Skip to main content

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!

Note to Visitors: Free registration is required to enter this specific Advent forum.

This thread is for collecting Video, Music, and/or audio-visual resources covering the Birth of Jesus. You may also post lessons and lesson ideas.

NOTE: This is the "general" Birth of Jesus thread. Other "Video Workshop" threads in this "Birth of Jesus" forum focus on different parts of the Advent story, and also have recommendations. The following is for "general" Birth of Jesus story videos.

Related Topics: 

Mary Magnifies (WT) |  Isaiah/Prophets ForetellShepherds Angels

Mary, Joseph, AngelWiseman



Posting Helps

  • Please post the actual title of the video and "year" if possible.
  • Please include the publisher's name, and a possible source. You are welcome to post a weblink, however, those tend to go dead after a while.
  • Please post WHICH PARTS of the Birth story the video may cover.
  • If you have discussion questions or a brief outline, please include those too.
Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

General Christmas Lesson

Video Workshop - A Charlie Brown Christmas DVD

 

Confession:
When I first heard of the idea of using this video, I was non-plussed. I like the video and grew up with it. But I wondered whether it was still current enough for today's kids, and whether or not it was a better idea than using one of the many "Birth of Jesus" re-enactment videos out there. I was wrong, it is.

What changed my mind:
While reviewing a lesson here in the Exchange that used the Charlie Brown video, I remembered reading that Charles Schulz was a "secular humanist", and that got me reading more about Schultz and the making of this video. The stories can become an important part of your lesson with this video. I've included "making of" story below with some discussion questions.

Schulz was raised in the church and even taught Sunday School for a while. BUT...He stopped going to church and when asked about religion he called himself a secular humanist. Yet here he is in this Charlie Brown script delivering a timeless message about "the true meaning of Christmas" that ends with Linus' memorable reading from the Gospel of Luke, and Charlie Brown embracing the forelorn little tree, decorating it, and attracting a crowd of his friends to sing carols.

That sounds like the Gospel to me.

In one cartoon Schulz the non-church-goer shared the Gospel with more people than all of us put together.

You might even say it was Schulz' "prodigal confession" though I'm sure he wouldn't agree (he died a few years back). As Jesus might say, "God can even make these stones sing."


NOW HERE'S THE KICKER...

Charlie Brown Christmas amost didn't get made, and I suggest you share that story with your students as well. Here is an excerpt from the National Review article (11/11):

CBS executives did not want to have Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke. The network orthodoxy of the time assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the King James Bible.

There was a standoff of sorts, but Schulz did not back down, and because of the tight production schedule and CBS’s prior promotion, the network executives aired the special as Schulz intended it. But they were certain they had a flop on their hands.

“They were freaking out about something so overtly religious in a Christmas special,” explained Melendez (the producer). “They basically wrote it off, like, hey, this is just isn’t going to be interesting to anyone, and it’s just going to be like a big tax write-off.”

Melendez himself was somewhat hesitant about the reading from Luke. “I was leery of the religion that came into it, and I was right away opposed to it. But Sparky (Schultz) just assumed what he had to say was important to somebody.”

Which is why Charles Schulz was Charles Schulz. He knew that the Luke reading by Linus was the heart and soul of the story.

As Charlie Brown sinks into a state of despair trying to find the true meaning of Christmas, Linus quietly saves the day. He walks to the center of the stage where the Peanuts characters have gathered, and under a narrow spotlight, quotes the second chapter of the Gospel According to Luke, verses 8 through 14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.

“ . . . And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” Linus concluded.

The scene lasted 51 seconds. When Linus finished up, Charlie Brown realized he did not have to let commercialism ruin his Christmas. With a sense of inspiration and purpose, he picked up his fragile tree and walked out of the auditorium, intending to take it home to decorate and show all who cared to see how it would work in the school play.

When CBS executives saw the final product, they were horrified. They believed the special would be a complete flop. CBS programmers were equally pessimistic, informing the production team, “We will, of course, air it next week, but I’m afraid we won’t be ordering any more.”

The half-hour special aired on Thursday, December 9, 1965, preempting The Munsters and following Gilligan’s Island. To the surprise of the executives, 50 percent of the televisions in the United States tuned in to the first broadcast. The cartoon was a critical and commercial hit; it won an Emmy and a Peabody award.

Linus’s recitation was hailed by critic Harriet Van Horne of the New York World-Telegram, who wrote, “Linus’ reading of the story of the Nativity was, quite simply, the dramatic highlight of the season.”

