I wasn’t familiar with The Jesse Tree before being asked to make felts for the advent project. Maybe it’s new to you too?
My research found several different versions, and I’ve taken lots of creative liberty in this kid-friendly set, but the basic idea–as I understand it–is a chronological countdown of the scriptural events that occurred before Jesus’s birth. Most versions I found traced Christ’s direct family history, and others just told the story of the Bible, highlighting the main events up to the Nativity scene.
So the way this advent works is, starting on December 1st, you tell part of the Biblical story–at the beginning with the creation of the world–and each day as you retell history, you place a countdown ornament which pictorially represents each account.
(The Jesse Tree gets it’s name from Isaiah 11:1, where Jesus is referred to as the stem of Jesse.)
While our family stills does Santa, presents, gingerbread men, and many of the other fun traditions that come with Christmastime–teaching our kids the “reason for the season” is as important to us and we try to spend an equal amount of time focusing on the story of Christ’s birth. As I researched, I loved that this countdown focused on the spiritual side of Christmas, and eagerly agreed to make the coordinating felties.
As I said, my version takes some creative liberty and I’ve simplified it to focus more on the easier-to-understand scriptural stories as I thought for my own kids (and even myself!) the original version was too detailed and mature. Jared and I have found as we’ve tried to teach our kids the gospel, learning the story is the first part in helping them apply the message.
How you tell the story is up to you. Read directly from the scriptures or from a children’s version you like, watch a video, or tell an embellished version with flannel board figures. The important thing is to tell the story. And if your kids are old enough to understand, help them pick out lessons they can learn and apply to themselves. The scriptures may have been written long ago, but if we learn to apply or liken them to ourselves, they can provide inspiration for the modern day challenges we face. I know this is true in my own life.
If you think this is a project you’d like to incorporate into your Christmas traditions this year, come grab the printable felties. The printable felt figures are also versatile enough to:
- Add as colorful timeline additions in your history or Sunday School lessons
- Make a Bible-themed game of memory or go fish
- Use as a sequencing activity to test your kids’ (or your own!) comprehension.
Here’s a tutorial on how I made my simple countdown pieces!!
Pssst. . . by request I created a little set of add-ons for this timeline project, and they can be downloaded for FREE here.