Advent Readings for the Very Young

In early November 2011 I began to think and pray about the Christmas season and how to help our little ones understand its meaning.  I also wanted to give them as a Christmas gift a manger scene that they could play with for a long time and use to reenact the story of the birth of Jesus. We finally chose one made by Playmobil(e). Then I went hunting for some Advent readings that we could use during Bible time each evening that the girls might understand. Ideally I wanted readings that would introduce the figures in the scene day-by-day, to build the sense of anticipation for Jesus’s coming and to help us take a closer look at the whole story together.

After some time of being unable to find just what we had in mind, Alex and I decided to write a series of Advent reflections for our girls. We found that planning and writing this series together led us to rejoice anew in the great gift of Jesus Christ. For each day of Advent we wrote an extremely brief reading and prayer to use as a family and then Alex planned Bible readings on the same themes for us to do together after the children were in bed. Though Advent often begins on the last Sunday in November, we will begin on December 1 and have 24 days of readings.

We have put the readings on this blog in case any readers are interested in using them as well. If you’re interested, please feel free–we’d love to have you join us.

Want to print the readings? Here is a PDF/complete printable text: Advent Readings For the Very Young

This is a list of the pieces we will introduce each day:
December 1. The (Empty) Stable: Waiting for Jesus Then and Now
December 2. The Green Plants: God is the Giver of Life and the Restorer of the World
December 3. The First Sheep: We Have All Gone Astray
December 4. The Lamb: Jesus Died to Save Us
December 5. The Lantern: Jesus Is the Light of the World
December 6. The First Wise Man: God Promised a Great King
December 7. The Second Wise Man: Jesus Is the Promised King–Over All the World
December 8. Mary: The Angel Comes to Mary
December 9. The First Angel: His Name Shall Be Jesus
December 10. The Dove: God Sends Jesus by the Holy Spirit
December 11. Joseph: The Angel Visits Joseph; Jesus Is Immanuel
December 12. The Donkey: The Journey to Bethlehem
December 13. The Cow: There Was No Room for Them in the Inn
December 14. The Second Sheep: The Lost Sheep: Jesus Came to Find Us
December 15. The First Shepherd: His Sheep Know His Voice
December 16. The Second Shepherd (or Shepherd’s Staff): The Shepherds Come to Jesus
December 17. The Second Angel (Angel’s Wand): Good News of Great Joy for All People
December 18. The Star: Jesus’ Birth Is a Cosmic Event
December 19. The Third Wise Man: The Whole World Needs to Hear About Jesus
December 20. The Camel: The Wise Men Come to Jesus
December 21. Gifts #1: The Wise Men Bring Gifts to Jesus the King
December 22. Gifts #2: Why Do We Give Gifts at Christmas?
December 23. The (Empty) Manger: Jesus the Servant King
December 24. The Baby Jesus: Jesus is Born!
December 25. {We read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke}

101 Responses to Advent Readings for the Very Young

  1. Pingback: Advent Readings for the Very (Very) Young: List of Themes | part of the main

  2. Angela, from S.D. says:

    Thank you for writing the Advent Readings for the Very (Very) Young. My family (and my 3 year old) enjoyed them. We hope to us them for the next few years, as it was a good way to introduce my 3 year to the true meaning of Christmas. Happy Holidays.

    • betsy says:

      Thank you, Angela, we’re so glad you enjoyed them! We learned a lot writing them and reading them to our three year old, too. Happy holidays to you!

  3. Pingback: happy Christmas | part of the main

  4. Nikki says:

    Oh goodness! I wish I would have seen these earlier. I’ve not been on my feed reader as much, and missed out. I tried to go through Ann Voskamp’s readings this year, which are wonderful, but waaaaay far over my little ones’ heads. 🙂 I will remember this for next year. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Emily G. says:

    Wow, this is amazing! I was trying to find good, solid, biblical but easy to understand advent readings for my almost three year old. After hours of googling around the internet, I stumbled across your wonderful blog. THANK YOU so much for taking the time to do these and then share them so others can enjoy them, bless you! I am quite excited to do these with me daughter this Christmas. 🙂

  6. These days before Advent had been looking for readings and find a different way to make this special time with my kids. Thanks for sharing these stories and Bible readings. Your blog is a blessing. My kids will enjoy these Advent meditations.

  7. Emma says:

    Betsy, these are lovely, thank you for sharing xxx

  8. Jennifer says:

    This is wonderful. Do you think you could compile it all into one post or pdf so we can print it all at once?

