I just wanted to share the Advent Reading & Activity Plan I made to do with my toddler this year (she'll be 22 months old when we do it). I've had several friends ask me for the plan when I told them about it, so I thought others might like to have it as a resource, as well. Feel free to use, not use, or modify whatever you want.
The Reading Plan:
Here's the reading calendar I made (based on the Jesus Storybook Bible). We'll read those, along with the Bible verses listed, at dinner with Daddy as our family devotional time.
November 29: The Story & The Song | Psalm 19 | CANDLE 1
November 30: The Story & The Song | Psalm 19
December 1: The Story & The Song | Hebrews 1
December 2: The Beginning: A Perfect Home | Genesis 1
December 3: The Beginning: A Perfect Home | Genesis 1
December 4: The Beginning: A Perfect Home | Genesis 2
December 5: The Terrible Lie | Genesis 3
December 6: The Terrible Lie | Genesis 3 | CANDLE 2
December 7: God to the Rescue | Exodus 11
December 8: God to the Rescue | Exodus 12
December 9: God to the Rescue | Exodus 13
December 10: Ten Ways to Be Perfect | Exodus 16
December 11: Ten Ways to Be Perfect | Exodus 17
December 12: The Teeny-Weenie ... True King | 1 Samuel 16
December 13: The Teeny-Weenie ... True King | 1 Samuel 16 | CANDLE 3
December 14: Operation “No More Tears!” | Isaiah 9, 11
December 15: Operation “No More Tears!” | Isaiah 40, 50
December 16: Operation “No More Tears!” | Isaiah 53, 55, 60
December 17: Get Ready! | Nehemiah 8-10
December 18: Get Ready! | Malachi 1, 3, 4
December 19: Get Ready! | Ezra 7
December 20: He’s Here | Luke 1-2 | CANDLE 4
December 21: He’s Here | Luke 1-2
December 22: He’s Here | Luke 1-2
December 23: The Light of the Whole World | Luke 2
December 24: The Light of the Whole World | Luke 2
December 25: The Light of the Whole World | Luke 2
December 26: The King of All Kings | Matthew 2
December 27: The King of All Kings | Matthew 2 | CANDLE 5
I based this plan off of one I found online that had a different story each day, but I customized ours so there would be more repetition of the stories since she's still pretty young. The one with a different story each day would be great for older toddlers or preschoolers, so I'll be referencing it in the future, I'm sure!
I also customized my plan to start at the beginning of Advent (rather than on Dec 1), and I extended it to the 27th to wrap things up after the dust settles a bit.
The Activity Calendar:
These are the activities I made to coincide with the readings (or some don't too). I got a lot of my ideas from this lady who made activities to go with the original reading plan I found. I also got many of the ideas from my sister.
I changed a lot of them to fit with our schedule (such as just reading a book on days we're going to visit family, etc.) and to simplify them—for my sake and because my kiddo is still pretty young. One note: some of the activities require toys and books we have around our house already. You could probably pretty easily modify these to use books and supplies you have.
The word "ADVENT" means "Coming" (just like when we say daddy is COMING home). Jesus' birthday is coming soon, when we celebrate the day He was born as a baby. Each day for the next four weeks, we'll get ready to celebrate Jesus' Birthday on Christmas Day by opening an Advent surprise like this one!! I wonder what tomorrow's surprise will be!
[Tape A-D-V-E-N-T letters on wall]
Christmas is the day we celebrate Jesus' birthday, the day he was born! The Bible tells us the story of his birth many years ago. Let's read the story together from a book now.
[Read “The Story of Christmas”]
Christmastime is a great time to give to those in need. We like to show Jesus’ love to others just like He showed His love to us by coming as a man to rescue us. Let’s give to children in need today by choosing one of these gifts for them.
[Choose gifts from Compassion catalog]
Let’s make a sweet Christmas treat today! Christmas cookies are a fun way to celebrate.
[Make sugar cookies and decorate them together]
God made everything! He made the trees. Sometimes we like to celebrate Christmas by decorating trees like this one in our house! Let’s read about the things He made and make a little tree now.
[Read “Poems and Prayers” poems about what God made, make a green paper Christmas tree with ornament stickers]
God made a perfect home for Adam and Eve, didn’t He? Let’s think about that while we make our own home more beautiful by hanging these pretty ornaments on the Christmas tree.
[Hang 5-10 ornaments together]
Let’s color a fun Christmas picture together today. This is a picture of the day Jesus was born. Jesus is a special baby. Can you find Jesus? What else do you see in the picture?
[Color Nativity picture]
One thing people like to do to celebrate Christmas is make gifts and greetings for each other. Let’s make some cards for our librarians to deliver when we see them.
