What is my Elementary Child Learning in December?

For the month of December, we’re sing a famous movie line and “Triple-Dog-Daring” kids to show compassion to the people around them and even across the world.

We define compassion like this: caring enough to do something about someone else’s need. But when it comes to compassion, no movie even comes close to the greatest story of all time, yep, THE Christmas story.

Think about it. The Creator of the universe, the one who made galaxies, solar systems, stars and planets, was attentive to His creation. He saw how sin had broken His people and His world. He saw and understood—more than we ever will—what the ultimate consequences of sin were for us. He saw our greatest need.

But God didn’t stop there. He did something about it. Jesus became one of us. Humbling Himself to be born as a tiny baby in a remote town in the dwelling place of animals. His birth announcement was sent first to a lowly group of shepherds and later to kings from a distant land. He lived as one of us, so that eventually He could die as atonement for our sin and be raised again on the third day so that we could also one day live forever with God in Heaven.

The Christmas story can really be summed up in one verse of Scripture. And this is the verse that we want every parent, every leader, and every child to memorize and carry with them the rest of their lives. Because there’s no other verse that can compare with what this verse says. It’s the essence not only of the Christmas story, but the essence of the story of Jesus. It’s found in John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life” (NIrV).

If you look at the Christmas story, it’s easy to see that one aspect of God’s character is compassion. God saw our greatest need, and He met it in the most remarkable way. To get kids thinking more about this we’re taking the entire Christmas season to talk about compassion and ask a different question each week to get kids and families thinking about how they can show compassion this Christmas.

WEEK 1

This week kids will discover that compassion starts with God. John wrote about God’s love in his first letter to the church. In 1 John 4:9-12, we read that God initiated compassion when He sent His only Son into the world to give His life for us. John goes on to challenge his audience to love others as God loves us.

Bottom Line: God loved you first. How will you love others? Every week this month, we’ll be asking our kids an important question to help them think more about showing compassion. We kick off the month thinking about how we can respond to God’s love for us and how we can love the people around us.

WEEK 2

For week two, we’ll head back to the book of Luke. If you start reading the Christmas story from the beginning, you hear about an angel who came to Mary. The Bible says this angel shows up after hundreds of years of God’s silence. But in the middle of that silence God was up to something huge. He had seen our greatest need and was doing something about it.

Bottom Line: God saw our greatest need. Whose needs do you see? We want to help children understand that compassion starts with recognizing a need. We’ll help them see the needs that impact their world and discover ways they can do something about them.

WEEK 3

In the most incredible part of this Christmas story, Jesus is born in Bethlehem. We don’t always think about it, but when you take time to understand that what’s really going on here, you discover it’s pretty amazing. This is the moment that God stepped onto the planet in the form of a human baby. God cared enough about our need not only to recognize it, but to send His Son to become like us so that He could do something about that need.

Bottom Line: God gave us the greatest gift. What will you give? Jesus is the greatest gift God could have ever given to us. In response to that gift, we challenge kids to answer this question, “What will you give?” In the season that more and more is all about what we can get, we want kids to think about how they can show compassion and give to others in need.

WEEK 4

We’ll close out the month remembering how angels startled a group of shepherds and their flocks. This choir of angels announced what was about to happen. God kept His promise and now everyone could have hope and joy knowing that God would rescue them. The shepherds who heard the message that night were never the same. They couldn’t wait to share that good news of great joy to everyone in town.

Bottom Line: God gave us great news. Who will you tell? This good news of God’s compassion is as powerful today as it was 2,000 years ago. We want kids to answer the question, “Who will you tell?” We will challenge them to think about the people in their lives who need to hear and experience God’s love through the message of Jesus.

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Spend Less :: Advent Conspiracy

We like gifts. Kids really like gifts. God knows that! In fact, He gave us the best gift ever when He gave us Jesus. God left heaven, became a man, and came to be with us! As Christmas approaches, we challenge your family to do the same— give your presence instead of simply giving lots of presents. The activity below is designed to help begin this conversation with your family.

In the spirit of Advent Conspiracy, we challenge you to:

Spend less money on gifts by giving the gift of time. Choose to be with others. When you buy gifts, choose them purposefully. 

Spend less time worrying about decorations. They don’t need to be perfect or new. Instead, decorate together and make fun memories!

Spend more time with others by loving, sharing, serving, giving, and being with those you love.

The activity below is designed to help you and your family begin to implement this new approach to Christmas!

What you need: Yellow paper, scissors and a marker.

What you do: Cut or fold a paper star. Write “God With Us!” on it then place it in a common spot in your house.