 Summary of Lesson Activities:

Uses A Charlie Brown Christmas DVD

 

Lesson Objectives:

  • Discover the true meaning of Christmas
  • Learn how the share the meaning of Christmas

Leader Preparation:

  • Watch the video ahead of time
  • Read the background materials
  • Gather the Materials

Materials List:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas DVD
  • Popcorn

Advance Preparation Requirements:

  • Have the DVD ready to go
  • Make the popcorn


Presentation

 

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

Greet the children and introduce yourself and any helpers that you have. Tell them what you will be watching.

 

Dig- Main Content and Reflection


1. Before watching ask...

  • Who is Charlie Brown and what always happens to him?
  • What is the "real meaning" of Christmas?
  • How can our celebrations and focus on give-buying cloud/overshadow this real meaning?

Say: In this video, look for how Charlie discovers the true meaning of Christmas, and how he shares it with his friends.

2. Tell the students the story of how this show almost didn't get made.

3. Show the Video (The video has the scripture for today!)

4. After watching...

  • Who were the "heroes and villains" in the story?
  • What did Charlie do to find the real meaning of Christmas?
  • How did his actions at the end of the movie change those around him?

A shepherd is a humble person believes the Lord will do great things.

  • Who were the "shepherds" in the story?

An angel is someone who announces good news.

  • Who were the "angels" in the story? And who did the angels share the message with?
  • How do you share the real meaning of Christmas with your friends and family?

Lucy always pulls away the football from Charlie Brown.

  • Will she continue to do it now that she's heard the message? Why? Why not? If she has heard the message and not changed, what can Charlie do?


Some Questions for Discussion about the Story Behind the Video:

After watching the video...

  • Why did the CBS executives assume people would not want to hear the religious content in Charlie Brown Christmas?
  • What do you suppose made Schultz push to include the "true meaning of Christmas" part of the story, even though he no longer went to church?
  • How does Schultz' story illustrate how God can choose to speak through those outside the official church?
  • Why did Schultz call Linus "the heart and soul of the story"?
  • What forces are at work in our culture trying to "cancel" the real meaning of Christmas?
  • What things can we do to be like Charlie Brown and Linus in our Christmas celebrations?
  • How can we draw attention to the real meaning of Christmas?

For Deeper Discussion:

Schultz described himself as a "secular humanist".

  • What do the terms "secular" and "humanist" mean?

    Wiki: "A secular humanist embraces human reason, ethics, and social justice while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making".(Note: "secular humanist" doesn't necessarily mean "athiest", though it is often used that way. Some who believe in the existence of God call themselves secular humanists. And indeed, many aspects of secular humanism are what Christ preaches.... reasons, ethics, justice, rejecting dogma, superstition.)
  • What is it about the church and some traditions/celebrations that might turn away people who were raised in the church, or might otherwise come to church?
  • How does our preoccupation with gift-giving, over-eating, and over-decorating detract from the message of Christmas?
  • What can we do or say in the middle of our celebrating to send the right message or "invitation" to those watching the church and Christians during this time of year?

Closing:

Close with a prayer.


 

 

A lesson written by Neil MacQueen

Venice, FL

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Videos

1. The King is Born
Nest Entertainment
30 minutes

Questions:

  • God promised the Jews that he would send a Savior. The promise was kept with Jesus. What promises does God make to us? What promises do we make to Him?
  • God spoke to Mary and Joseph through an angel. How does God speak to us today? Do you think there are still angels today?


Refer back to the memory verse for the month. . . Hebrews 1:14. . .Also, talk about Hebrews 13:2.
(Have kids look these verses up in their Bibles and follow along or read aloud themselves!) Write the version listed above on a large piece of paper and post somewhere in the room for kids to refer to. Talk about the differences in the wording in the different translations of the Bible.

· Why do you think the angels appeared to the shepherds and not to the people in the city? (Do you ever get too busy to listen to God?)




2. “Alabaster’s Song – Christmas through the Eyes of an Angel”

Tommy Nelson – Word Kids!
30 minutes

Discussion:

  • What are angels? (Angels are God’s helpers, His messengers.)
  • Where are the angels, where do they live? (Up in heaven and all around us)
  • What do angels do? Why are they around? (Angels protect us, guide us, bring us messages/announcements, help us)
  • How do we know that angels exist? (The Bible tells us so, God tells us, some people have seen angels or felt their presence beside them)
  • When we die and go live in heaven with God, we will be called a saint. God tells us what a wonderful mansion He has prepared for us. We know there is no fear of death when we believe in the Lord.
Last edited by Rotation.org Lesson Forma-teer

Free from the publisher and also posted to YouTube by the publisher...

