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An Advent Acrostic

Exploring the meaning of Advent

by Alexandra Palmer

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To use an acrostic based on the word ‘Advent’ to explain the season’s meaning.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children whether they have an Advent calendar and ask them to describe it.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Show Slide 1.

    Explain that there are many different types of Advent calendar. To begin with, Advent calendars simply had pictures behind the doors; now, however, there are many different types: ones with chocolate, ones in which we place our own presents - even cheese ones!

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

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Explain that you are going to use a type of poem called an acrostic to explain the meaning.

  3. Show Slide 2.

    Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas. This year, it starts on Sunday 28 November. It is all about preparing for the arrival of a special day. For Christians, this day celebrates the arrival of a special baby.

    Ask the children, ‘What is the special day called? What is the name of the special baby?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    (The answers that you are looking for are ‘Christmas Day’ and ‘Jesus’.)

  4. Ask the children, ‘What sort of preparations do people make for Christmas?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Suggestions may include buying presents, putting up Christmas decorations, decorating a Christmas tree, making a Christmas cake and buying food to eat for Christmas Day and the rest of the holiday.

  5. Show Slide 3.

    Explain that most of Advent happens in December. Advent calendars help us to count down the days until Christmas Day on 25 December. This is normally a busy month as families and friends prepare for Christmas and get together for celebrations.

    Sometimes, children visit Father Christmas in December, or he might even visit a school or a party! There are also pantomimes and Nativity plays to perform or watch. Many local churches hold carol services and a Christingle service to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

  6. Show Slide 4.

    Ask the children, ‘What colour is violet a shade of?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    (The answer that you are looking for is ‘purple’.)

    Explain that there are many shades of purple, including violet, lilac, mulberry, orchid, iris, lavender, mauve and plum.

    During Jesus’ time, purple dye was expensive to make, so purple clothes were only worn by the very rich or royalty. The Bible tells us that Jesus was very important, yet when he was a baby, Jesus never had any purple clothes to wear. Instead, he was born in a stable, slept in a manger surrounded by animals and his first visitors were shepherds. This showed that Jesus was here for the poor, the lonely and the sick, not just royalty and rich people.

  7. Show Slide 5.

    Explain that we all have our own name, but sometimes, we might be given a friendly nickname or have our name shortened to something else. In the Bible, Jesus has many names, which all mean different things. One of these names is Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’. Other names for Jesus are Son of God, Almighty, Creator, Shepherd, Holy Servant, King of Kings, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, Son of Man, Yahweh, Word of God and Light of the World.

  8. Show Slide 6.

    Explain that when we stand near someone, it means that we are close to them. Christians believe that one of the reasons why Jesus came as a baby was so that God could show us how much he cared about the world. He wanted to be close to us.

  9. Show Slide 7.

    Explain that for Christians, Advent is a time to prepare, wait and think about why they celebrate Christmas. It is a time to think about the birth of baby Jesus, who is God’s son.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to look at the acrostic on Slide 7 as they think about the following questions.

- During Advent, what are the main preparations that we might be able to help with for the arrival of Christmas?

Pause to allow time for thought. You may also wish to listen to a range of responses.

- During the busy month of December, what can we do to celebrate Christmas?

Pause to allow time for thought. You may also wish to listen to a range of responses.

- (Optional) Which of Jesus’ names is the most special to you? (You may wish to reread the names in the list in the ‘Assembly’, Step 7.)

Listen to a range of responses.

- What do you think the name ‘Jesus’ means? (The answer is that ‘Jesus’ means ‘to deliver, save or rescue’.)

Listen to a range of responses.

- Why do you think that meaning is significant?

Listen to a range of responses.

Christians believe that Jesus was born to help rescue people because when he was 33 years old, he died on the cross to take the punishment for the wrong things that people do. This means that we can be forgiven.

Dear God,
Thank you for Advent and for the time that we have to prepare for the arrival of Christmas.
Thank you that we can use December to see friends and family and enjoy our time with them.
Thank you for the birth of baby Jesus and for the Nativity story.
During this season of Advent, please help us to take the time to remember why Jesus was born.


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

Extension activities

  1. Give each child a copy of the sheet that accompanies this assembly (An Advent Acrostic - Extension Activity). Ask them to colour in the letters and then illustrate the word ‘Advent’.
  2. Ask the children to create their own Christmas acrostic by using an alternative Christmassy word.
Publication date: December 2021   (Vol.23 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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