Epiphany Party Activities, Crafts, Games

Epiphany isn't technically part of Advent. It's a high point of the Christmas Octave--the eight days following Christmas. It's also the culmintation of the 12 days of Christmas, called Twelfth Night in many cultures. Epiphany commemorates the visit of the wisemen to the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The holiday is the major gift-giving occasion, more than Christmas, in some countries. It's also called Three Kings' Day, in honor of the Magi's visit. Here's an epiphany party planner with games, crafts, lesson plans, recipes and Bible activities. Read more

Ways parents can develop awareness of poverty, teach generosity

If I had a buck for every time I heard someone say "kids today are so insensitive and selfish," I'd be rich. If kids lack sensitivity, it's because we parents have failed to teach empathy. Kids need to learn empathy, especially with those in need. Disparity between "have" and "have not" are greatest during the holidays. Lavish feasts rub shoulders with hunger; excessive gift-giving coincides with poverty; kids' Christmas "gimmes" coexist with homelessness and despair. Here are ways to develop awareness of world poverty and teach generosity at Christmas.  read more

Free Printable Christmas Bible Story Coloring Pages for Advent

Psst--I've got a secret! Jesus is coming soon! Dec. 2, 2012 began the Catholic church new year and Advent. Yes, I know, Jesus was born some 2K years ago. But we Catholics and Orthodox Christians (and many other protestant Christian denominations) relive that most blessed event annually. We commemorate the birthday with a special season called Advent (that means "beginning" or "coming."). We believe that we need to open our hearts to Jesus and let him be born again there. We celebrate with generosity and good deeds. We practice virtues of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We look for Jesus in everyone we meet. We live out Our Lord's command to "love one another as I have love you." To help kids get closer to Jesus and his Holy Family, here are free Christian Christmas printables. Use these to count down to the feast of Christmas. Let kids follow the penitential season advent and the Octave of Christmas and epiphany by coloring one page each night. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe Advent Activities for Kids

Dec. 12 marks the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Catholic Church. It dates to back to 1531 when Catholics believe the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to an Aztec peasant named Juan Diego (now Bl. Juan Diego) at a hill called Tepeyac in Mexico City. Here are activities to help parents teach children about this Catholic holiday and its part in Mexican heritage. Activities include historical lesson plans, information on miracles attributed to Our Lady's image, plus crafts, recipes, games and activities to explore. read more

Free Printable Thanksgiving Activities and Lesson Plans

As a former homeschool family, we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday as a natural lead-in to Advent. Thanksgiving activities connect well with Advent virtues of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I recently came across a website that is one of the most comprehensive and helpful internet resources that I've seen in five years writing online. If you need free printable Thanksgiving lesson plans, crafts, activities, recipes, games and resources, read on... read on

Free Printable 'Stone Soup' Crafts, Games, Activities, Lessons

The legend of "Stone Soup" is timeless. With it's focus on sharing and generosity, itt's the perfect Advent book. "Stone Soup" has been retold many times, notably by Marcia Brown, Ann McGovern and Jon J. Muth. Stone Soup is sacred text in preschool and elementary classrooms. If you are teaching Stone Soup, here are free printable activities. As an educator and homeschooler, I've used "Stone Soup" over the years. read more

Student volunteer service credit opportunities: Tips for parents

 Volunteering is a buzzword in educational circles. It's also an important component of Catholic advent activities. To raise student awareness, groups like United Way coordinate student volunteer programs. Home schoolers and families can take advantage of this program to help kids gain volunteer experience. Many schools require kids to perform a set number of community service credits to graduate. Elementary and middle schools are getting in on the act, too. If your student needs earn community service credits here are some suggestions.  read more

Simple life parenting: Teaching kids how to slow down

Whenever I ask fellow parents how they are, the first answer is always "busy." Parents are under a lot of pressure from work, family, school and community. It's easy to get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to live. We disconnect from spouses and kids because we're stuck in a too-fast lifestyle. We complain that kids are too busy, but they learn from our example. As we begin thinking about Advent, here are ways parents teach kids, by example, how to slow down.  Advent slow-down tips