[Make Christmas cards using paper, stickers, and markers]
While we wait for Jesus’ birthday, let’s go to the library to deliver our cards and get a Christmas book to read today!
[Bring cards to librarians and get a book to read that day]
Passover, which we are learning about in our Devotions, is also known as the feast of unleavened bread. God’s people left Egypt quickly and didn’t have time for their bread to rise (or leaven). So they eat this special bread when they celebrate Passover.
[Eat Matzo bread, listen to Passover song, and watch Passover video]
Moses and his sister and God’s people danced and sang and made music, praising God for His protection. You can make music to God, too. One great way to celebrate Christmas is with music!
[Make a jingle bell instrument (bells on pipe cleaner), gather other instruments, and listen to Christmas music and play along]
God provided for His people as they wandered in the desert by giving them manna to eat every day. He provides for us, too. Let’s pretend to eat some manna together while we watch a special Christmas movie.
[Eat “manna” (frosted flakes) and watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”]
Candy Canes can remind us of Jesus at Christmastime. Let’s read a poem about candy canes and then make a candy cane!
[Read Candy Cane Poem and then make candy cane craft]
Candy Canes can remind us of Jesus at Christmas time since they look like a "J" upside-down and "J" is the first letter in Jesus' name! [Hold up like a “J”] They also remind us of a shepherd’s crook (read book and explain about how Jesus is our Shepherd and what a crook is), like King David talks about in Psalm 23.
[Read “The Lord is my Shepherd” book and then share candy cane treat]
Let’s write letters to your grandparents today, wishing them a Merry Christmas and telling them how much Jesus loves them.
[Write letters on Christmas paper and mail them]
There are lots of fun stories, pretend and real, about Christmas. The stories about Jesus from the Bible are true stories. Let’s read some make-believe, pretend stories now.
[Read “The Silver Christmas Tree” and “Clifford’s Christmas”]
Let’s celebrate Christmastime by making a pretty decoration for our Christmas tree today!
[Make paper chain and hang on tree]
God announced the news of Jesus’ birth by having a very bright star shine down on Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Let’s make a pretty sparkly star today!
[Make star of David out of popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter]
Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Here is a picture of the star over Bethlehem, shining on the place where Jesus was born. Jesus is a very special baby! Let’s color this picture while we listen to a song about Bethlehem.
[Color Bethlehem picture and listen to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and other Christmas music]
One way we can announce good news like Jesus’ birth is by blowing a trumpet loud for all to hear! Let’s read a story about trumpeting the Good News and then make a trumpet.
[Read Good News, page 66, in “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing” and make a horn (cone) out of yellow construction paper.]
We like to celebrate Christmas by spending time with the people we love. Let’s read a book about that as we visit with our family this weekend!
[Read “Willow at Christmastime”]
Let’s read a Christmas story about one of your favorite friends, Charlie Brown!
[Read "Charlie Brown Christmas"]
Today we can read the Nativity Story in Mom's Bible. We can act it out with our little nativity people while I read.
[Read Luke 2 in Bible, use Little People nativity to reenact the story]
See how mom's tummy is betting bigger with the new baby growing inside? The same thing happened to Mary when she had baby Jesus! But even before Jesus started growing in her tummy, an angel named Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would have a very special baby! God made angels to help Him and help people. Today, we can make an angel decoration together!
[Make a Paper Plate Angel]
Jesus is the shining light. He shines in the darkest of night.
Later we'll have a special treat, you'll wear PJ's in your car seat!
We'll take a family drive tonight, to find the fanciest Christmas lights!
[Drive through Christmas Lane this evening]
Today is Christmas Eve, which means the day before Christmas!! Remember the word "Advent" that we talked about and taped on the wall? Do you remember what it means (“coming”)? We've been waiting for Christmas a long time now, but soon we won't have to wait anymore! Let’s make a Nativity Scene with your Nativity stickers today!
[Make a scene with construction paper and Nativity stickers]
Merry Christmas! Let’s go visit Grandma and Grandpa and celebrate!
Let’s read about what it might have been like in the stable where Jesus was born!
[Read “The Stable Where Jesus was Born”]
Did you have fun with these Christmastime activities? Let’s do one more as we end our Christmas celebrations. Here is a picture of Jesus, the special baby, for you to color. Let’s watch a Christmas movie while we draw!
[Color picture of baby Jesus in manger and watch Nativity video]
The Finished Product:
I then put the slips of paper with the daily activities in these little bags so she can open one each day to find out what the surprise is. If the materials for the activity were small enough, they went in these bags.
I also gathered a basket with the books and other too-big items for each daily activity. I knew I wouldn't be able to follow through as easily if everything wasn't in one place and ready to go!
Hope this helps and blesses you as you prepare for Advent with your kids!