Patricia Ainge, Kevin Mayhew, 2011

£13.99 (Approx)
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What does it say on the tin?

An Advent Course for Children

Gift is a six-week course which helps children prepare for Christmas.

Using a theme which is familiar to them at this time of year, that of gift, it leads them through an exploration of what the birth of Jesus means for them today.

Led by adults, the course is organised so that each week the children consider a different aspect of gift. They listen to the word of God and then respond to it in a variety of creative ways. Clearly structured so that it is easy to follow, the course provides a reflective balance to the feverish, external preparation for Christmas, offering an opportunity to reflect on the meaning behind the tinsel.

What do you get?

6 week course with notes for leaders, resources to photocopy and a CD-ROM with the weekly colouring/craft resources for print.

Who is it for?

Children aged 4 – 10 years


  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Material is laid out clearly in a consistent format. Text is in quite a sizeable font and resources for sessions are clear and relevant but very simple.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Not explicitly stated in each session. Vaguely mentioned in the introductory notes for leaders.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Very easy to understand and follow.

    Who could lead it?

    Experienced children's leaders and small group leaders. The children need a main leader who is knowledgable and relevant for them.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    Relevant to the 6 week course, but very simple. They can be taken away by children to keep. Crafts are slightly less generic.

    How good is any digital material?

    Digital material is present in the form of external media, for example, in one session a clip from Aladdin is used. The CD-ROM provides pdf resource formats for printing.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Preparation will involve getting team members and collecting relevant resources for sessions, these are outlined at the beginning of each session so that practical prep is clear. Leaders also have the recommended option of completing the ‘Personal Reflection' starter for each lesson. This gives them an opportunity to understand what they are about to teach the children and to pray together.

    Is there website support?

    Links? N/A

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Interaction is mostly encouraged during the ‘Response' phase where children get hands on and respond to what they have learnt. The leader is encouraged to interact with the children the whole time, especially during the ‘Exploration' phase where children are offered an opportunity to give their thoughts on the story and ask questions.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Learning during the craft section varies as the children apply what they have learnt to drawings, discussions and crafts. They also have visual stimuli of video clips related to what they are learning, and sound clips too. These are all effective methods, however there is also quite a large emphasis on children learning through listening so some children may need measures in place to keep focussed.

    How adaptable is it to my situation? 6 week series for the Advent season.

    The leader's book does not explicitly state the running time for sessions as this is dependent on how many activities the leader wants to include in their session. The course can be completed in a session during a church environment or can be done as several sessions in school with activities running at different points in the week. The course can be run as a whole big group or in individual small groups and leaders can add in more discussion questions for older age ranges. Session layout goes as follows: Personal Reflection (for leaders prior to session), Welcome, Opening Prayer, Introduction, Open the Box, Word of God, Exploration, Response, Closing Prayer.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Children apply the material during the ‘Response' section. This needs to be encouraged and prepared by leaders. Furthermore, children are asked questions and given an opportunity to discuss stories and topics during the ‘Exploration' section.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Approximately 20%, however this is not directly delivered as a Bible passage, the book outlines its own narrative for stories.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Bible material is presented by being read out, by either the leader or a child. This is then applied by discussion, work sheet completion and making crafts.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Done during ‘Word of God' section. as children are asked how they might respond had they been present. They are also asked how they should respond to the story in how they act and conduct themselves. Leaders may choose to add more questions specific to the group during these sections.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    No, open to all. Based on importance of Jesus' birth and the gifts God gives us.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    Not a huge focus, as the children are learning about the basis of the Christian faith and how it came about.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    Children learn that God is for everyone, and are given the opportunity to discuss topics in a safe environment. Children are also given space to ask questions and to pray.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    Whole focus is on significance of Jesus' birth and God's special love for humans over all other creation.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Does this, but lightly, in the exploration phase. For example, children are asked why they think Jesus liked Zacchaeus when nobody else did, and can think about how they treat people they may not like.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Not a main focus, but does tell children that Jesus is for everyone in session 6 by explaining that some of His first visitors - the Wise Men - were not Jews.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Not a focus.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Not a focus.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Again, does this by telling children that Jesus is for everyone in session 6 by explaining that some of His first visitors - the Wise Men - were not Jews.

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