The weeks leading up to Christmas are packed with excitement and tradition for kids in your ministry. You can inject even more hope, love, joy, and peace into this blessed season with the eight awesome ideas in this section. Add an extra dose of festivity and faith—and grow kids’ excitement as the celebration surrounding the birth of Jesus approaches.
1. Agent Angels
Use this game to show kids they can pass along God’s message of hope.
- a large room or playing field
Say: In the Bible, angels often came to give people messages of hope from God—like when the angel came to tell Mary and Joseph that Mary was going to have God’s Son. Let’s play a game to help us think about how we can pass along God’s message of hope.
Choose one child for every five or fewer kids in your group to be an Agent Angel, and have those kids stand in the middle of the play area. The rest of the children will pretend to be Mary or Joseph, and they’ll stand along one wall. When the Agent Angels call “The Lord is with you!” as the angels did in Luke 1:28, the Marys and Josephs will try to cross the room and get to the opposite wall without being touched by an Angel. (The Marys and Josephs avoid the angels because they were afraid when they first saw the angel.) If an Angel touches a Mary or Joseph, he or she will say “Hope in God’s promises” to that person, and that person becomes a part of the Agent Angel team. When anyone joins the Agent Angel team, he or she can tag Marys or Josephs and repeat the Agent Angels’ message. Continue rounds until all the children are on the Agent Angel team. Play the game a couple of times.
- In our game, we shared God’s hope with others by touching them. In real life, what are ways we can share God’s hope with others?
2. A Taste of Hope
Use this craft to encourage children to practice sharing the hope of Jesus’ birth with others.
- gold or silver- colored markers;
- small, sticky-back googly eyes;
- white-colored snacks, such as white popcorn, mini marshmallows, or white M&M’s;
- and for each child:
- 1 clothespin,
- 1 resealable sandwich bag,
- and 1 gold or silver chenille wire
Show kids how to make angel-shaped snacks using these instructions.
- Color the clothespins gold or silver.
- Add googly eyes near the top of the clip section.
- Fill the bags with snacks, leaving enough room so the bag can be pinched together in the center and placed inside the clip to look like angel wings.
- Show kids how to make a halo by twisting a chenille wire around your finger. Leave about half an inch untwisted and put it in the clip so the halo floats over the angel’s “head.”
Say: Think about someone who might not know about Jesus’ birth. Pause. Give this gift to that person. When you do, tell about Jesus’ birth and how he brings you hope. Help children brainstorm ways Jesus brings them hope. For example, they might say, “Jesus brings me hope when I feel sad,” or “Jesus came to earth because he loves us.”
3. Wise Man Bananas
Use this snack when kids are learning about the wise men who traveled so far to see baby Jesus.
- a Bible;
- plastic knives;
- chocolate sprinkles;
- and for each child:
- 1 banana,
- 3 cake pop sticks,
- 3 strawberries,
- 3Trolli O’s candies,
- 3 M&M’s,
- 1 Fruit by the Foot,
- and 3 jumbo marshmallows
Say: God guided the wise men to baby Jesus with a star so they could show their love to him and offer gifts on the first Christmas. Read Matthew 2:9-11. Let’s make wise men snacks to remind us of how the wise men loved Jesus and traveled very far just to see him.
Using the photos as a guide, demonstrate how to make three unique wise men using one-third of a banana for each wise man. As kids assemble the snacks, lead them in sharing about times at church or with other Christians when they’ve felt joy.
4. Jumping Baby
Use this craft to remind children that Jesus’ message of hope can make us jump with love and excitement.
- a Bible;
- a hole punch;
- and for each child:
- 1 bead,
- 7 brads,
- and 1 “Jumping Baby” pattern (download here)
Read aloud Luke 1:39-44. Say: Elizabeth’s baby was still in her belly and even he knew when baby Jesus was nearby! That’s because Jesus brought love to the whole world. Elizabeth’s baby jumped inside her belly!
Explain to kids that they’ll be making a jumping baby craft to remind them of the love that Jesus brought to the world when he was born on the first Christmas.
Guide kids as they follow the instructions on the “Jumping Baby” pattern.
- Have kids trace and then cut out the cardboard body pieces.
- Punch holes on the pieces as directed.
- Insert the brads as directed.
- Following the instructions, have the kids tie yarn to the baby’s arms and legs to make them jump.
