Advent - a time of preparation
There are many different ways of marking Advent at home. The resources listed on this page are intended to provide some ideas that you could use in your family, and so help your children (and yourself) prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. Many of them are available on the Advent Resource Table in the church foyer.
De-clutter December (growministries.org) - this [special December calendar](https://www.growministries.org.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2019/11/Declutter-December_2019.pdf) is designed to help you de-clutter your month, prioritise your activities and focus on things that matter most for you and your children at this time of year.
The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide (Sally Lloyd-Jones) - check out [this article](https://www.faithgateway.com/jesus-storybook-bible-advent-calendar-printable/) for what's in this resource (updated for 2019), including:
- Illustrations from The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Bible verses and reading plan for each day
- Instructions for making the calendar
Christmas Bible Reading Plan for Kids (intentionalbygrace.com) - check out [this page](https://intentionalbygrace.com/free-christmas-bible-reading-plan-for-kids/) for more information about this helpful reading plan for the last 2 week of Advent, aimed at kids aged 8-12. The plan can be downloaded [here](https://www.corouniting.org/d/RtDiG2PboRIItIT3pFz1JNEhU).
100 ways to celebrate Christmas (sa.uca.org.au) - check out [this page fo](https://sa.uca.org.au/intergen/family-resources/parents/100-ways-to-celebrate-christmas)r a sample and download link.
The Jesse Tree (whychristmas.com) - check out [this article](https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/jessetrees.shtml) for more information about Jesse Trees.
- The photo above is one made with our children throughout Advent in 2017.
A Simple Advent Journey for the Family (refocusministry.org) - a simple [Christmas "Advent"ure](https://refocusministry.org/2016/11/17/a-simple-advent-journey-for-the-family/) with a "Reverse Advent" theme...
- This Advent Season, gather your family each day for a moment to read a Scripture, say a prayer, or do an activity [listed here](https://refocusministry.org/2016/11/17/a-simple-advent-journey-for-the-family/) and add to your “Reverse Advent” basket (you'll need to click the link to find out more...!)
What is Pentecost?
Pentecost is the day when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can read about this in the Bible in [Acts 2:1-13](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2%3A1-13&version=NIRV). Pentecost is 50 days after Easter (10 days after Jesus' Ascension) - you could say it was the church's birthday with over 3,000 people becoming followers of Jesus on the one day!
Some helpful resources for your family
Note that this page seeks to provide ideas and resources for Pentecost only and not the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, including the gifts and fruits of the Spirit.
Pentecost (Strandz) - check out [this website](https://www.strandz.org.nz/pentecost.html) for a huge number of ideas to help you celebrate Pentecost, including:
- [A Pinterest page](https://www.pinterest.nz/Strandznz/pentecost/) - loads of ideas of crafts, colouring sheets, baking and decorations!
- [Celebrating Pentecost](http://kidsfriendly.org.nz/wp-content/Uploads/Celebrating-Pentecost-2015.pdf) - a resource full of activities and ideas - from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand
Pentecost crafts to make with your kids:
- Make your own [Pentecost Flames Salad Spinner Art with prayer ideas](http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2014/04/pentecost-flames-salad-spinner-art-and.html) - a fun and messy craft to do with your kids for Pentecost
- Do some colouring in with this [Pentecost Colouring Page](https://whatsinthebible.com/activity-library/pentecost/)
Talking with your kids about Pentecost - the below articles provide ideas for talking about Pentecost with your kids in age appropriate ways that don't freak them out!
- [3 Teaching Points for Pentecost](https://buildfaith.org/teaching-pentecost/) (buildfaith.org) - a helpful article highlighting that Pentecost was the 'birth day' of the church, that it showcases the Trinity and that it shows that Jesus kept his promise
- [God Sends Help](https://youtu.be/SCVceyp7IdI) (The Jesus Storybook Bible) - an animated re-telling of the story 'God Sends Help' read by David Suchet
- [Talking about the Holy Spirit with your kids](https://whatsinthebible.com/what-is-the-holy-spirit-book-of-acts/) (a video from What's in the Bible?) - Phil Vischer talks about how we can talk with our kids about the Holy Spirit right through the Bible, not just at Pentecost...
