A new tradition I started this year that I hope to continue involves something called the Jesse Tree. I heard about it last year but didn't do it. Then at MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) this fall I heard about it again and knew it was something I wanted to start doing with Sanaa and Layla.
The Jesse Tree is a great advent activity to do with kids of all ages. It is basically the family tree of Jesus and it shows His genealogy. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1 that states "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Jesse is the father of king David and Jesus's genealogy is traced back to king David (Matthew 1).
Each day during advent there is a scripture reading and a craft that you can do with your kids. I took the easy route and just had the girls color various symbols while I read scripture. You begin reading in Genesis starting with creation and continuing through the Old Testament until you reach the coming of the Messiah. The idea is to read and learn about God's plan of salvation and teach kids the reason Jesus' birth is so important to us.
As the years continue I can add in questions and discuss the scripture we read more with the kids but for this year I just focused on reading scripture while the girls colored. Their attention span is so short that I considered it a success if that sat through the scripture reading.
Our Jesse Tree was branches from an evergreen tree that the girls then hung their colored symbols on.
This is Layla's side of the tree.
This is Sanaa's side of the tree.
In years to come I may change up how we do the tree. I liked the looked of the evergreen branches but the needles did start falling off. I could just use bare branches or I could create a paper tree to tape on our wall or window. If I put more planning into it I could also let the kids make a symbol as a craft instead of coloring.