Screen shot from the trailerSpeed Sketch Bible Stories Series

Free to download at Wesleyan Publishers
Also posted on YouTube by the publisher.

Speed sketches are "video-accelerated illustrations."

See Cathy Walz's post below for how to make your own Advent story speed sketch videos!

Their collection includes four ADVENT stories:

  1. Isaiah's vision of hope (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; with Micah 5:2).
  2. The magi in search of peace (Matt. 2:1-12).
  3. The annunciation and Mary's response of love (Luke 1:26-38).
  4. The joy of Jesus' Birth and of finding the Christ (Luke 2:1-20).

Each story is about 5 minutes long, in both English and Spanish. Also included are the NIV ‘84 scripture readings of the four stories, which vary in length from about 2 minutes to five minutes, depending on the story.

Attachments

Images (1)
  • Speed Sketch screen shot from the trailer
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

A Review and Idea for Speed Sketch


Speed Sketch DVDWe bought Speed Sketch: The Story of Advent.  We tried to show and discuss all four and the novelty of watching the person speed sketch and color the drawings wore off pretty quickly.

Thus, I would not watch all four stories in a row as the main activity of a video workshop, but rather, as an introduction to the story/scripture, then follow it up with an activity.

Note: All of Speed Sketches Bible presentations are now on YouTube for free. Search YouTube for "Speed Sketch Bible Stories."  They can all be freely downloaded from the publisher. Look at the bottom of this page at Wesleyan Publishing for the download link.

IDEA:

Use one or two of the speed sketch videos to share the story and prep your kids to make their own speed catch video!

How to make your own speed sketch?
Download a free video app to your cellphone. Record the student drawing their assigned scene, then play it back with the video speed turned up!    If you have several adults, get each to download a speedup app in advance and bring their cellphones so you can record several kids at once. Another option is to have kids work together on one large drawing.

TIP: For best recording, position the cellphone on a flexible tripod or simple frame you make yourself to look DOWN onto the drawing on the table. That will keep the camera from moving around (which is annoying at higher speed).

Note: There are many "video speed up, slow down" apps to choose from for both iPhone and Android phones, and they come and go. Search your app store.

Attachments

Images (2)
  • Speed Sketch DVD
  • mceclip0
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

here is a fun video with children acting out the story starting with the angel Gabriel announcing the baby to Mary through the three wise men (and the party afterwards!  

"The story of Christmas as told by the children of St Paul's Church, Auckland, New Zealand. Anyone is welcome to show this film publicly, but not change it in any way, publish/broadcast it, nor make money out of it."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...0oyrHVQ#action=share

 

Some Christmas Movie Reviews

These are my own opinions. You are welcome to post your own or respond to these.

The Nativity, 2006

Live action. Written by the guy who wrote Finding Forrester and Secretariat. nativityA dramatic and reverent film that includes at its heart a loving relationship between Mary and Joseph. Well-done, realistic, inspiring, and full-length. Not for younger children. 2006 from New Line Cinema.

This is a full-length movie. Break it into two parts or use only certain chapters depending on your available time and age range.




The Star

2017, Sony Animation

starSaw (most of) "The Star" last weekend. It was "ok" but our preschool-age grand-daughter grew restless and we had to leave the theater about 2/3 the way through when she lost interest. She also thought the dogs were "too scary."

When I shared my review on our Rotation.org Facebook page, a number of people said, "we loved it!" (Check out some of those reviews posted below.) 

This movie will likely start appearing at church movie nights and cable TV because of its star voice cast, so be sure YOU have reviewed it before showing it.

Excerpts from other people's reviews that I thought hit the nail on the head:

  • ...trying to split the difference between Sunday school and the Cartoon Network, but the results meet the standards of neither.
  • Never overcomes the impression that it exists only to make a certain sum of money.
  • The film pinballs between reverence and poop jokes.





Why Do We Call It Christmas?
with Buck Denver

from the people who made the terrific What's in the Bible series, 2011.

xmasThis DVD has some good content, but it's too long and overly-explanatory (talky talk) for children.  This was surprising because I love the rest of the What's in the Bible series of DVDs fro the same people.

After previewing it, and thinking it was "good enough," I showed it to a group of 1st through 5th graders at a Fellowship Event. The longer it went on, the more they squirmed. Much of the content went right past the younger ones. At times, the pace slows down as it tries a little too hard to explain things.