- [How to teach kids about the Holy Spirit](https://www.gatherandgrow.co/family-faith-building-teaching-kids-holy-spirit/) (gatherandgro.co) - some really helpful suggestions including Bible verses that talk about what he does
- [Come Holy Spirit: 3 Prayers for Pentecost](https://buildfaith.org/come-holy-spirit/) (buildfaith.org) - some wonderful ways to pray in the home, providing insights into the role of the Holy Spirit today
- [Pentecost cartoon worksheet](http://cartoonchurch.com/cartoons/worksheets/pentecost_pdf.pdf) (cartoonchurch.com) - a bit of fun although a little abstract as well... :)
- [The Holy Spirit](https://youtu.be/oNNZO9i1Gjc) (a video from The Bible Project) - best for older kids and youth and traces the person of the Holy Spirit right through the Bible
- [What is Pentecost?](https://whatsinthebible.com/what-is-pentecost/) (What's in the Bible?) - a helpful video and article covering the origins of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit Today and Talking with our Kids about the Holy Spirit
Making Pentecost special this year - some ideas for helping to make Pentecost 'a thing' and avoiding it just passing you by:
- [Pentecost Playdough Mat](http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2014/04/pentecost-play-dough-mat.html) (Flame Creative Children's Ministry) - a practical and fun activity for younger kids including questions for thinking and prayer ideas
- [Flame Finger Labyrinth](http://www.strandz.org.nz/uploads/4/6/5/9/46590535/finger_labyrinth.pdf) (Strandz) - a simple and helpful way of thinking, listening and praying
- [The Day When God Made Church](https://paracletepress.com/products/the-day-when-god-made-church) (Paraclete Press) - a great book from our church library - read the first part of it online in PDF format [here](https://s3.amazonaws.com/supadu-imgix/paracletepress-us/pdfs/excerpts/EX-9781612615646.pdf)
Halloween: Good or Bad?
Halloween can sometimes cause confusion amongst Christians - is it something to avoid or is it not really all that bad? Hopefully these resources will be helpful for you as you think about your own approach with your children.
Halloween Information Sheet (Grow Ministries) - check out [this article](https://www.corouniting.org/d/3d20e9Brp45vBns2wXo8h0pit) for a brief summary of Halloween including:
- The link with All Hallows/Saints Day
- Why some people dress up as ghouls etc.
Halloween: FAQs (Scripture Union) - check out [this article](https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/story/halloween-faqs) for answers to the following questions:
- Where did Halloween come from?
- Should I be concerned that Halloween means children are getting involved with occult practices?
- My child want to celebrate Halloween with their non-Christian friends. What should I do?
- How can I show God's love this Halloween?
Trick or Treat? Side by Side with God in Everyday Life - Halloween Special (Barnabas in Churches) - if you're after something to step you through thinking about Halloween and how to respond as Christians, then check out [this article](https://www.corouniting.org/d/uDV43OYp693XfXPF3jy0OqwwR). It includes:
- Notes for adults
- Bible passages
- Wondering questions
- Things to chat together about
Redeeming Halloween: How Should Christians Approach Halloween? (intoxicatedonlife.com) - [this article](https://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/redeeming-halloween) explores whether there is a middle ground in the approach to Halloween using three options: receive, reject or redeem. It settles on redeeming the festival and covers areas such as:
- A brief history of Halloween
- Caveats to redeeming Halloween
- What does redeeming Halloween look like?
What is Lent?
Lent is the period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) immediately prior to Easter Sunday. It is traditionally a time of repentance and renewal of faith in Jesus.
Why 40 days?
Good question! The number 40 is significant in the Bible, usually referring to a period of testing or trial, eg.
- 40 days of rain when Noah and his family were in the ark ([Genesis 7:17](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+7%3A17&version=NIRV))
- 40 years of the Israelites wandering in the desert ([Exodus 16:35](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+7%3A17&version=NIRV))
- Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness ([Matthew 4:1-11](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+4%3A1-11&version=NIRV))
What's with Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and Ash Wednesday?
'Shrove' is from the verb 'shrive', meaning to confess, ie. to admit all the things that you have thought, said and done that are wrong. In French this is Mardi Gras - 'fat Tuesday', and for Spanish-speaking people it is Carnival which may have originated from the Latin carne vale, meaning 'to farewell meat' (often given up during Lent) or even 'to say goodbye to the flesh' (possibly giving rise to the modern day trend of giving up something you enjoy during Lent).
In earlier times, many Christians would fast from eggs and milk for Lent; using these up before Lent gave rise to the cooking of pancakes, and hence 'Pancake Day'. This also gave rise to the tradition of giving eggs at Easter when the fast was broken (see [this article](https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2010/february/how-fast-of-lent-gave-us-easter-eggs.html) for more details).
Ash Wednesday is when ashes (often from the burned palm crosses from the previous Palm Sunday) would traditionally be worn, symbolising grief or shame (see [Esther 4:1](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=esther+4%3A1&version=NIRV), [Jonah 3:6](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jonah+3%3A6&version=NASB)). This marks the start of Lent, a season of repentance from our sin and humble acknowledgement of our own mortality and dependence on God.
