Even though I no longer have little ones in the house, I bring out my Christmas picture book collection on the first day of Advent. The books are a visible reminder that God is coming in the form of a little child. They help me prepare my heart for Christmas in ways that nothing else does.
And, of course, Christmas picture books help children prepare for Christmas, too. Children love making connections between the books they love and the things they see and do in real life. These connections help what they learn in the stories take root in their hearts. So pull out the picture books, and start looking for ways to build those connections!
Here are some book activities that you can use with The Saint Nicholas Day Snow at home or at church school. And they’re not just for little ones! Tweens and teens will enjoy them as well.
The kindergarten my children attended often planned meals and snacks around the books they were reading. I thought that was a brilliant way to extend a book.
- Make pancakes for breakfast.
- Have apples and graham crackers for snack time.
- Bake cookies! Use the recipe for snowball cookies in the back of the book. Or try my recipe for traditional sugar cookies or my husband’s peanut butter cookies. If you want to make strictly Lenten cookies, use my recipe for impossible coconut cherry cookies.
If you’ve got snow, build a snowman! If there’s no snow, these crafts are fun book activities.
- Embroider a Christmas ornament for your tree, just like the ornaments on the tree in Catherine’s living room! Download your free pattern.
- Make paper snowflakes. Most of the time, paper snowflakes are made with 4 or 8 points. This page from Instructables explains the folds to make 6-pointed snowflakes.
- Make a hot chocolate mug decoration out of popsicle sticks and white glue.
If you home school your kids, these book activities let you use The Saint Nicholas Day Snow in your geography and language arts lessons.
- Place each church in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow on a world map or globe.
- Select one of the churches in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow and learn as much about it as you can. Then write a brief paper explaining what you learned, or talk about it with an adult.
- Use The Saint Nicholas Day Snow to practice literary analysis following Common Core standards.
During Advent, we increase our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as we prepare for Christ’s Nativity. You can use The Saint Nicholas Day Snow to support your children as they practice these disciplines.
- Elizabeth wanted to pray for her Nana. Your family can add prayers for the sick to your daily prayers, and pray for people in your family and in your parish who are ill.
- Get out your Pascha basket, or a laundry basket or cardboard box. (If you use a Pascha basket, it lets you explain the connection between Lent and Advent, between the Nativity and the Resurrection!) Every day during Advent, add a nonperishable food item to the basket. On the day after Christmas, take the basket to a local food bank.
Some of my favorite Christmas picture books: There are so many wonderful, beautiful picture books to share with your children during Advent and Christmas. Here are a few of my favorites.
Looking for the real St. Nicholas: How can you tell which of the old men with white beards and red robes is the real St. Nicholas?
Four tips for fasting as a family: Sarah Wright, who blogs at Orthodox Motherhood, shares her tips for the Advent fast.