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To introduce and explore the season of Advent.

by Gordon and Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To introduce and explore the season of Advent.

Preparation and materials

  • Collect some different Advent calendars and candles. Scour the local shops/charity shops and catalogues. Try to get the following:
    - A 'branded' young child's calendar, such as a Thomas the Tank Engine with chocolates type, i.e. one with no religious significance at all.
    - A traditional nativity scene calendar with pictures.
    - A calendar with another culture theme. Christian Aid usually produces one showing how different cultures celebrate the season.
    - A fabric or embroidered calendar. Ask around and you may be able to find a homemade one.
    - At least one Advent candle. Ideally try to get one of the ball type ones (each day has a small ball candle, and you pull them through to sit on the candlestick day by day), but any Advent candle will do.
  • Arrange the calendars and candles attractively, so the children can see them all.


  1. Ask the children what these things are. What are they for? Who's got one at home? Ask them what sort they have. Many will only know the Thomas with chocolates type. Go through the different types, showing the children how they work. Ask individual children to open the doors on the calendars, and light the candle(s) if time allows, or light them yourself.

  2. Explain that the calendars help us to wait, and expect. What are we waiting for? What happened on the first Christmas day?

  3. When we have special visitors, what do we do before they come? We clean up, and get ourselves ready. We think about the visitors and look forward to their arrival. This is the meaning of Advent - arrival. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves - to get ready. Some people like to have less to eat during Advent, so that when Christmas comes, they can really appreciate the food and the fun. Who are we getting ready for? Who are we expecting to arrive?

  4. Ask the children to think to themselves, in a time of quiet, about what they would put behind the windows of an Advent calendar. What would they choose to represent this special time of year? Ask for suggestions. Choose about five of the most appropriate to be represented in still pictures at the front of the hall.

  5. The still pictures are made by children holding a position, like a photograph. This can be the person who suggested the idea on their own, or with a friend if the still picture needs more than one person. Some ideas for Advent still pictures: buying presents for family and friends (child and shop assistant); lighting a candle; opening a door on the Advent calendar. But, of course, be ready for more idiosyncratic ideas from the children.

    (If this 'living Advent calendar' is a success, you could reprise the idea at assemblies leading up to Christmas with children working out still pictures in advance.)

Time for reflection

Look at the candle(s), and think about being ready for Christmas - the birthday of Jesus and a time of celebration and fun.

Think of all the preparations that will be made at home: the food, the tree, the presents. How can you help to make Advent a really good time at home?

Think of everything special that happens at school at this time of year. How can you help to make Advent a really good time at school?


'Come and praise the Lord our King' (Come and Praise, 21)

Publication date: 2002   (Vol.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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