Some helpful resources for your family
Lent + Easter (Strandz) - check out [this website](https://www.strandz.org.nz/lent--easter.html) for a huge number of ideas to help you journey through Lent:
- [Intergenerational Lenten Study: 'A Pilgrimage of Grace'](https://www.strandz.org.nz/grace.html) - something to talk about, explore, thank and watch each week
- Lots of links to videos and various Lent and Easter resources
Lent: A Journey to Easter (Anglican Diocese of Auckland) - check out [this website](https://lent.nz/welcome) for an interactive Lent calendar:
- Readings and Activities for each day of Lent, split into weekly chunks
- Content from various authors and artists
Lent: What do Christians remember during Lent? (RE:start) - check out [this website](https://request.org.uk/restart/2014/06/05/lent/) for a whole series of pages relating to Lent and Easter:
- Shrove Tuesday: What do pancakes have to do with Easter?
- Lent Today: How are Christians learning to 'do Lent generously'? See [40acts.org.uk](http://www.40acts.org.uk/) for more info.
Lent and Easter: Ideas to use at home (Barnabas in Churches) - if you're after some practical ideas that connect with our faith, then check out [this article](https://www.barnabasinchurches.org.uk/find/all/ideas/1/lent/). It includes:
- A reflective story of Jesus' temptations
- Countdown to Easter - stories form the Bible to take you through Lent
Family Lent Ideas (Flame - Creative Children's Ministry) - [this blog post](http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/p/family-lent-ideas.html) (or [this PDF](https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0RweH-3RyI0ZXNFOE85TVFuN3c/view)) have fun, simple and creative activities for each day of Lent, such as:
- Play dough prayers
- Blessings jar
- Various baking activities
What is Holy Week?
Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter Day, starting on Palm Sunday. It is also the last week of Lent and includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Saturday.
Some helpful resources for your family
Lent + Easter (Strandz) - check out [this website](https://www.strandz.org.nz/lent--easter.html) for a huge number of ideas to help you journey through Holy Week and Easter, including:
- [A Lego Journey through Holy Week](https://www.buildfaith.org/journey-through-holy-week-with-lego/) - something to read, talk about and then make for each day of Holy Week
- [Holy Week Visual Aid](https://ideas.brf.org.uk/holy-week-visual-aid) - an adaptation of a well-tried paper-folding and paper-tearing exercise that tells the story of Holy Week
Easter crafts to make with your kids:
- Check out [this website](http://www.mylittlehouse.org/the-easter-story1.html) for a Easter scene model with [cut-outs](http://www.mylittlehouse.org/uploads/2/1/0/0/21005170/easter_files_model.pdf) and [instructions](http://www.mylittlehouse.org/uploads/2/1/0/0/21005170/easter_instructions.pdf) (quite involved - for older kids)
- Make your own [Palm Cross](https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Palm-Frond-Cross) - a fun craft to do with your kids for Palm Sunday
- Make your own [Easter Garden](https://www.corouniting.org/resources/making-an-easter-garden) - we made kits for mainly music - includes some conversation starters
Talking with your kids about Good Friday and Easter - this is not easy, however it's important to do. The below articles provide ideas for talking about Jesus' death with your kids in age appropriate ways and without scaring them!
