Using books with children at home

"A Jesse Tree for Advent" by Rachel Nicholls

For the past few years we have used 'A Jesse Tree for Advent' by Rachel Nicholls in our Christmas preparations. This book is based on 15 of Jesus' antecedents. There is a story for each character, or pair of characters, followed by a 'wondering' question and a short prayer. At the back of the book there are photocopiable symbols to accompany each story.

There are enough stories for us to read one most week nights in Advent. We then either colour card photocopies or make our own symbols, think about the wondering question, and finally say the prayer as we hang the symbol on our "Jesse branch".

In past years we have used a bundle of twisted willow and a Christmas bauble holder to display the symbols. We draped the willow with fairy lights, and placed battery candles around the bauble holder - lighting an extra candle each day.

This year we sat down on stir-up Sunday and made a complete set of symbols in advance, as it was getting tricky to fit the symbol-making in alongside homework and music practice. It was lovely to hear the children remembering who each symbol belonged to and what their story was about. I have laminated the symbols, and we might write or draw prayers on the back using OHP pens.