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PARTY AIM:To give parents, carers and children the chance to hear the Christmas story and respond in some way.
BACKGROUND: This party plan is Santa-Rudolf-Christmas- tree-free so that children and parents hear the Bible’s version of the Christmas story. Do your best to exclude features that are entirely secular and consider using a crib scene if one is available. Children like to handle figures of animals and people, deciding where to place them.
You will need: hats and scarves for everyone
Gather the children in a circle, each wearing a hat and scarf. Tell this story:
Long before we had washing machines people washed clothes by hand, squeezing out the water, then drying damp clothes on a washing line or resting them on a bush in the garden. Pretend to do this.
Mary was a young woman who lived a long time ago. If she wanted to wash her scarf she would have had to do it like this. Encourage the children to copy you as you rub the ends of scarf together, pretend to squeeze out the water and hang it over an imaginary bush or washing line.
One day, while she was washing her scarf, Mary heard a rustle behind her. She turned around and…it was an angel, bright and shimmering! What a surprise! “It’s OK, Mary. Don’t be afraid. You’re going to have a very special baby, a boy. You’re to call him Jesus. He’s from God.”
Very soon Mary’s baby began to grow inside her. Does anyone know someone whose tummy is getting bigger because they’re having a baby?
Just before the baby was due, Mary’s husband Joseph said the emperor had ordered them to travel to Bethlehem. It would take several days to walk there. Mary packed her bag. Roll your hat and scarf into a bundle and put into an imaginary bag.
It was a long, long way. Lay out your scarf in a straight line. Slowly start walking your fingers along the scarf.
“Keep going, Mary!” Joseph said. “I know you’re tired, but keep going!”
By the time they got to Bethlehem Mary was very tired. The baby was coming soon. There wasn’t much room, so they had to settle down where the animals lived. That’s where Mary’s baby was born. She called him Jesus. She wrapped him up and laid him on a bed of straw. Wrap your scarf around your hat.
It was cold outside that night. Shepherds were looking after their sheep on the hills above Bethlehem. Wrap your scarf around your neck. Put on the hat.
Suddenly, a bright light flashed all round. Pull your hat down over your eyes. A bright angel said: “It’s OK. Don’t be afraid. A very special baby has been born today. He’s from God. Go and find him in Bethlehem, lying on a bed of straw.”
Then there was loud, excited singing and more bright flashes. Wave your scarf around and shout: “Hurrah!”
It went dark. The shepherds jumped up and ran all the way to Bethlehem. Put your hat and scarf on and run on the spot. They found the baby lying on a bed of straw, just as the angel had said. Wrap the hat in the scarf again. This made them so happy.
Around the same time some very wise men were studying the stars, high in the sky. As they did this they became sure that a baby king was about to be born and they wanted to see him. It would mean taking a very long journey. Stretch out a scarf and begin to slowly walk your fingers along it. One bright star in the sky kept moving, showing them the way to where the baby king was. They followed it.
At last the star stopped over a house in Bethlehem. It was where Jesus was living with his mum and dad. These wise men were so happy to have found the baby king. They went inside and offered their special presents to Jesus. Place your folded hat in cupped hands, then lift your hands up to offer the ‘gift’. They were amazed. He really was so special. He was from God.
Sing ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’, ‘Large, bright star’ or ‘Happy birthday Jesus.’ Or try these songs:
‘Baby born in Bethlehem’ (to the tune of ‘Mary had a little lamb’)
Baby born in Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
Baby born in Bethlehem. Born on Christmas Day. Mother Mary cares for him… Shepherds run to visit him…
Wise men bring their gifts to him…Born for you and me.
‘We follow the star to Bethlehem’ (to the tune of ‘The wheels on the bus’)
We follow the star to Bethlehem, Bethle- hem, Bethlehem.
We follow the star to Bethlehem, to find the special baby.
The star shines over Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
We’ve found the special baby.
We’ll go inside to give him gifts, give him gifts, give him gifts.
He’s the special baby.
From Tiddlywinks My Big Red Book (Scripture Union); used with permission.
OPTION 1: To Bethlehem
Sing ‘Here we go off to Bethlehem’ to the tune of ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’. Skip, hop, walk, walk sideways, jump and crawl in a circle. You could use a parachute and encourage the children to
cross underneath it in different ways as you lift it high in the air.
OPTION 2: Star hunt
You will need: card stars; A4 card; art materials
Hide stars for the children to find, then turn them into Christmas cards by sticking them onto folded card and decorating them.
Choose some of the ideas from Craft (page 60 or here) or one of the following activities.
OPTION 1: Christmas tree decoration
You will need: five-pointed card stars; a hole punch; shredded paper; glitter; glue; sticky stars; felt; ribbon or twine
Give everyone a star with a hole punched through the point at the top. Stick shredded paper into the bottom two points to make straw. Scatter glitter and gold stars onto the other three points. Stick a strip of felt on top of the ‘straw’ and a circle of felt for Jesus’ head. Thread glittery twine or ribbon through the hole.
OPTION 2: Potato angel
You will need: potatoes; a knife; paint in different colours; A3 paper
Give out A3 paper with the outline of a large isosceles triangle drawn on it for the angel’s body. Cut out different shapes from potatoes and show the children how to dip them into the paint and make prints on the paper. Encourage everyone to create a head and decorate their angel.
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