Snuggled up near the sparkling Christmas tree with the nativity nestled on the wooden shelf nearby, our family gathers round to share in our nightly Advent readings. These are cherished memories with a purpose.
An exceptional Advent Devotional is not simply a nice family tradition – it charts the course of the season, and guides you through the story of a promised Redeemer to that moment Jesus enters this world as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. It is the ribbon that ties up the package of faith, hope, and love and delivers it to us through Scripture, music, and activities that reinforce our walk with Christ well past the Christmas season.
Every year, I search for an Advent Devotional that shares the Gospel in a way that reaches from my littlest ones to my biggest ones, yet also feeds the maturity of my own faith. I don’t take this journey lightly. This year, that journey led me to A Gentle Advent.
I was immediately drawn to the name of this Advent Devotional. Who doesn’t want to have a “gentle” Advent season amidst all the hustle and bustle of gifts, food, and holiday gatherings? But, what enticed me more was that this devotional had a Charlotte Mason flair.
Our homeschool has become increasingly Charlotte Mason in style, so the idea of continuing this into the Christmas season was exciting. I was already aware of A Gentle Advent because I use the Morning Time plans from the same company (Everyday Graces), but I had not actually looked at the plans prior to this year’s Advent search.
However, as I was beginning to plan our Christmas season, Lara released another version of A Gentle Advent – the Jesse Tree edition!
LEARN MORE HERE >>
While it was very difficult to choose between the two, I ended up deciding on A Gentle Advent – Jesse Tree because my kids dearly love our Jesse Tree traditions, and last year’s had not turned out so well (but we won’t dwell on that…), so I felt a need to redeem that year with this lovely new devotional.
A Gentle Advent – Jesse Tree is a mix between an online “course” and a pdf download. I started by printing out the Advent Activity Calendar found in the “Start Here” section of the module. Next, I downloaded everything I could from the daily lessons.
I stapled together anything that made sense to staple. This included the weekly Advent candle readings, the music pages, the journaling pages, the poetry and tea time lessons, handicraft instructions, the candy making cookbook, and unit study lesson plans.
Before you begin to worry that this sounds like too much for a simple Advent Devotional, let me reassure you that each day there is one focus plus your Scripture reading and journaling if you so choose (we will not be doing the journaling). If at any time, you are overwhelmed by a certain daily lesson, don’t do it – just read the Scripture.
In fact, we won’t be doing the very first lesson because it involves making an Advent candle wreath, and we already have one. On that day, I will let the kids lift the flap on the Advent calendar and we’ll work together to put up the Advent wreath we already own.
And for those of you who have been dabbling in the concept of a Morning Time or have been considering jumping into the Charlotte Mason homeschool world, this would be the perfect introduction! It is slow, steady, and simple – a hallmark of everything Everday Graces produces.
I also laminated some of the contents of the course. This included the ornaments and the Art Study pages (shown above). For the art pages, I put the information page on the back of each art print so that I could hold it up to show the children while I read about it from the back.
I punched a hole in each ornament and added colored twine I had on hand so that every night during our Scripture reading, we can add the corresponding ornament to our small Jesse Tree.
I put the ornaments in a plastic baggie and put everything I had printed off into a red folder I will keep at my “command central” in the kitchen along with my Bible. Each day the children will take turns lifting a flap on the Advent Calendar to find out what the daily project will be, and I will consult the online portion of the course for instructions.
For instance…Day 4:
The Scripture readings are listed at the top of the page if you don’t have them printed off. The sheet music is included in a download, but in the online portion of the course, you can find the mp3 if you aren’t sure how the song goes or if you are musically challenged. Project downloads are also included. Each day is something different which is why I went through the course day by day and downloaded everything I needed at one time. However, if you want to wing it and download as you go, that works too!
A Gentle Advent – Jesse Tree can serve as your homeschooling for the season or as a supplement. We will use the projects and lessons as Morning Time and the Jesse Tree readings as part of our evening devotionals. We will also be doing lessons and reading books found in The Christmas Guide from The Peaceful Press. LEARN MORE HERE >>
This, my friends, is how you wrap the season in traditions that will be remembered for many years to come. Won’t you join me?
You can find more Advent ideas in my post: Free Advent Devotionals for Children