Christmas Resources for First Day Schools

Religious Education

2-candlesAt Christmastime, as at other times of the year, Friends look for programs that reflect values of inclusivity and simplicity values of Friends at Christmastime.  Many meetings make up their own programs and curricula and others use books that tell stories of the meaning of Christmas.  Below is an annotated list of some favorites as well as the introduction to “Christmas Programs with a Twist,” an old collection of programs used by Middletown Meeting.

 


Christmas-Programs-with-a-Twist-coverChristmas Programs With A Twist

BY ELINOR BRIGGS

Brief Description:

Nine simple-to-produce plays and pagents.

From the Introduction:

Middletown Meeting has known fat times and lean times as to membership and numbers of children.  We have always, as long as I can remember, had a good time together once a month and especially at Christmas. 

As a small child I can recall Christmas as a time that a group of adults put on a play; usually humorous.  Sometimes it didn’t even have much to do with Christmas but it was fun. 

When the number of children swelled to a goodly crowd, the task of putting on a program fell to the Religious Education Committee.  There has always been a wide variety in our programs: from tableaus, musicals, plays and shadow plays to candelight carol services.

The last few years we have, again, a small group of children, varying in age and with uncertain attendance at First Day School.  Added to that is the fact that our membership is now widely scattered and often has a long distance to come to meeting.  But our “socials” (once a month get-togethers) must go on! Christmas Socials are especially important because that is the time when most of our families are home and it is helpful to have a good reason to get together.

Therefore we started an intergenerational program of audience participation with carol singing; anyone can have the fun of participating – anyone who enjoys being in a play, who likes to pain simple scenery or make props.  Children and adults are all involved.

Once we got started on this idea it has worked well, requiring the minimum of time and effort for most and as much as you feel like doing for the rest.  One key ingredient is spontaneity; these plays grew out of the interests and skills of the group.

download a PDF of this vintage curriculum

joyGreat Joy

BY KATE DICAMILLO, ILLUSTRATED BY BAGRAM IBATOULLINE

Brief Description:
It is just before Christmas when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street corner outside Frances’s apartment. Frances can see them from her window and, sometimes, when it’s quiet, she can hear their music. In fact, Frances can’t stop thinking about them, especially after she sees the man and his monkey sleeping outside on the cold street at midnight. When the day of the Christmas pageant arrives, and it’s Frances’s turn to speak, everyone waits silently. But all Frances can think about is the organ grinder’s sad eyes – until, just in time, she finds the perfect words to share.

jesus-demiJesus

BY DEMI

Presented in the language of the New Testament from the King James Version of the Bible, this inspirational picture book biography takes readers from Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary to Jesus’s crucifixion. Full color.

lightThe Light Of The World: The Life Of Jesus For Children

BY KATHERINE PATERSON, ILLUSTRATED BY FRANCOIS ROCA

Brief Description:
Katherine Paterson retells the life of Jesus in simple, beautiful language for all ages, making the story new again through her trademark generosity and compassion. When the people looked at all the sadness and evil in the world, they had trouble believing that God was in charge. God’s kingdom, said Jesus, is as tiny as the smallest of seeds, but when it is planted it grows into such a huge tree that the birds make their nests in its branches.

angelOn Angel Wings

BY MICHAEL MORPURGO, ILLUSTRATED BY QUENTIN BLAKE

Brief Description:
“I bring you news of great joy. For tonight, in Bethlehem, a child has been born, a savior who is Christ the Lord.” When the shepherds are invited to follow the star to visit the child, one young boy is told to stay and mind the flock. But the Angel Gabriel returns for him, taking the boy on a magical, memorable flight to be the first to witness the Christmas miracle. With a gently wry narration by Michael Morpurgo and expressive illustrations by the extraordinary Quentin Blake, this inviting, uplifting story is destined to become a holiday tradition.

100-holidayHundred Dollar HolidayThe Case For A More Joyful Christmas

BY BILL MCKIBBEN

Brief Description:
Many dread the approach of the holidays, a season that should be the most relaxed, intimate, joyful time of year. McKibben shows how to rethink Christmastime, so that our obsession with present-buying becomes less important than the many other possible traditions & celebrations. Working with their churches, Bill and his colleagues found people were hungry for a more joyful Christmas. Trying to limit the money they spent at Christmas to about $100 per family was a spur to creativity – and an anchor against the onslaught of commercials & catalogs that try to say Christmas is only Christmas if it’s store-bought. McKibben shows us how to return to a simpler, more enjoyable holiday.

Thanks to QuakerBooks of FGC for the brief descriptions provided above.

dream-smallSimplify the Holidays

BY CENTER FOR THE NEW AMERICAN DREAM

Want your holidays wrapped in more meaning — and less stuff?  The holidays, meant to be a time of peace, reflection, and celebration, too often exhaust rather than uplift us.  This year, you don’t have to rack up credit card debt or get swept up in the season’s commercialism. Instead, consider creating holidays that instill more meaning into the season and encourage more sharing, laughter, creativity, and personal renewal.  With New Dream’s Simplify the Holidays campaign, you have some tools to get started.