When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small satellite church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called “PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture”. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a regular blog series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children.
Today’s lesson uses ’TWAS THE EVENING OF CHRISTMAS (Zonderkidz, 2017 ), written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Elena Selivanovaas as the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.
PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson
’TWAS THE EVENING OF CHRISTMAS
by Glenys Nellist
PURPOSE: To celebrate the forthcoming birth of Christ and amplify the meaning of the season in a fresh and special way using Glenys Nellist’s ’Twas the Evening of Christmas as our focus.
OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: Caring for Baby Jesus
Open in prayer, then, sitting in a circle, ponder the idea that Jesus was once a baby. Ask them what makes babies special and how they need to be cared for so gently and lovingly. Then, take turns gently rocking the Baby Jesus. Pass the baby around until everyone has a chance to be sweet and gentle with the baby. Then, say, “Isn’t it wonderful that God sent his son Jesus, as a precious baby, to be our savior? That’s what we celebrate at Christmas – that God sent his Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the World.
INTRODUCE THE STORY:
Introduce the story asking the children if they know the story ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. (Maybe even have that one on hand.) Then explain, that this one, instead of being about Santa, is about Jesus and the night He was born. Then share the story ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, pausing to ponder and enjoy each spread.
FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME:
After reading the story, take out a nativity creche that includes all the figures that you have just read about in the story. As you hold them up, one by one, have the children tell who or what the figure is and how they fit into the Christmas story. Then, marvel together at what a special night that first Christmas was. It’s when God sent his precious son, Jesus to be the savior of the world!
And where can we learn more about that precious night? In the Bible!
DIG INTO SCRIPTURE TIME:
Special note: For first grade and up, I recommend having several children’s bibles on hand so children can work in pairs to find the verses. They LOVE this and in the process learn how to locate biblical passages by book, chapter, and verse – a rewarding and important foundational skill for future bible study.
Wrap up the discussion by digging into scripture together to find the Christmas story.
Luke 2: 1 – 20
STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME: Make Nativity-Themed Christmas Ornaments
Ahead of time, gather the materials needed so children can create a nativity-themed ornament to take home and hang on their Christmas trees. Design your own or choose from these adorable options:
Fluffy sheep ornament: https://www.icanteachmychild.com/sheep-ornament/
Baby Jesus ornament: https://kidscraftroom.com/handprint-baby-jesus-ornament-craft/
WRAP UP: As children are finishing up craft – have them review with you the different parts of the story using the nativity. Then, give thanks that Jesus came to earth to be our Savior. Remind them that this is the real gift of Christmas.
OPTIONAL SNACK IDEA: Animal Crackers – Pretend they are coming to visit and worship Jesus.
EXTRA RESOURCE: ’TWAS THE EVENING OF CHRISTMAS Activity Pack