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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.
6 week course with notes for leaders, resources to photocopy and a CD-ROM with the weekly colouring/craft resources for print.
Children aged 4 – 10 years
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.
Not explicitly stated in each session. Vaguely mentioned in the introductory notes for leaders.
Very easy to understand and follow.
Experienced children's leaders and small group leaders. The children need a main leader who is knowledgable and relevant for them.
Relevant to the 6 week course, but very simple. They can be taken away by children to keep. Crafts are slightly less generic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Approximately 20%, however this is not directly delivered as a Bible passage, the book outlines its own narrative for stories.
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.
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.
No, open to all. Based on importance of Jesus' birth and the gifts God gives us.
Not a huge focus, as the children are learning about the basis of the Christian faith and how it came about.
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.
Whole focus is on significance of Jesus' birth and God's special love for humans over all other creation.
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.
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.
Not a focus.
Not a focus.
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.