What you say: On the night Jesus was born, a big star appeared in the sky. An angel appeared to the shepherds to let them know God had come to be with His creation (Matthew 1:22-23). God came to Earth and is still with us. This is why we celebrate Christmas! When you see the star, thank God for coming to be with us and imagine ways you can spend meaningful time with others and also.

spend less

Elementary God Time Cards for December

Compassion is our virtue for the month of December in our elementary classes. Our goal is to help you, as parents, continue teaching your kids about compassion at home during the week. To help you do this, here’s a really helpful resource called God Time Cards. These are short devotions designed specifically for your elementary student. They are fun and engaging – we know you and your kids will love them!

Below you will find December’s God Time Cards to help your child continue learning about the importance of compassion in their life. Simply click below to get started! Have fun!

December Week 1                    December Week 2

December Week 3                   December Week 4

A New Kind of Advent Calendar

Hello!

Advent season is almost here, and with it, calendars filled with chocolates in the shapes of bells and snowmen. But, as you know, we at Antioch are conspiring to return to the original, most profound meaning of this season. We found an idea for a new kind of Advent calendar, one that celebrates the story of the very first Christmas! An Advent Art Journal contains 25 pages—blank except for a little blurb at the bottom describing the sequential events of Jesus’s arrival. The idea is that, each day of Advent, kids can read a new part of the Christmas story, and draw a picture of what they think it might have looked like. We think this is a fantastic way to immerse yourself and your kiddos in the amazing, TRUE story of Christmas!

We loved this idea so much that we decided to create one ourselves! We compiled it using text from the Jesus Storybook Bible (“He’s Here!“, “The Light of the Whole World,” & “The King of All Kings”), as well as passages from Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 (ESV and The Message). You can use our template, edit it, make your own, or buy the template from Anika’s blog on Etsy.

If you want to use our template, all you have to do is print this PDF, cut the pages, and bind them! For binding, you can use something as simple as staples, or get creative and punch holes in the side or top of the papers, then weave a ribbon through the holes.

Advent-Art-Journal-The-Handcrafted-Story

Presents vs. Presence

At Antioch Church, we are dreaming of doing Christmas better by spending less, giving more, loving all, and worshipping fully (click here to learn more). We want to equip you to enter Advent as a family. This blog post is designed to help you reimagine your approach to presents this Christmas season!

HOW IT WORKS:

1. Make your list.

Think of who you want to give a gift to this Christmas Season. Mom? Dad? Brother? Sister? Grandma? Grandpa? Neighbor? Friend?

2. Get Creative.

How can you give meaningful gifts to these people this Christmas? The goal is to give your presence and not just presents. After all, God showed us great love by coming to be with us on the first Christmas. We hope these ideas help you get started.

3. Give!

By spending less, yet giving gifts that are more valuable, you can give your leftover shopping money to people who are in need. For more info, click here. The goal is to show God’s love to all!

We know this is ambitious. Keep reading to find gift ideas that kids can both give and receive which lead to spending time with one another!

GIFT IDEAS:

  • Make a sightseeing guide for your city! Wrap it up and give it to someone on your list with an invitation to play tourist together, visiting sights you have yet to check out.
  • Compile a recipe book with your favorite family recipes! Wrap this gift and top it with an invitation to come to dinner and enjoy one of the delicious meals included in the book.

Cookbook

  • Pick out favorite pictures from the year and make a photo album! These are easy and fun to make using apps like Blurb Photo BooksArtifact Uprising, and more!
  • Make a video message and text or email it to a family member who lives far away.
  • Give grandparents a hand-decorated mug, then ask them to tell you the history of your family over hot cocoa or tea. Consider recording as they tell the story, then later writing it down and sharing it with the rest of the family.
  • Paint a picture, write a poem, or create another type of art to give to someone you love.
  • List the things you love about a person, then frame the list or deliver it as a letter. Or you can make a puzzle out of the piece of paper!

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  • Give creative coupons, such as “babysitting” for parents who could use a night out, “yard work” for an elderly person in your life, or “house project” for someone who could use a helping hand. The key is to give your time to help someone else! Click here for coupons you can give to mom and dad.
  • Make picture coasters! Glue your photos on the tiles. Spread epoxy evenly over each photo and tile. Let dry for 3-4 days. Attach a felt pad to the back of the coaster. Wrap the coasters and write a note about the pictures you chose! You might also consider also using maps of important places or your child’s art work.

