November is here already, with Halloween out of the way and Bonfire night this weekend it just seems like the year is rushing past. It is just a few weeks until ADVENT so the blog will focus on four areas for you to work with children and young people and families in this special season.
We will begin this week with a project you can use with your local school.
8th November – Youth Work 15th November – Children’s work 22nd November – The whole church family
The Advent Experience is a programme written by Clare Williams along the same lines as the Experience Easter programme written by Gloucester Diocese. This can be used and adapted for churches to work with their local schools to re-tell the wonderful and beautiful story of Christmas from the Christian viewpoint of Advent—watching and waiting.
The idea is for schools to come and visit the local church and take part in this interactive experience. However it could also be set up in a school hall or be used in a simpler format and adapted for whatever your situation is.
The story is divided into 6 sections each with a title which forms part of a visual ‘station’. The children make a journey round the first 5 stations in small groups, and may also take part in a craft activity to support their learning. The final station ‘The Gift takes place with the whole group present. Music may be played to indicate when the groups need to move on.
The whole visit should take around an hour and three quarters. Teachers are encouraged to take part with pupils.
Each station session involves – Gathering – Opening question/thoughts – Story – Ask and think – Reflective activity – Prepare to move on and should take around 10 minutes.
It is a simple storytelling tool which works very well with primary age children. It can be used all across Foundation Phase and KS2 and is very adaptable to the needs, ages and resources of the group using it.
It also makes use of the station leaders’ own skills and experience and each ‘script’ is a guide to be used and adapted.
It is important to maintain a calm and reflective atmosphere throughout the visit. There will be a short introduction before the children are split into groups to help set the scene and let the group know your expectations of them.
Most of all it is something to experience and enjoy together!
This kind of tool is ideal if you are just starting out in your work with children and young people. It is relatively easy to set up and working with schools means you are immediately in touch with large numbers of children which may begin deeper relationships with them and their families.
To support this why not produce a leaflet advertising your Christmas services to give away to each child who visits?
Give them something extra to take away to remember their visit and talk about it with their parents at home. As usual, CPO (https://www.cpo.org.uk/range.aspx?range=3848&cat=5010&prod=V3848BL&pt=60) have some great resources including these simple luggage tags.
Why not buy them and tie them to candy canes for each child to take home at the end of the experience?
For a full list of resources needed, scripts, images etc. to deliver the experience please download it here advent-experience-resource-pack
Good luck! And let us know if you are planning an Advent Experience in your church.