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To begin Advent with quietness and reflection.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To begin Advent with quietness and reflection.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need an Advent ring and candles, OR one large candle, and some matches.

  • Whiteboard or other means to display the conundrum.
  • Stopwatch timer (see


  1. Ask for a volunteer from the Reception class to do some counting for you. Explain that this might be tricky because it involves counting backwards. You would like the volunteer to count back from 30 to 1.

    Now ask for a second volunteer to do this again, very quickly. This time you would like to try and beat the Countdown clock.
  2. Explain that this timer is from a game called Countdown. In the TV game two contestants are given nine letters that they have to make different words from, within 30 seconds. It is not easy, but some of the contestants are amazing at solving these word puzzles. At the end of 30 seconds the contestant who makes the longest word is the winner.

    Sometimes very clever contestants can use all the letters to make one big nine-lettered word.

    You are now going to put on the whiteboard a nine-lettered mixed up word. The children have 30 seconds, while the clock timer is ticking, to figure it out. If they find the word they must put up their hand, but not shout out the answer.

    The letters are: R A T S I M H C S

    At the end of the 30 seconds congratulate any children who have figured out the word. Ask if they found it stressful, hearing the clock ticking in the background?
  3. Identify that this is the beginning of the Christmas season and usually there is a lot of counting down going on. You may hear people say, ‘Only 24 days to Christmas, only 23 days to Christmas!’

    Magazines are full of Christmas dinner countdowns – when to prepare your Christmas cake, your Christmas pudding, when to order your turkey.

    TV adverts are all about countdowns for present buying – for Mum, for Dad, for Aunt Jemima and even for the cat!

    Everywhere there are shopping lists and address lists and ticked lists. Often people are hurrying and scurrying, often people seem excited or stressed. There is a race on to get everything done before Christmas.
  4. Bring out the Advent wreath or Advent candle and light a candle. Explain that this is the beginning of Advent, a time for us to prepare our hearts again to hear the Christmas message.

    It is difficult to be in a rush, to feel stressed and agitated when you are sitting in front of a candle. A candle is a soothing, quietening thing, a thing that brings light and stillness into our busy world.

    Our Advent candle reminds us that Light came into a dark world at Christmas. Our Advent candle reminds us to prepare our hearts once again for the coming hope of the world.

Time for reflection

Let us sit quietly for a few minutes in front of the candle and allow our hearts to be stilled.

Dear God,
At the beginning of the Advent season

we ask that you would help us be still and know you.
Thank you for this candle, which brings quietness and light,

and gentleness and stillness to our lives today.
Help us as the days ahead become busy and exciting

to remember the reason that you sent your son, Jesus, into this world.


‘Jesus Christ is here’ (Come and Praise, 26)

‘From the darkness came light’ (Come and Praise, 29)

Publication date: November 2009   (Vol.11 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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