It’s almost that time of year again! It’s time for me to remind you not to be the White Witch! Besides, who doesn’t love the Advent and Christmas seasons?
In our family, our Advent “lessons” (or devotions or studies or whatever you’d call them) are done twice per day — once in the morning during Circle Time, and once in the evening (usually following dinner) with my husband.
I think of Advent “lessons” (ugh I wish I could find a better word) as formal preparation for Christmas. So, we read (especially our Bibles) and listen and sing. These three components prepare our hearts for the season.
One of the things I love about incorporating Advent into our normal school day via Circle Time is that it lends a bit of festivity while we still accomplish our normal lessons.
I often buy a new Advent reader or other resources each year, so needless to say I’ve ended up with quite the collection. Here’s a list of my favorites … there ought to be something for everyone!
I’ve divided this post up into three major sections. The first is a collection of various books we’ve used over the years. The second is a list of resources related to Handel’s Messiah. The third are digital resources — things you can print or use with a Kindle, etc. Each of these sections is done in alphabetical order, so please don’t ascribe any other significance to the order.
Behold the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey
Behold the Lamb of God is our selection for this year, so I can’t yet give you a review. With that said, it already arrived. I flipped through it, and I have high hopes!
The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder
This is a different sort of book, and I find it’s a hit with older children, especially junior high and up. The fictional account of a magic Advent calendar, there’s a chapter for each day of Advent leading up to Christmas that takes you backwards through Church history all the way to Christ in the manger.
The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean
This book is wonderful, especially for small children. You can even make some ornaments and hang them on a homemade Jesse Tree! While Jesse Trees are for all ages, preschoolers and younger elementary students really love them.
Jesus, Light of the World: Praying the Scriptures through Advent by Candace Crabtree
I used this one year when I decided I wanted to have more of a prayer focus for Advent. This worked beautifully, and I felt like it was simple enough for younger elementary students.
Handel’s Messiah Resources
This is three weeks of Morning Time (I call it Circle Time — same thing) plans, loosely organized around Handel’s Messiah. This set has it all: poetry, fine arts, nature study, good books, and so much more, prepared for you with your choice of a grid or loop schedule to follow.
These are available free online and they are wonderful. Couple them with this CD and you are set to go. One question I’ve gotten is why I would use anything else when this is free? The answer is because I wanted something with more than only Handel and Scripture. But sometimes less is more, so choose what’s best for your family!
Hallelujah: A Journey Through Handel’s Messiah edited by Cindy Rollins
This is what I bought for Advent this year. It sounds like it’s based on Cindy’s original plans, but it’s now so much more. I especially look forward to seeing what was added by Greg Wilbur and Lynn Bruce! The hard copy is sold out, so I’ve linked to the Kindle version on Amazon. I believe you can use this with the above CD.
The Handel’s Messiah Family Advent Reader by Payne and L’Enzo
This book is only available used, so you need to beware: if the copy you buy doesn’t come with the CD, the study won’t work very well. We’ve done this book twice, and it was great both times.
These plans are FREE from my friend Pam Barnhill! This is three weeks of Morning Time (I call it Circle Time — same thing) plans, loosely organized around Tchaikovsky’s magical Nutcracker music. In case you are wondering: yes, these are still Christian plans! This is not a secularized Christmas, it’s just an enjoyment of a wonderful Christian tradition we have because of Tchaikovsky’s amazing work. This set has it all: poetry, fine arts, nature study, good books, and so much more, prepared for you with your choice of a grid or loop schedule to follow.
For a long time, I posted my DecemberTerm plans here on Afterthoughts each year. I don’t know why I stopped doing it. Anyhow, all the old plans are still in the archives. A number of readers printed these and used them for their own Advent Circle Times.
This is the list of Christmas songs and poems we’ve learned over the years as a family. I try to update it each time we learn something new. If you’re searching for Christmas memory work, this is for you!
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