"There are only two components to creating a Living Advent Wreath – the candle capes and the circular wreath to lay on the floor – and as many ways to use it as you, or your students, can think up!"
Acting Out Advent
Advent is a time of quiet introspection. But that being said, children in Sunday school will also benefit from some kinesthetic learning. The Living Advent Wreath is an idea from St Mark's, San Antonio, TX. It requires some work ahead of time making the costumes, but the results are worth it. Also, the Living Advent Wreath can be used year after year, with a variety of ages and settings. The basic idea is that you have four children pretend to be candles around an Advent wreath.
There are only two components to creating a Living Advent Wreath – the candle capes and the circular wreath to lay on the floor – and as many ways to use it as you, or your students, can think up!
Making the Candle Capes
You will need to create four capes that the children will wear to be candles. These should be simple, and of sizes that can be worn by a variety of children. Match the color of your candle capes to the color of the Advent candles your church uses. Each cape has a yellow cap/hood that will be the flame, as you "light" each candle weekly.
Directions for making a simple, hooded cape can be found online. For example, this site has directions for a simple fabric cape with hood: Cape for Red Riding Hood.
Making the Wreath
Your candles will need to be placed on a 'wreath.' Your wreath can be marked out with tape on the floor, or made out of carpet squares or colored paper. If you prefer to make a fabric wreath, you'll need several yards of fabric. Follow the same directions for the cape, linked above, stopping at the point where you have a round circle of fabric. Or follow the directions below.
1. Cut your fabric into a perfect square.
2. Fold your square two times, making a smaller square.
3. Place your tape measure at the folded corner of your square and measure down the folded length of the square. Marking at even intervals, rotate your tape measure from one folded edge to the other, ending at the bottom of the opposite edge. When you connect your markings, you should have a quarter-arc marked on your square.
4. Cut along your marking, and when you unfold your square, you will have a perfect circle.
5. Mark and cut a second, interior circle for your wreath.
Using Your Living Advent Wreath
Once you have created the supplies, you can do the living Advent Wreath activity in whatever way will work best for your group. Have groups of four children gather around the wreath, and depending on which Sunday of Advent you are in, "light" the proper number of candles. You can incorporate music, prayers, and an opening and closing liturgy. Think about how you will choose children to be the candles, allowing everyone to have a turn, as they wish.
The idea for this post comes from Gail Jackins, while she was ministering at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in San Antonio. Gail grew up in Northern Maine, so her friends refer to her as a Mainiac. She has a B.S. from the University of Maine at Orono and an M.Ed from Boston College. Gail is now the Family Minister at St. Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.