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Pause for Thought in the Classroom: the JOY of Advent

Advent leads to Christmas

by Alexandra Palmer

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To use the word JOY to help explain the meaning of Advent.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show Slide 1.

    Explain that the words in the boxes are synonyms for the words ‘happy’ and ‘sad’. Read through them and then ask the children to sort the words into those that are similar in meaning to ‘happy’ and those that are similar in meaning to ‘sad’.

    Optional: you may wish to ask the children to write down their answers; otherwise, you can ask them to remember them.
  2. Show Slide 2.

    Go through the answers, explaining the meaning of any tricky words. If there is time, ask the children to suggest a sentence that uses one of the words on the slide.

  3. Show Slide 3.

    Ask the children, ‘Which other word can we use for happy that has three letters?’ (Answer: joy)

    If the children are struggling, offer some hints. You could try using the following clues.

    - It’s a word used on Christmas cards.
    - It’s sometimes used in Christmas carols.
    - It contains one vowel and two consonants.
    - It rhymes with ‘toy’ and ‘boy’.

  4. Show Slide 4.

    When we are explaining how happy we feel, we can use the word joy or add the suffix -ful to create the word joyful’.

    Ask the children whether they can use the word joy’ or joyful in a sentence.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  5. Explain that we can use the words ‘joy’ or ‘joyful’ to describe the season of Advent.

    Ask the children, ‘What does the word “Advent” mean?’

    Explain that Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas. Many people use Advent calendars to help them count down the days until Christmas.

  6. Explain that the word ‘JOY’ helps Christians to remember why they celebrate Christmas.

    Ask the children what they think the letter ‘J’ might stand for in the word ‘JOY’.

    Show Slide 5.

    Explain that for Christians, Advent is a time to prepare, wait and think about the real meaning of Christmas: the birth of baby Jesus.

  7. Ask the children what they think the letter ‘O’ might stand for in the word ‘JOY’.

    Show Slide 6.

    Explain that the ‘O’ in ‘JOY’ stands for Others. During the season of Advent, it is important to think about others and how we can help them.

    Ask the children, ‘How can we help others?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Point out that when we help others, they can experience joy.

  8. Ask the children what they think the letter ‘Y’ might stand for in the word ‘JOY’.

    Show Slide 7.

    Explain that the ‘Y’ in ‘JOY’ stands for Yourself.

    Ask the children, ‘How can we be joyful ourselves?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

Time for reflection

Ask the children, ‘When thinking about the Nativity, who do you think experienced joy?’

Listen to a range of responses.

Suggestions could include:

- Mary and Joseph
- the angels who sang to the shepherds
- b
aby Jesus’ visitors: the shepherds and the three wise men
God (Jesus’ father in heaven)

Dear God,
Thank you for all the joyful moments that we have experienced even when times have been tough.
Thank you for all the times when we have helped people out and seen the joy that they have experienced.
Thank you for the birth of baby Jesus and the joy that this has given people.
Please help us to experience joy this Christmas.


‘Away in a manger’, available at: (1.59 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. Using the sheet that accompanies this assembly (The JOY of Advent - extension activity), colour in the word ‘JOY’ (Jesus, Others, Yourself) and then illustrate the words in some way.

  2. Why not have a go at making up an acrostic for the word ‘JOYFUL’?
Publication date: December 2020   (Vol.22 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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