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Wait for It . . .

Why do we have Advent?

by Becky May

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the value of waiting by considering Advent.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a chocolate Advent calendar and a timer.


  1. Good morning! I wonder how you are feeling this morning? This is a very exciting time of year; are you feeling excited?

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Why are you feeling excited?

    Invite the children to share their thoughts, encouraging them to talk about the Christmassy things that they are looking forward to.

  2. Of course, Christmas is an exciting time of year, but did you know that, for Christians, Christmas doesn’t start until something else ends? Do you know what that might be?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. The time of year before Christmas is called Advent.

    Show the chocolate Advent calendar.

    Perhaps you have one of these. Do you know what it is called? How does it work?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  4. Now, imagine you just couldn’t wait and instead of eating one chocolate each day, you ate them all at once. How would that be?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  5. With an Advent calendar, we only eat one chocolate each day. It means that we get to enjoy one small treat each day in the lead-up to the big treat of Christmas Day. It helps to remind us that we have to wait, that we can’t have everything at once. Let’s think about that a bit more.

  6. In a moment, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes and try to guess how long one minute is. When you think that a minute has passed, I want you to raise your hand. As you try to guess how long a minute is, I’m going to set a timer to show us how long it really is.

    Use the timer to play the game, asking the children to close their eyes, giving them a signal as to when they should begin counting and setting the timer. Make a note of the children who raise their hand at exactly one minute.

  7. Time is a tricky thing, isn’t it? Sometimes, we feel like we have more time than we really do to finish some work, perhaps, or to wait until Christmas. Just like the timer shows us how long one minute really is, the Advent calendar shows us how long Advent really is.

  8. During December, we get to enjoy some Christmassy things before we get to the main day, such as going to see Christmas lights being turned on or having Christmas dinner at school. What else do we get to enjoy in the build-up to Christmas?

    Invite the children to share some of the special events and activities that they are looking forward to, both at school - such as a nativity play - and outside school - such as putting up the Christmas tree.

  9. All of these things are wonderful for us to enjoy as we spread out the Christmas fun, but if we rush too quickly to the main event of Christmas Day, we miss out on the anticipation and the excitement. If we opened all the doors of the Advent calendar on 1 December and ate all the chocolates then, imagine how we would feel for every other day of Advent. We might feel a bit empty, like the Advent calendar!

    Looking forward to things and waiting for them to happen is a good thing because it helps us to enjoy and appreciate them when they happen. So, this Advent, let’s not rush to the end; let’s enjoy the waiting, too.

Time for reflection

For Christians, Advent is an important time in itself; it isn’t just about counting down the days to Christmas. Christians use this time to get ready to remember and celebrate the time when Jesus came down to earth.

Ask the children, ‘What does Christmas mean to each of us?’

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the children, ‘Just as we get our homes decorated for Christmas, how might we get ready to celebrate Jesus coming to earth?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Advent is a time of waiting. Mary had to wait for baby Jesus to be born, but also, the Bible tells us that the Jewish nation was waiting for a Messiah - someone who would come to rescue them - throughout the time before Jesus was born.

This Advent, let’s take some time to think about what that waiting means to us and how we can prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus coming into the world.

Dear God,
Thank you for this most special time of year, when we celebrate Jesus coming to earth.
As we decorate our homes, buy presents and write Christmas cards, help us to make ourselves ready to celebrate this very special time.
May our homes be filled with love and happiness this Christmas.


‘Countdown to Christmas’ (from the musical Countdown to Christmas by Mark and Helen Johnson, Out of the Ark Music)

‘Give us hope, Lord’ (Come and Praise, 87)

Publication date: November 2019   (Vol.21 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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