This is the second year of existence at my school. We actually just broke ground today for our new elementary to be built. Anyway, my co-workers and I are trying to brainstorm "all school" activities to get the students prepared for Christmas. Last year I had several people come into our classrooms during the weeks leading up to Christmas. They were called "Advent Mystery Guests." We had Angel Gabriel, Shepherds, Joseph, Mary, and the Three Wise Men all make a visit to the classrooms to tell the children about their journey. Anyone have any other ideas we could do school wide to keep the anticipation high during Advent? I would really appreciate them.
BerganKnight, these are fabulous ideas for Advent! Have you ever thought about publishing them? I know of two Catholic magazines that publish great ideas-"Catechist" and "Religion Teachers' Journal". You write up a small article and submit it. I once did and received a small stipend.
BerganKnight: Fabulouls Ideas! I need advent ideas for this year. We do prayer services, but we could expand our advent activities and have the Jr. High students be the "mystery guests" to the classrooms. The younger students would love this and I think the older ones would secretly enjoy it too! If you have more details, I would love to hear them too!
In our school we have the kids draw a name at the beginning of Advent. From then on, every one does nice things in secret for this child. They are encouraged to pray for the child, send happy notes, homemade cookies, play with the child during recess, etc.-all done secretly. At the end of Advent, on the last day of school, the kids bring a present to school (less than $5 wrapped and with the 'to' and 'from' labeled). We have an Advent party where the children give their present to the child they have been an Advent angel to.
When drawing a name, it is supervised by the teachers. Nobody can draw their sibling and they may not draw their classmates. (too hard to keep the secret!) Most of the happy notes are done at home. But, no idea is perfect, so the teachers try to keep an eye on things and check to make sure all are receiving and giving. They have a master list of who has who.
The kids love this. They remember from year to year who they had. It is nice to see the older kids exclaim over an obvious kindergarten drawing.
Some of the Advent Mystery Guests that we had were: Angel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, another angel, and the three wise men. One of our priests came in as Angel Gabriel. He just wore the white priest vestment as the costume. I typed up a summary of what I wanted each to cover. Some read right from the sheet, others ad-libbed as they went. Angel Gabriel spoke about how he was so lucky because he had just been to see Mary and how she said "yes" to God. He also spoke about how Mary was afraid of him at first, etc. Each mystery guest spent about 5-10 minutes in my room and then they did the same in every other classroom. Each guest was scheduled for a different time during the weeks leading up to Christmas break. After Angel Gabriel I had Joseph visit. He talked about how he was heading back to Bethlehem for the census that was taking place. He expanded on what a census was, etc. He wore a robe, sandals and towel on his head. Mary came next. She talked about her ride on the donkey and her travels with Joseph and how she was very tired riding on the donkey. She spoke about how long the journey was to Bethlehem and also spoke about how the angel Gabriel had visited her. She wore blue garments. Next we had two sheperds who told about the bright star they had seen in the sky while they were watching over the sheep. They told how they heard about the savior who was coming. We had a second angel come and tell about how they sang "Gloria" when they heard about baby Jesus. She taught the chorus of gloria in excellsis deo (spelling?) to the kids in our class. The last vistors we had were the 3 wisemen. They told about how they were making their way to see baby Jesus. Each spoke about where they came from...Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar are their names. They wore crowns and royal attire and also spoke of the "gifts" they were carrying with them to give to Jesus. I hope this helps. My kids absolutely LOVED this! They learned so much!
I teach Middle School Religion for grades 6th, 7th, and 8th. I am looking for new ideas, and love the idea for Advent Mystery Guests. I know that both the Middle School and primary grades would enjoy this activity very much. I would love more information and a script if there is one available.
Another actvity that I have the Middle School do during Advent is Nativity Day. Each student brings in a nativity set and it is displayed in the hall. Our parish priest blesses the nativity sets and the other classes can filter in to see the different sets.