The season of Advent is a little harder to explain to a child than Christmas. Involving kids in the season by using an Advent wreath is one way to help them prepare for Christmas and learn about God's promise to send His Son. The word "advent" comes from the Latin word for coming - "adventus."
An advent wreath helps us prepare for the coming of Jesus. The four candles, one for each Sunday in Advent, help remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World. In our wreath, there are three purple candles (signifying royalty) and one pink (signifying joy). The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent. Some wreaths include a white fifth candle in the center, the "Christ candle," lit on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, the four colored candles are replaced with white candles. The circular shape of the Advent wreath reminds us that God's love is unending, and the evergreens represent everlasting life.
My kids are too young to light real candles so this year we decided to make a flameless paper Advent Wreath that they would be able to "light" with removable paper flames.
2 paper towel tubes
large circular paper plate
1. Cut the two paper towel tubes in half to make four "candles." Paint three of the rolls purple and the remaining roll pink.
2. Cut a large circular hole out of the center of the paper plate to form a wreath shape. Cut four half-circle notches the size of the paper candle diameter in the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock positions so that the candles can be easily arranged in the wreath. Paint the wreath green.
3. To make the candle tops, after the paint has dried, cut out four 3-inch diameter circles from construction paper (three purple and one pink). Place a paper towel roll in the center of each circle and trace around it. Use a scissors to cut notches up to the circle drawn on each of the paper circles. Place glue around the rim of each candle and center the paper candle top on the candle and glue down the candle top to each candle, bending the notched cuts around the side of each candle.
4. Make four flames out of yellow construction paper. The bottom of each flame should include a long segment to insert in the candle top. Cut a notch in the top of each candle to make a place to insert the flame.
5. Add decorations to the green wreath. We added green holly leaves and red berries made out of construction paper.
6. (Optional) Paint a fifth tube white and place in the center of the wreath. If the candles are unstable, use play dough on the bottom to help stabilize.
The Time of Christmas by Suzanne Richterkessing, illustrated by Susan Morris; Concordia Publishing House/Thrivent (2005, originally published 1999); 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from our personal library
I couldn't find a children's book that dealt specifically with the topic of Advent wreaths, but we do own a picture book that uses fictional mouse characters to discuss the seasons and symbols of Christmas in the church. The Time of Christmas follows two little mice, Smidge and Smudge, as they try to find a warm home as winter approaches. They decide to make their home in a church and learn all about Advent, Christmas and Epiphany from an older mouse. While the book doesn't cover the topics with as much detail as I would like, it briefly discusses Advent wreathes, the nativity, chrismons, candles and the Magi in terms that young children can understand. The hymn, "Jesus, Our Good Friend," is printed in the back cover.
"Do you see the four candles?" The two mice nodded. "There is one candle for each of the four Sundays in Advent. A new candle is lit every Sunday. When they are all burning brightly, Jesus' birthday will be very near. Indeed, indeed!"
The Time of Christmas is part of an out-of-print children's book series published by Concordia called The Mouse Prints Journey Through the Church Year. It's a nice series to use to help teach preschoolers on up to early elementary ages about the different church celebrations throughout the year and is intended for Lutherans, but the topics apply to many Christians. Other books in the series include The Time of Easter and The Time of the Church.
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