Coasters, 1

  • Make a terrarium! You will need a transparent open-top container (such as a clean pasta jar or fish bowl). Fill the bottom with a 1.5 inch layer of small rocks to collect the water drainage. Add a 2.5 inch layer of potting soil made for succulents and cacti. Plant succulents and cacti by making a hole in the soil big enough for the roots then nestle the plant inside. Make a card which explains that succulents like direct sunlight every day and giving instructions to water the base every two weeks or once the soil dries out. Then, go on a walk together to find more treasures to add to the terrarium!

Terrarium

  • Fill a mason jar with a treat, such as popcorn kernels. Close the lid tightly, wrap a ribbon around the jar, then tie on a note which reads something like, “I think you will like this delicious treat. The only rule is that we must eat it together!”
  • Make a chalkboard! Find a old picture frame or a flat piece of wood. Spray with primer. Once it’s dry, apply two coats of chalkboard paint, which can be purchased at a home improvement store. Wrap it up, tie some chalk near the bow, and write kind notes to your family members each day!

Chalk board stump

  • Read a book together! Find a book that your whole family would enjoy. Wrap it up along with some hot chocolate mix or a special treat. Write a card explaining that the treat is meant to accompany story time as a family.
  • Make an “I Love You” deck of cards! Use an old deck of cards and write one thing you love about the recipient on the front of each card. Wrap them up and accompany the gift with instructions for a fun card game you can play together. Not only will it be a fun game night, but the recipient will feel very loved each time he or she reads the kind notes on the cards.
  • Make hand towels! Using white natural fabric towels, let kids decorate the towels with permanent markers, or with handmade potato stamps and paint! Once they are decorated, place a piece of brown paper over the art and iron the decorated area for two minutes on a non-steam setting.

Towel stamp, 2

  • Give a game! This might include a new ball, sports equipment, or a board game. Wrap it with a note that says, “Let’s play together!”
  • Make origami! Find a box then fill it with various designs of paper. Include a note that invites the recipient to fold origami with you while enjoying a tasty treat! For step-by-step and video instructions, click here
  • Give your child a truck or doll, and accompany the gift with an item that will make playtime more exciting if done together. For example, give a monster truck and a shovel so you can make ramps together. Or, give a doll and a small tea set and enjoy an imaginary tea party together!
  • Make winter hats! Use a round plastic knitting loom for an easy and low-stress process. Pick out yarn colors that the recipient will love and have fun.
  • If your child likes to cook, give a kids’ cookbook to your child. Include a note inviting him or her to pick a recipe to make with a loved one. Then, enjoy the yummy food together!
  • Make paper beads! Begin by cutting paper into long, skinny triangles—consider recycled paper such as newspaper or magazines. The base of the triangle will be the width of the bead. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle around a toothpick. Roll tightly and try to avoid having space between the layers. Finish rolling, then glue the tip of the triangle to the rolled paper. Hold it for a moment to help the glue set. Repeat to create more beads, then apply a varnish. When dry, string beads to create a necklace, bracelet, or key chain!

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As you reimagine Christmas, consider some of these fun, relational traditions!

TRADITION IDEAS:

  • Gather all of your spare change during the month of December and put it in a jar. Then give it to a single parent, someone who is homeless, or a family in need at the end of the month, knowing that God loves this person and is with him or her, too!
  • Buy one Christmas tree ornament for your child each year that symbolizes one of their interests or strengths. Over the years, remind your child of the great qualities you see in him or her as you hang the ornaments on the tree together!
  • Read The Jesse Tree and encounter the Christmas Story in a fresh and engaging manner. Use this printable to print a picture of each item on the tree and capture your child’s imagination while you read!

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  • Create an “I Love You” scavenger hunt. Write different things you love about a person on individual pieces of paper then seal each in an envelope. Hide them around the house then invite the recipient to search for the envelopes. This is a really fun thing to do while Christmas breakfast is cooking!
  • Create a thankfulness jar. Decorate it and give it to your family, along with little pieces of paper. All year long, family members can write things they are thankful for and ways they observed or experienced God. At the end of the year, read together all the ways you saw God working throughout the year!
  • Create an Advent Art journal. Each day, draw a small part of the Christmas story together as a family. Enter the story with your creativity and imagination! We made our own template, available here.
  • Modify the popular Elf on the Shelf tradition by making a Kindness Elf who invites a child to show kindness to others.These ideas will help get you started!

