Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Family Advent Activities

The Road To The Manger homemade game
  It's that time of year. I can't believe it's the season of Advent, and that (GULP!) Christmas is 15 short days away! There's cookies to bake, presents to buy and wrap, pageants to go to, company parties, class parties and so much more. It' easy to get caught up in the doing and lose the reason for the season.

This year I promised myself I was not going to get caught up in the frenzy again this year. And then caught myself hyperventilating about if I had enough presents for my children. And then another thought popped in my head. Was this what I wanted them to think Christmas was all about? The answer is a simple, emphatic, heartfelt "NO!"! So I  set out to think up some creative ways to teach and reinforce the story of Christmas. My children know the basics, having had it read to them and from participating in our church's Christmas Pageant,
The manger, the end of the game.
but I wanted to make sure they knew it all. After all, the story lays the foundation for what we believe a Christians. Long story short, I created the "The Road To The Manger" game. It was easy to make and is easy to play. I even put aside my Miss Perfect Martha Stewart tendencies and hand wrote everything instead of using the computer! 
I simply took 2 sheets of paper and drew out a "road" in pencil first, then went over with a thin black marker. I made 2 rectangles at the top for the Trivia cards and the Risk cards. Using a glue stick I attached the "game board" to the inside of a standard size manila folder. I then divided the "road" into spaces, filling some of them with "Pick a Trivia Card" and "Pick a Risk Card". I decorated it with stickers of the Nativity story. You could use clip
Cover with title and rules for the game.
art from your computer or draw the pictures if you can't find stickers. I got these at my local Michael's. Then I covered the game board with clear contact paper.
For the trivia cards and risk cards, I used index cards and hand printed the questions or "risk". For questions I asked things like "Who told the shepherds about Jesus' birth?" and "Where were Joseph and Mary from?". I also did true and false questions. I put the answers at the bottom, upside down. For the "risk" cards, I put "Oh no! The donkey's foot is sore! Stay where you are for the next turn." and "Wow, you got a good nights sleep. Move ahead 2 extra spaces."  You can come up with as many questions as you want and think of different scenarios for the risk cards, both good and bad. I put many more "trivia" spaces on the board then risks, because the point is to have them learn. The risks are just to make the game a little more

Back cover with cards, dice and markers.
interesting. I used wooden buttons for place markers, and a set of jumbo dice the kids had. Using double stick tape, I put a plastic baggie on the back of the folder to hold all the pieces. For the cover, I put the name of the game and the rules. This is important, so that children don't fight. (Well, they may still fight, but the rules are right there in black and white!) And yes, I did use the computer for the cover! I love the layout of using a manila folder because it doesn't take up a lot of room ad you can make a game like this for any holiday. It's a great way to learn and send some time with your family.
Next is Christmas memory cards. I got the templates for these from a great site. They have all sorts of printables for children. I found that their memory card templates fit well on 11x14 poster board. I just cut out the cards and use double stick tape to stick them to the poster board, cover with clear contact paper and cut apart. I had 4 that didn't fit the poster board, so I used index cards to back those. While playing memory with your kids, you can talk about what each picture means or stands for and how it relates to the Nativity.
Well, it's time to get ready for my little ones to get home from school, so I'll sign off for now. I hope this has given you some ideas of how to put Christ in your family's Christmas.

Many Blessings,

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