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The Great ADVENTure

Peggy Emerson


WEEK FOUR
Storytime Station: History Worth Repeating -- Kids love to gather 'round and listen to the first Christmas retold in books. Here are a few new favorites you can use to kindle kids' excitement for the Christmas story.

Tell Me the Christmas Story by Joni Walker. This board book illustrates Jesus' birth for little ones. $4.99, Concordia Publishing House, 800-325-3040; www.cph.org

Cow and the Christmas Surprise by Todd Aaron Smith. Cow and her barnyard friends learn about Christmas. $7.99, Baker Book House Publishing Company, 800-877-2665; www.bakerbooks.com

Touch and Feel Baby Jesus Is Born. A child's first introduction to the Nativity in a touch-and-feel board book format. $10.99, Kregel Kidzone, 800-733-2607; www.kregel.com

A Christmas Journey by Susie Poole. Poole offers a unique retelling of Jesus' birth, beginning with Adam and Eve. $11.99, Standard Publishing,
800-543-1301; www.standardpub.com

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer. Kids learn how the legend of St. Nick has its roots in history. $12.99, Concordia Publishing House, 800-325-3040; www.cph.org

The Candle in the Window by Grace Johnson. Join a lonely German cobbler for a Christmas miracle and lesson. $16.99, Fleming H. Revell, 800-877-2665; www.bakerbooks.com

My Merry Christmas and the Real Reason for Christmas Joy by Sally Lloyd Jones. Discover clues to the real meaning of Christmas with this board book. $9.99, Standard Publishing, 800-543-1301, www.standardpub.com

Go Tell It on the Mountain by Debbie Trafton O'Neal. This picture and activity book helps adults teach this old song to children. $8.99, Augsburg Books, 800-328-4648, www.augsburgbooks.com

Hands-On Learning Station: What's In a Name?-Names become our identity, the way we think of ourselves. Help kids discover how powerful names are with this giggle-inducing activity.

You'll need self-adhesive name tags, markers, and a Bible.

Have kids sit in a circle. Say, "We're going to try an experiment. How important is your name to you? Can you imagine what it would be like if you had another name? Explain. Do you know why or how you got your name? Explain."

Write each child's name on a name tag. Give the name tags to the wrong children and have them stick the tags to their shirts where they're visible. Say, "We're going to play Pass the Bible. Whenever you get the Bible, you have to pass it to the person sitting next to you."

Demonstrate by passing the Bible to your neighbor. Say, "Hi (person's new name), I'm new name. Here's a gift from me to you." You'll use the name on your name tag and the name on your neighbor's name tag, not your correct names. Pass the Bible around the circle. Then have kids take off their name tags. The object is for everyone to remember the new wrong names. Play again, speeding up each round.

Ask, "How easy or difficult was it to remember the wrong name? How did it feel to be called by the wrong name? Why are names so important to us?"

Read aloud Matthew 1:23. Ask, "Why do you think God chose for his son to be named Jesus? How did Jesus' name represent him? What does Jesus' name mean to you?"

Craft Station: Eternal Experience -- Decorate your church with these simple wreaths. You'll need premade grapevine wreaths, gold ribbon, white card stock strips, a hole punch, pencils, a thesaurus, and gold glitter pens.

Form groups of three. Have each group decorate its grapevine wreath with words that mean eternal. Have each group look up "eternal" in a thesaurus and write the synonyms they find on card stock strips. Kids can curl the strips by wrapping them around a pencil. Punch holes in ends of the strips and attach them to the wreaths with gold ribbon.

Have kids select the locations where they'd like to hang their wreaths in the church. As a closing for the weekly program, go in groups or all together to hang the wreaths. Then pray for the entire church to experience eternity in their hearts this season.

Make the final week of your ADVENTure program a dress rehearsal -- complete with all adult singers, narrators, and extras. Wrap up this week with a big birthday party for Jesus, complete with pizza, cake, and games. (For fun Christmas games, go to www.cmmag.com.)

End your ADVENTure program with the presentation to the congregation. The fruit of your efforts won't end in the stage presentation, though. Just think of how children now understand the concepts they're singing about or acting out. And they'll know they've ministered, not just performed!

By tossing out the boring old rehearsal routine, you've created a new tradition -- one that has the flexibility to change with the times and the children in your ministry!

Peggy Emerson is a children's minister in Hamilton, Ohio.

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