- [Not the best day for kids: the challenge of Good Friday](https://www.vinteract.com.au/view/i/Ox54fW4Kj8WveUD3UPzNC4tyu) (Anglican Taonga Easter 2012: Magazine of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand)
- [Talking to Young Kids about Good Friday and Easter](https://www.cornerstonesforparents.com/talking-young-kids-good-friday-easter) (Cornerstones for Parents)
- [Answers to Questions Kids Ask About Good Friday and the Crucifixion](https://www.cornerstonesforparents.com/answers-questions-kids-good-friday-crucifixion) (Cornerstones for Parents)
Making Holy Week 'holy' this year - some ideas for helping to make Holy Week 'a thing' and avoiding it just passing you by:
- [5 Ways of Celebrating Holy Week with Children](https://www.illustratedchildrensministry.com/2018/holy-week-with-children/) (Illustrated Children's Ministry) - including baking ideas and giving away coats
- [Holy Week Prayer Journal](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/5oEtp4xa4v0JVpNDeEJsddVcA) (faithgateway) - readings, devotions and some journalling space
- [Holy Week Timeline](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/zibmWmt7Fb8NTvnDLUk9P3yti) (biblegateway) - a visual understanding of what happened when during Holy Week complete with scripture references
Note: this has been adapted from [this webpage](https://sweettmakesthree.com/wp-json/mv-create/v1/creations/48/print) at [Sweet T Makes Three](https://sweettmakesthree.com/)
What you need:
- 1 large terracotta pot base (or large bowl),
- 1 small terracotta pot
- grass seeds
- potting soil
- craft moss (optional)
- small sticks in the shape of a cross (use string or hot glue gun)
- Lay the pot on its side toward the back of the large bowl as pictured
- Spray the top of the pot and the back half of the large bowl liberally with water
- Cover with potting soil as shown then spray soil with water. Pack the moist soil as tightly as you can adding more water if needed
- Sprinkle grass seeds over area then top with a little bit more soil to cover the seeds. Spray with more water
- (optional) Place moss in front of pot opening
- Add pebbles on top of moss (or soil)
- Place cross in the soil to the side of the pot
- Continue to spray the soil each day until grass sprouts
- Make 'Jesus' out of pipe cleaners / Lego etc. and lay him in the tomb wrapped in tissue
- Use a roundish rock to cover the tomb
- On Easter Day, remove 'Jesus' from the tomb and roll back the stone
Before making this with your children, read the Easter story together:
As Julie Hintz says in [this article](https://www.vinteract.com.au/view/i/Ox54fW4Kj8WveUD3UPzNC4tyu), it's important for our children to not just skip from the cheering crowds on Palm Sunday to the joy of the resurrection on Easter Day, but to wrestle with the events of Holy Week in a way that is age appropriate.
Firstly, read the events of the Easter story from a Children's Bible (such as [The Jesus Storybook Bible](https://www.koorong.com/search/product/the-jesus-storybook-bible-sally-lloyd-jones-jago/0310708257.jhtml), available to borrow from the church library) and/or watch a video about Easter designed for children such as [this one](https://youtu.be/HL8R158Ujp4) from Saddleback Kids or [this reading of the book The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross](https://youtu.be/IHwr70bJlZ8). Ask your children if they have any questions about what they've read or watched.
For young kids, don't avoid talking about the fact that Jesus was killed, and acknowledge the sadness and confusion that his friends felt, however keep away from the horror of the crucifixion and remember to say that this wasn't the end - Jesus came back to life and his friends were happy again. Also remind them that Jesus is still alive today (kids sometimes think that Jesus died again later...)!
Conversation starters whilst you make the Easter Garden with your child:
- Ask what the small pot (tomb) is for, and why we need it
- Chat about how the grass seeds are buried in the soil and could be forgotten (but they aren't... they're actually full of life waiting to burst out)
- Ask what Jesus' followers (disciples) might have felt at different times in the story (eg. sad, angry, confused, happy)
- If asked, explain how the cross was a common form of killing people in Roman times
- If your kids are too young to understand the concept of death, phrases like 'Jesus' body stopped working' may be helpful
- You could place the pebbles in a path leading to the entrance to the tomb and chat about what the women might have felt when they found Jesus' body was gone
- Chat about how this was all God's and Jesus' plan all along, that when Jesus died he took away all the things that stopped us from being friends with God (the Bible calls this 'sin') and that when God made Jesus alive again there was now nothing in the way of us being with God forever (Jesus died for our sin instead of us)
- Use illustrations (eg. caterpillars / butterflies, Dumbledore's phoenix Fawkes etc.) to explain the concept of new life coming out of death
- As the grass seeds begin to sprout (remember to water them!), chat about new life and growth - link this with God making Jesus alive again, and that this new life is also for us - a new life of being friends with God and, through God's Holy Spirit, living life with Jesus right now and forever... how amazing is that?!
When is Mothers Day?
Mothers Day falls on the 2nd Sunday in May and is a great opportunity to celebrate mothers / mother figures and motherhood in general.
We want to acknowledge that for some people Mothers Day can be really hard - maybe there are unresolved relationship issues, reminders of hurt, grief, regret or deep sadness. We want to stand with you in this and acknowledge that it is not necessarily easy. We also want to celebrate those who are mothers in our midst, providing opportunities to bless and encourage you all. Our hope is that these resources will help with this.
Some helpful resources for your family
- “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” John Wesley
- “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” Jill Churchill
- [How 50 incredible mums strengthened their families](http://faithcounts.com/how-50-incredible-moms-strengthened-their-families/) - check out these responses to completing this sentence: “My mum has strengthened my faith by…” and don’t forget to wish your mum “Happy Mother’s Day” and thank her for helping you become the person you are today.
