember that Jacob used food to deceive his father and stole his brothers birthright, and yet, was still part of Jesus' family tree. Making/giving food to help is good fruit.

Kids could decide what "action" should go with each ornament in advance, write them and hang them.

Kids could decorate the pot.

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