Tis the season to pull out all of our favorite activities, books, and movies!
Every year, as I begin to put the Thanksgiving decorations away and pull out the Christmas boxes, my children begin asking about all of their favorites which have been hidden away for the year. Their excitement gets my creative juices flowing to find new ways to use our time-tested favorites to make new memories.
From activities to books to movies, we squeeze the most out of every moment in December with the ultimate goal being to bring our hearts to the manger as we remember that the reason for celebrating is the birth of our Savior, Jesus.
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Melk the Christmas Monkey- This little monkey visits us sporadically throughout the month of December with the express purpose of teaching us about the character of God. My favorite aspect of Melk the Christmas Monkey is that he visits us based on our schedule. It does not have to be a daily activity. Because of this, my children are still experiencing new activities because there are still lessons we have not yet learned with Melk over the last couple of years. You can read more about our experiences with Melk here. (Note: The actual monkey is not part of your purchase. The monkey I purchased several years ago is no longer available, but you can find a similar monkey here.)
Little People Nativity– When Ian was two years old, I knew I had to do something that would keep my ceramic Nativity set from becoming an item of interest to him. I decided to purchase the Little People Nativity set. He is now six years old, and he still enjoys playing with the set. This is one set that continues to grow with children, and each year, as their knowledge and understanding of the Christmas account grows, so will their storytelling as they play with the characters.
Our family has grown a collection of Christmas books over the last nine years, and each year our collection grows by one or two books. For the last two years, we have received copies of Glenys Nellist’s newest Christmas books Christmas Love Letters from God and Twas the Evening of Christmas which have become family favorites and are on my list of “must have Christmas books.” You can read more about them here and here.
My friend, Aryn the Libraryan, who shared her list of Christmas books yesterday, recently gifted us with Max Lucado’s An Angel’s Story. It is a powerful adaptation of the Christmas account through the eyes of the angel Gabriel. My children are currently nine and six years old, but because of all of the discussions we have already had, I felt they were ready for this book. You may want to read it through on your own to decide when your children would be ready for it as it does deal with the spiritual realm.
A few of our other favorites in our book basket are:
- Happy Birthday, Jesus! (toddler/preschool)
- My Christmas Stocking (toddler/preschool)
- Bear Stays Up for Christmas (toddler/preschool)
- Mortimer’s Christmas Manger (preschool/elementary)
- Alabaster’s Song (preschool/elementary)
- Great Illustrated Classics: Christmas Bedtime Stories (elementary)
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (elementary)
- Jacob’s Gift (elementary)
- The Quiet Little Woman (elementary)
One of our favorite things to do in the evenings is to gather on the sofa and watch a Christmas movie while eating popcorn (for the record, my husband makes the best popcorn ever!). Movies can be a great visual for our children when depicting the Nativity or a lesson in character or love, just be sure to point out to your children when the movie has taken creative license.
The Nativity Story (upper elementary/middle and high school) is a family favorite. Although it is not an animated film, we chose to show it to our children last year. It can be a bit harsh and realistic, for example, when Elizabeth and Mary each give birth, there is nothing cute and cuddly about it. But it beautifully portrays the reality of the situation. Again, as with any biblically based movie, be sure your children know what the Bible says and can discern the truth from creative license.
Our other favorite is Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas. (preschool/elementary) This animated depiction beautifully explains to children the truth behind the idea of Santa Claus by introducing them to the real St. Nicholas by creating a story based on one of the legends surrounding his generosity.
Other family favorites are:
- The Legend of the Candy Cane (preschool/elementary)
- Buster and Chauncey’s Silent Night (preschool/elementary)
- Hermie and Friends: A Fruitcake Christmas (preschool/elementary)
- The Tangerine Bear (preschool/elementary)
- It’s A Wonderful Life (elementary/middleand high school)
As you move into the Christmas season, may the activities, books, and movies you share with your family bring you all closer to Jesus and His gift of Salvation.