At 44 minutes long (TV length?), it reminds me of a lot of sermons that could have been made MUCH better had they made it shorter, done a little less "talky talk," and left a few pages on the cutting room floor.

HOWEVER.... In ANOTHER DVD made by the same company...

Part 1 of DVD #10: "Jesus is the Good News" from the What's in the Bible series, DOES do a VERY good job of explaining how the Old Testament led to the New, ...why the coming of Jesus the Messiah was necessary, and what he'd do for the world. It's about 15 minutes. No "birth" story, per se. Rather, it's about "why" and "why then?"



The Promise (Glorious Films)

Animated, musical. See the outline and review here at rotation.org. I like the modern animation and the fact that it's a musical -but not "kiddie" music.  Lots of majesty and feeling.



The Fourth Wiseman

One of my favorite "Bible" movies ever.
Stars Martin Sheen as the fourth or "other" Wiseman who missed joining his friends on their journey to Bethlehem because he kept being pulled into helping others. He eventually spends the wealth he was going to give the Christ child. At the end of his life, he comes upon Jesus who is walking to the cross and is blessed with the realization that his life of service was his gift to Jesus.   (1985)

Here's a preview of this 70 minute movie from YouTube:

You can see a full-length version on YouTube for private review at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfVgUqR5oPs

Available on DVD or for download from your favorite online movie retailer, or Amazon.  REALLY worth the price.

Follows the famous story by Henry Van Dyke, a famous 19th Century Presbyterian preacher.

The Mormon Church made a kids' cartoon version of the story which is a lot shorter. You can see it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/yzNwLEfxlDQ  Check this related post for more about these two "Fourth Wiseman" videos.

Attachments

Images (3)
  • xmas
  • star
  • nativity
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Positive reviews of "The Star" (2017) — as seen on our Facebook Page


Member Robin Cannon wrote:

I took a group last weekend - as young as 3 year olds and including lots of parents. We all really enjoyed it and even the very young children enjoyed it. There is plenty of humor and adventure, but they get the important parts of the story right!



Member Ron Shifley wrote:

We took a group of young families from our church to see The Star last weekend. Everyone loved the movie. Some of the mothers said it almost made them cry. The movie, given its retelling from the animals point of view, and slapstick comedy, would not make Sunday School material, but the movie did hit most of the high points of the Gospel narratives of the Christmas story in a reverential way. The best part of the film was the dialogue between Mary and Joseph when she revealed she was carrying the Christ Child, and how Joseph had to struggle to understand it. The movie did offer some good moral lessons too: that sometimes we carry royalty unaware, and that bad dogs can be redeemed and welcomed into the throne room of grace. I personally loved the annunciation of Mary and angelic announcement to the shepherds scenes.

On a personal note, I took my 3 year old grandson to see the movie with our group, and he was enthralled during the whole movie.

Our church is using video clips from the film that we purchased from movie’s website’s Resource Section for churches to illustrate our Advent Wreath lighting meditations this year. It’s not Sunday School material, but would make a great Faith & Films Family Night.
Free “The Star Family Discussion Guide” from the Star production company. Theme: Courage to Hope and Seek. http://origin-flash.sonypictur...wellplannedguide.pdf

Link to the free “Star” movie discussion guide: https://www.rotation.org/sendT...wellplannedguide.pdf

Attachments

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Star of Bethlehem Breaking News!

Found this fun "Star News Bethlehem" video on YouTube Just under 5 minutes. Professional quality newscast, done with children as the performers. Recounts the story from Luke 2 (with a riot regarding the unpopular census). Brief allusion to the three kings following the star.   (I think the New Zealand accents make it more fun and believable..... )

A neat idea:
After watching it, have your kids make their own "Breaking News from Bethlehem" broadcast.

Last edited by Amy Crane

More FREE Christmas videos

on YouTube, from the children and adults of St Paul's Church, Auckland, New Zealand:

An Unexpected Christmas: a speculative conversation between God and the angels about sending his son. "They won't be expecting that!" A bit over 5 minutes long.

Consider following it with creating your own video of the angels announcing to the shepherds and singing (either a traditional hymn like "Joy to the World" or a song of their own creation).

Next is an "American English" version of “An Unexpected Christmas” based on the same script. It's a little less charming and humorous and also doesn't include the manger scene which the original NZ version does.




