Preparing Your Preschooler for Christmas

Want a few ideas to help prepare your preschool age child for Christmas? Sure you do, and I’ll give you a few thoughts as to why.

Most of us realize that we live in a time and place in which it can be extremely difficult to keep the proper perspective on the significance of Christmas. We’re inundated with influences that draw our attention away from the gracious gift of God becoming one of us for our salvation. That being said, we might be less aware that those messages make their way even to our preschoolers. It’s a given that they will be beginning to develop their understanding of Christmas. The only real question is who or what will have the most influence in that process.

By regularly exposing into our youngest children the story of Jesus’ birth in creative ways, we can make a lot of headway in the right direction. Yes, it’s true that my almost three-year-old will not come out of this season with a full grasp of Christmas. But by becoming familiar with the basic story, he’ll be developing a framework on which he’ll be able to hang more and more understanding as he gets older.

One more thing: many of us are discouraged when we think about teaching our kids biblical truths. We’re tempted to leave those things to those we consider to be more knowledgeable and/or better teachers. But consider just two things in response. First, no one has more potential to make an impression on these youngest children than you do as a parent. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Second, you might be surprised at how much you gain from trying to teach your kids.

For these reasons and more, Crossing Kids will be sending home a packet this Sunday with preschool age kids called “The Greatest Story Ever.” It’s designed to help you creatively reinforce what the kids are being taught on Sunday mornings during the Christmas season.

In addition, my wife Rachel has come up with a few more simple ideas that we’ll be trying out in our own household on a regular basis over the coming weeks. I’ll pass on the plan for this week in this post, and Rachel will post further ideas each Sunday for the next three weeks. I’ll turn it over to her:

Because toddlers and preschoolers learn best through repetition and simple hands-on activities, our family plans to focus on one aspect of the Christmas story each week. I’ve come up with short, experiential activities that I think will work for my toddler and preschooler, at least to some extent. You know your children best, though, so feel free to adapt and/or come up with your own activities that reinforce the Bible story.

Week 1: The Birth of Jesus (Nov. 30-Dec 5)

1. Share the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and Jesus’ birth. Here are a few good ways to communicate the story:

  • If you don’t have one of these books, read Luke 2:1-7 yourself and share it with your child or children in your own words.

2. We plan to do one of these activities most days following the Bible story reading:

  • Play with a nativity set or whatever toys work around your house to make your own. (We pulled out the Little People horse stable and some pieces from our Little People house set to creative our own nativity scene. We don’t emphasize the fact that our Joseph has a cell phone!) Act out the story with the nativity pieces.
  • Wrap a baby doll in cloths and lay him in a “manger” (i.e. a box). You might even want to pull some grass (i.e. hay) and put in the manger. Talk about how Jesus—God’s son–was born as a baby on Christmas Day and placed in a manger. A manger was a feeding trough for barn animals.
  • Dress up as different characters from the story using sheets over your head and robes and acting out the story together. Ideas for characters: donkey, Mary, Joseph, inn keeper, animals from the stable. Your child will love being Joseph as he pulls the “donkey” or Mary as she rides on the “donkey”.
  • Pull out all your stuffed or toy animals around the house. Ask kids the animals’ names, what sound they make, and if they may have been at the stable when Jesus, God’s Son, was born. Kids (and parents) may even want to pretend to be the different animals in the stable.
  • Color or watercolor paint a picture or Christmas ornament of the nativity scene as you talk about the story together.

Week Two: The Shepherds

Week Three: The Wise Men

Week Four: Review all three parts of the story

 

*Originally posted Dec. 1, 2009

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