- [The Wide Spectrum of Mothering](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/wMXHda5gLcACEC1DG4v4aC3R3) - written by Amy Young and accessed from her blog [The messy middle: where grace & truth reside](https://www.messymiddle.com/)
- [Don't Mom Alone](https://dontmomalone.com/) - an invitation to with-ness - this community of resources for mums includes a bucket-load of podcasts on all sorts of topics such as marriage, child development, pride, grace. There's also the invitation to subscribe to the community for further resources.
Encouraging and inspiring videos:
- Nichole Nordeman - [Slow Down](https://youtu.be/clcNB_EUao8)
- The Hound + The Fox - [Hey Mama](https://youtu.be/AouwkxoTRmc)
- An oldie but a goodie.. check out [The Mom Song](https://youtu.be/hDMhpapZcoU)
- ...and then there's [The Mummy Rhapsody](https://youtu.be/DqbkT3PnwkQ?list=RDCXgoJ0f5EsQ)
- ...and the [Mum version of 'Let It Go'](https://youtu.be/F3je9jQf38c)
- Check out [this booklet](https://sa.uca.org.au/documents/intergen-docs/family-practices/100-Ways-to-spend-quality-time-with-your-kids.pdf) for 100 ideas of simple ways you can spend quality time with your kids
- [What mums really want for Mothers Day](https://www.momof6.com/celebrations-and-family-traditions/what-moms-really-want-for-mothers-day/) (written by a mum of 6...) - it's a great read (reviewed by a dad of 5...)!
Unfortunately we live in a world where each day there are acts of terror and violence as well as natural disasters where men, women and children are killed.
In today’s media-saturated society, many of our children are more aware of some of this violence. It is important for us to talk with our children about this violence in a way that is age appropriate and in a way that doesn’t cause them to fear. Home should be a safe place for our kids to talk about their fears and concerns, and so here are some helpful tips as you help your children with this:
- Find out what your kids know, what they have heard
- Listen to them and encourage them to express their feelings
- Don't shy away from talking about this at home at an age-appropriate level
- Reassure them and keep things in context (eg. tiny minority of people who think this way)
- Monitor your children's exposure to media, especially images and video
- Focus on the things that we can control to feel safe
- Lots of cuddles and reassurance of love
- Pray with your kids and encourage them to pray too
There are some great resources out there, and here are a few:
- Focus on the Family - [Helping kids process news reports of violence](https://www.families.org.au/article/helping-kids-process-news-reports-violence)
- Strandz NZ - [Kia Kaha (meaning 'Stay Strong')](https://www.strandz.org.nz/kia-kaha.html)
- RethinkChuch - [How to Talk with Children about Disasters](http://www.rethinkchurch.org/articles/backtoschool/how-to-talk-with-children-about-disasters)
- SBS / The Conversation - [How to talk to children about terrorism in the light of Christchurch](https://www.sbs.com.au/news/how-to-talk-to-your-children-about-terrorism-in-the-wake-of-christchurch)
- Parents.com - [How to Talk to Kids About Terrorism](http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-terrorism/)
- Faith in the News - [5 tips for talking about terrorism to children](https://faithinthenews.com/5-tips-for-talking-about-terrorism-to-children/)
- Psychology Today - [How to talk to kids about terrorism (it’s a tough conversation to have with kids but it’s important to have it)](https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201711/how-talk-kids-about-terrorism)
- The Parenting Place - [How to talk to your kids about trauma](https://www.theparentingplace.com/how-to-talk-about/world-trauma/)
- Australian Pyschological Society - [Guidelines for talking with children about terrorism](https://www.psychology.org.au/psychology-topics/talking-to-children-about-terrorism/#s2)
- Christian Today - [How should Christians talk to children about terrorism after Manchester?](https://www.christiantoday.com/article/how-should-christians-talk-to-children-about-terrorism-after-manchester/109536.htm)
How do we teach the joy of giving in a cultures that says having more stuff is what makes us happy?
This [World Vision article](https://www.worldvision.org/christian-faith-news-stories/top-5-ways-raise-generous-child-age) provides some helpful ideas and suggestions for children in the below age brackets:
- pre-schoolers (ages 3-5)
- school-age children (ages 5-11)
- teenagers (ages 12-19)
There are also additional helpful articles linked from this article including:
- [What does the Bible say about generosity?](https://www.worldvision.org/christian-faith-news-stories/what-the-bible-says-about-generosity) (World Vision article)
- [5 things that happen to your body when you’re generous and give](https://www.worldvision.org/charitable-giving-news-stories/5-things-happen-body-give) (World Vision article)
- [What Generosity Does to Your Brain and Life Expectancy](https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/05/01/what-generosity-does-to-your-brain-and-life-expectancy) (US News - Health)