- Add a bead to the yarn piece at the bottom for greater control.
- Add a piece of yarn to the brad at the back of the baby’s head so it can hang on the wall or be held from above.
Show kids how to pull on the yarn to make the baby’s arms and legs jump, and have them repeat Luke 1:44 as they do so.
- What are some things you love most about Jesus?
- How does Jesus’ love help you every day?
Use this experience to help kids think about the joy surrounding Jesus’ birth.
- a Bible,
- butcher paper,
- What are things you do when you feel joyful?
Say: Jesus’ birth brought joy to many people, and an angel brought the good news of his coming birth to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Today when we talk about the joy of Jesus’ birth, we know the angels delivered the news of that joy. Let’s make angel wings as a reminder of their joyful role when Jesus was born.
- Have kids each lie on their bellies on a sheet or section of butcher paper.
- Each child will need enough room to extend his or her arms fully in every direction. Give each child a few crayons for each hand.
- Show kids how to create half-circle “angel wings” on the paper while joyfully clapping their fists together above their heads.
- Placing the crayon tips on the paper, they’ll extend their arms above their heads.
- Next, they’ll swing their arms down to their sides, keeping the crayon tips on the paper and their arms extended.
- Have kids repeat this stroke numerous times to create angel wing.
Read Luke 2:8-11. Ask:
- What are some reasons Jesus’ birth makes you feel joyful?
For each reason, let children draw another layer on their wings.
Have children get up and admire their designs. Say: Jesus brings us all joy—his love impacts all of us. We can be thankful for his birth and for the angels who delivered the good news to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds!
6. Colors of Joy Spinners
Use this craft as a reminder that we can have joy like the wise men did when they saw the star that led them to Jesus.
- large circular lids,
Say: We know there was a star above where Jesus was born that helped the wise men find him. Let’s make some star designs.
Have kids each use a lid to trace a cardstock circle and then cut it out. Have them decorate both sides of the circles using several colors, and have them include stars in their designs. For example, they can make one big star across the whole circle, draw several random stars, or create patterns of stars.
Lead kids to poke two holes close together in the center of their circles and thread about 32 inches of yarn through one hole and then back through the second hole. Have them tie the loose ends together. Then they’ll pull the string loop so there’s an equal length of yarn on each side.
Say: Our craft can remind us that Jesus brings us joy. Show kids how to hold the ends of the loops and move their arms in a circular motion to twist the strands of yarn. When the strands are tightly twisted, have kids quickly pull the ends against each other; the circle will spin, and the designs kids made will have a different appearance.
7. The Match Hunt
Use this game to help kids reflect on the shepherds’ search for Jesus.
- a Bible,
- a deck of playing cards
Say: When the shepherds heard about Jesus, they ran to find him. And they knew what to look for—the angels gave them a sign. Read aloud Luke 2:12. Let’s play a game to help us think about their experience.
First, form four teams, and have each team stand in line against a different wall. Then split the deck of cards into four piles (one per group), and set them face down in the center of the room, leaving room between piles The kids who are first in line will race to the center. While teams watch, kids will flip the group’s pile of cards one by one and lay them on the ground until a match is discovered. Matches can be numbers or face cards and can be made from any team’s faceup cards. When a child discovers a match, he or she will yell “Sign!” The child in the center will run back to the team with the matching cards and tag the next child in line, who’ll repeat the process. As cards get flipped, more opportunities for matches will occur. The goal is to have the most matches at the end.
- What was this game like for you?
- Describe how you felt at the end when we’d found all the matches.
- Tell about a time you felt anxious. What brought you peace?
- How can you go to Jesus when you need peace?
8. Nativity Snack
- a Bible;
- and for each child:
- a plate,
- 4 pretzel sticks,
- 1 baby bell pepper or baby carrot,
- 1 piece of string cheese,
- and 1⁄2 kiwi peeled and chopped into tiny pieces
Say: Today we’re going to create a nativity scene with our snacks. Read aloud Luke 2:7a, and show kids how to pull the string cheese apart to create “strips of cloth” in which to wrap the baby (baby bell pepper or baby carrot).
Read Luke 2:7b, and show kids how to make a box using the pretzel sticks to place baby Jesus in. Next, have kids add the chopped kiwi around the box to represent the ground.
- What seems peaceful to you about this scene?
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