Kindness-Elf-Alternative-Tradition-666x1000 (1)

  • Give a warm coat to a shelter or someone in need. Write a happy note and leave it in the pocket.
  • Buy some food for a homeless person—and maybe for yourself, too—and ask if you can join them, sitting and talking with them while eating.
  • Make Christmas cards for your neighbors. When you deliver a card, introduce yourself and try to find one thing you and your neighbor have in common. When you get home, write down their names so you can greet them the next time you see them!
  • Write a note and mail it to the people who have decorated their houses with beautiful Christmas lights, saying “thank you.”
  • Make it a family challenge to introduce yourself to someone new during this season.
  • Invite someone outside your family to Christmas dinner or another special occasion.

We’re so excited about embracing the idea of ‘presence’ rather than ‘presents’ this Christmas. We would love to hear your stories as you try these ideas or come up with your own. Happy conspiring!

How to Explain Advent to Kids

As we approach the Christmas season, we invite you and your family to participate in Advent! Below you will find information designed to help you explain Advent to your child.

What is Advent? Advent is the season that starts four Sundays before Christmas Day. This year, it begins on Sunday, November 29th. It is a season of preparation helping us reflect on the birth of Jesus and anticipate his return.

Advent is about two things:

  1. Anticipating Christmas :: Remembering that God become man and entered our world so that the world could know Him!
  2. Anticipating Christ’s Return :: Putting the story of baby Jesus in the broader context of the Big Story of God’s work in our world. The story doesn’t start and end with Jesus being born!

Two storytellers tell us about the night of Jesus’ birth. One is named Matthew, and his book is called Matthew (creative, I know!). He begins the story of Jesus’ life by telling the listeners and readers about Jesus’s family line. He rewinds all the way back to Abraham, showing that Jesus’ arrival fits within God’s whole plan for creation.

Luke tells us the same story but takes Jesus’ family line back even further to Adam! Both stories are saying: “Look! This is planned. It isn’t random. God’s words are true. God keeps His promises. We can count on God!”

Advent isn’t just about celebrating Christmas or just about baby Jesus. It is a reminder that God’s plans are big and good—Jesus coming is a part of a Big Story!

What is the “Big Story”? I am glad you asked!

Everything was Good: God created the world and said it was so good! It was full of shalom, the kind of peace that makes everything work, everything beautiful, and everything good. The world was made for human flourishing, where people would know and love God and one another forever! It was perfect!

The Big Whoops: God’s greatest enemy told a sneaky little lie and God’s good creation was ruined because Adam and Eve didn’t choose to believe God. The sneaky little lie continues to be whispered to us still, saying “God doesn’t love you” or “God doesn’t know best.” When we choose to believe this lie, we declare ourselves God’s enemy. We don’t often realize we are doing this because everyone around us does it, also. This is a big whoops!

The Great Rescue:  The penalty for sin is death, but God loved his creation so much that he decided to stand in the place of our penalty. He chose to become a person—he was named Jesus and born in a stinky stable surrounded by farm animals. He grew up and showed the world how to live like God desires. Jesus cared about people—even those who were hard to love, like the smelly, needy ones. Jesus obeyed God and trusted his words, even when it was hard. And when Jesus was 33 years old, he was killed on a cross because some important, powerful people didn’t like him and also didn’t like that so many people were following him. But Jesus didn’t stay dead! Our God is more powerful than death. He rose after 3 days! He paid the price for our sin! He rescued His creation!

So Much Hope: Jesus showed the world that that God loves His creation. His love is so extreme that he came to the rescue of a really messy story! He did this because he wants everyone to believe that God is real, trust his words, obey his instructions, love others, and work towards making this world as it should be. And in the end, God will purge the world of evil once and for all!

This story teaches us how to celebrate during the Christmas season. It teaches us to worship fully by choosing to celebrate our king with every breath. It teaches us to spend less because we have already been given the greatest gift: Jesus! It teaches us to give more just like Jesus did—he gave himself! Spend time with those you love! And finally, to love all by noticing the needs of others and doing something to help.

Click below to watch a short video with your kids about God’s Big Story by Gospel Project Kids. This year, we invite you and your family to participate in Advent in order to remember what God has done and anticipate what God is still doing in His great creation!

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Elementary God Time Cards for November

Antioch Kids is all about service in our elementary classes this month. Service means: lending a hand to help someone else.  It’s our goal here at Antioch to equip parents and care givers to continue the conversation about service at home. To help you do this, we want to provide you with this great resource called God Time Cards. These short devotions are designed for kids to do during the week. They are fun and engaging – and we hope you and your elementary child will love them!

Below you will find the God Time Cards for November to help your child continue learning about the importance of service and what it means to lend a helping hand to someone else. Simply click below to get started! Enjoy!

God Time Card Week 1          God Time Card Week 2

God Time Card Week 3          God Time Card Week 4

God Time Card Week 5