Free Printable Medieval Middle Ages Crafts, Coloring Pages

Some Advent observances date back to medieval times. I read Ellis Peters' "Brother Cadfael" and Susannah Gregory's "Mathew Bartholomew" books as well as some individual books set in the Middle Ages. All of them mention advent. With that in mind, here are free printable Medieval crafts, including castle, bailey, keep and chapel. I have a penchant for history, especially of the medieval period. I'm sure that my idea of the Middle Ages is pretty romanticized, but I can't help thrilling to words like dovecote, kirtle and merlon. If you share my predilection, here are free printable coloring pages from the medieval period. Social studies and history teachers might use these images in lessons on the period. Catholic home school students might use them in church history classes. I suggest assigning students to create a notebook of data, images, maps, timelines, diagrams and pictorial artifacts from the period. Read on

Free Printable Jesse Tree Advent Devotional Craft Tips

"And a shoot shall spring forth from the stump of Jesse: a branch out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1. This Biblical passage from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretells a new branch in the family tree of King David. Jesse was the father of David. David was the king of Israel during her Golden Age. After Solomon, David's son died, the kingdom fell to quarreling and heathen practices. The two kingdoms finally split and ultimately were carried off into slavery by a succession of eastern rulers from Assyria, Babylon, Medea and Persia.

David's lineage from Jesse is said to have withered or died. Isaiah refers to the family tree as a stump (great imagery). But we are also promised a new branch which will bring new life to the old dead tree. Many Christians us The Jesse Tree during Advent to guide their devotions. The Jesse Tree traces the lineage of Jesus through Jesse. It was also called the Adam and Eve tree and was decorated with apples and white wafers to remind us of the Host used in the Eucharist. The Jesse or Chrisom Tree as it is also called, is often confused with the Christmas tree. An evergreen is generally used and is decorates with ornaments that represent different people and stories in the life and family of Emmanuel or Jesus.

You can make your own Jesse Tree easily for use in your home, Church, catechism or Sunday School. Here's how.  read on

Free Printable Advent Countdown to Christmas Activities for Catholic Families, Homeschoolers

We homeschooled our four children for over 10 years. As a Catholic family, we set aside the month of December for advent activities. Advent begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas and countdowns to the feast of Christmas. Here are countdown activities, including Advent calendars, crafts, devotions, Jesse Tree, prayers, kids almsgiving and family activities. read on

Free Printable Saints Party Games, Saints Scavenger Hunt, Bible Riddle Games

Written for All Saints Day, these free printable games could be used for Advent and birthday parties for Jesus. I've written several variations of an All Saints Scavenger Hunt and Bible Character Riddle Game. Print these clues for your All Saints Party. This can be as easy or as complicated as you'd like. One way is to request adult All Saints party goers to dress as certain saints. Each child is given a list of clues or riddles about the saint. When the child thinks that he can match the clue to the saint, he asks the person representing the saint. If he is correct, the saint signs his scavenger hunt game. This game is best played with 10-15 saints represented. Read on read on

Free Printable Bible Coloring Pages, Catholic Saints, Advent Activities

Many of my happiest childhood memories revolve around Bible stories and Sunday School activities. Crafts were simpler then. Just crayons and coloring, mostly. But how I loved that big box of broken crayons. I love coloring pictures of Bible friends: Adam and Eve, Noah's ark, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and his coat of many colors, Moses, the Exodus, Samuel, Samson and Deliah, Gideon, Joshua, David and Goliath and so many others. And then all the New Testament friends: Zaccheus, St. John, the disciples, the parables, the miracles and of course, our Lord Jesus.

I'm a Catholic convert. Homeschooling my kids, I shared that intimate friendship with Biblical characters. I adopted Catholic saints into the circle of friends. Or should I say the saints adopted me. Teachers and homeschoolers, here are free printable Biblical Christmas coloring pages. They're perfect for VBS, Sunday School, CCD, religious education, preschool and special needs kids. Read on


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