Good News of Great Joy.  A slightly different look at the Christmas story -- it starts with Adam and Eve in the Garden, having a great time hanging out with God! Then a quick look at the fall, Noah's ark, the Ten Commandments, and ends with the angels announcing JOY TO THE WORLD to the shepherds. About 4 minutes long.

Great for starting conversations about why we need a savior. Would be a great introduction for an art workshop or Bible skills workshop where you talk about Jesse Tree and make (or color) ornaments.  Google Jesse Tree ornaments for all sorts of ideas; here is one. Also check Jesse Tree ideas here in this Forum.

This video could even be included in an Adam and Eve and the Fall workshop lesson.






When God Was Born: the children retell the story, with some simple truths ("he was just a normal human") and a few fuzzy details (such as Gabriel visiting Joseph in the daytime instead of in a dream). Four and a half minutes long.

This video might be a good inspiration for the children developing their own retelling of the story, either as a group (a drama or puppet show in class) or individually (practice retelling with or without puppets or props to spread the good news to their family and friends at home).




Gold Frankincense Myrrh: The prophecies and symbols surrounding the birth of Jesus. Reading of scriptures and dramatizing of snippets of the story of Jesus (including crucifixion). Not as much fun as the above videos featuring children, but therefore may be better for older students. About 4  minutes long.

Would be a helpful intro for a names of Jesus workshop.




Star of Wonder: "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed." (Matthew 2: 10) "Candid Camera" type street scenes of people reacting to a cheerful child dancing down the street in a star costume. About 3 minutes.

Great conversation starter about carrying the Good News into our community. How do we do it? Could be an intro for a mission workshop.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Found this great fan-created video on YouTube that makes extensive use of scenes from The Nativity movie, and other Jesus movies, creatively matching the lyrics of the song "Revelation" by Phillips, Craig and Dean, contemporary Christian music artists.

The lyrics are on onscreen and the matching of the lyrics to scenes from Jesus' life are awesome. The song lyrics and visuals speak to the Advent of the Messiah, the Lamb. 

Enjoy.

heavensmercyseat

The lyrics read like an old-fashioned hymn but with a compelling modern tune. Excerpt below. Full lyrics can be found by googling the song.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on heaven's mercy seat
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on heaven's mercy seat
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You

Attachments

Images (1)
  • heavensmercyseat

I don't know about your little kids or grandkids, but here in 2018 and 2019 mine are obsessed with the song "Baby Shark."  If you don't know it, see the original song video. It's such an ear-worm 

Found this really cute Christmas story version of it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/XZnJ-MfMNPM  It's a slightly slower version (there are many versions).

Fun to see it acted out. Kids could figure out hand-motions to it (dance and hand motions are what they do in the original Baby Shark video).

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

This is a great video of a puppet version of the story events Entitled “Bethlehemian Rhapsody”, set to the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It’s very entertaining!  

Here’s the link:  https://youtu.be/pW1pbuyGlQ0

The guy who did the soundtrack for the parody sell the MP3 audio for $1.99 at https://www.thepuppetunes.com/. That has prompted several churches to create their own fun versions of Bethlehemian Rhapsody such as this one featuring the 6th and 7th graders class at St Dominic Church. Baby Jesus at the end is worth the wait!

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

The Christ Child, (2019) an artistic and yet realistic portrayal of the events of Christ's birth, with a subtle but moving soundtrack and almost no dialog (but in Aramaic when they do speak).

18 minutes long. It can be found on YouTube at https://youtu.be/yXWoKi5x3lw. It is also available as a free download on its own website. Originally produced by the LDS church, the film is biblically and historically accurate and does not include any LDS material.

The film was shot for a widescreen. Click the "fullscreen" option for best viewing. A larger screen is especially helpful because much of this movie is filmed "at night."

Journey to Bethlehem, Birth of Jesus, Mary's lullaby, Shepherds, Magi

I appreciated the fact that they included "family" among the shepherds because this too is historically probably.

Attachments

Images (1)
  • mceclip0

Add Reply

Post a New Topic
Lesson or Resource

Rotation.org Inc. is a volunteer-run, 100% member supported, 501(c)3 non-profit Sunday School lesson ministry. You are welcome to borrow and adapt content for non-commercial teaching purposes --as long as both the site and author are referenced. Rotation.org Inc reserves the right to manage, move, condense, delete, and otherwise improve all content posted to the site. Read our Terms of Service.
Rotation.org is rated5 stars on Google based on 51 reviews. Serving a global community including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, and more!

×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×