    • betsy says:

      This is a great idea, Jennifer, and I should have done it. I plan to revise/improve the readings in the near future, and will try to compile them in one place then. If you plan to use them I am sorry to put you to the trouble of copy/paste/printing it all–I hope you still find them helpful.

      • Jennifer says:

        I definitely find them helpful-thank you! We’ve been using it with my 22 month old and our Little People Nativity-things don’t line up exactly but they’re close enough. Thank you so much for this wonderful resource!

  9. Thank you so much for posting this idea and all the readings! I found your blog from the link you posted on the feminagirls site. This activity has been an incredible blessing to our family! I wrapped each piece of the nativity set and every night we sit around the table, open the evening’s “gift,” and read the corresponding reading. I love the meaning this brings to the holiday season and it is such a great way to share our faith with our little ones (ages 3 and 2). Thanks again, Michelle.

    • betsy says:

      Thank you so much for your encouragement! We’re so blessed to know that the readings are useful to others with little ones. Enjoy this amazing season!

  10. Cindy says:

    When my children were young they loved Playmobile. I saved it all and now my 2 year old grandson plays with it. I have been thinking about how to do simple Advent devotions with him this year and came across this post. This inspired me to order the Playmobile Nativity set and use these devotions. They are perfect for us.

  11. Lori says:

    For HOURS I have been searching the web and for a book of simple readings to use with our three children during Advent. I stumbled upon this, and it is exactly what I had in mind. Thank you for sharing this. What a blessing.

  12. Thank you so very much for sharing. I am mother of two boys, 2.5 years old and 9 months old. Coincidentally, I am also wife of a PhD student who (we hope) will finish in 2014. We will be using these readings this year. Blessings to you!

    • betsy says:

      Thank you so much for commenting, Morgan. I’m so glad you can use the readings! And press on with the PhD–I know what a task it can be–for you both. Blessings on your husband’s work–and on yours!

  13. Holly says:

    Hi! Did you buy the Playmobile Nativity & the Wisemen set? Wasn’t sure what all I needed to order! Thanks so much!! holly

    • betsy says:

      Hi Holly,
      We used the Playmobile nativity. You may want to check to see if it’s the biggest set, they have some smaller versions out there. Even the biggest nativity doesn’t come with the three wisemen and the camel, this is an extra little set. Hope this helps! Merry Christmas!

    • Cindy says:

      Holly, Maybe you already figured this out but I bought the Playmobile Nativity Set and did not realize the Wisemen came in a different set. Fortunately I was able to quickly find and order the Wisemen set and get it shipped fast. Just a tip for you or anyone else wondering about that!

  14. Ana says:

    Thank you very much, I have 3 kids all grown up and the outcome of there adult hood did not turn out very well (which puts me to tears every time I think of it). I am now guardian of my 3 year old grand daughter and I am really trying to give her a different type of teaching in life hoping that maybe things will be very different for her and that we can break the cycle of what happened with my kids. I started doing the advent calendar last year and the nativity barn but did not have any of this great stories to go with it or any animals or kings men. I will look for the Playmobile Nativity also. I am starting a day late with the story but it will be fine. I will also look into your Easter readings, Thank you so much!!

    Merry Christmas!

    • betsy says:

      Dear Ana,
      Thank you for this comment and for sharing your story. I can really identify with what you shared–because the truth is, we are all in the same situation. If we don’t have Jesus, it doesn’t matter what we do, how we were parented, or how we parent. We stand in desperate need of a savior from our sin and from ourselves. The good news is that there IS a savior, God sent him to that stable long ago for you, for me, and for your granddaughter. If you are seeking to help her on her life path, you are doing the best thing, the only thing, by pointing her to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. May God bless your efforts as you seek to do that this Christmas! I’ll be praying for you, your granddaughter, and for your children also.

  15. Katie says:

    Thank you for this! I’ve had a hard time finding a reading meant for preschool age children. Merry Christmas!:)

  16. Amy E says:

    Thanks for the Advent Readings! It was exactly what we were looking for. =)

  17. Annie says:

    Hi Betsy,

    Thank you so much for this. I was looking for something to do with my littles and this perfectly fit the bill. Thanks for all the effort you put into it and for sharing with us. I shared it on my facebook wall with the button you have at the bottom of the post. Hope that is okay.

    • betsy says:

      I’m delighted that the readings will help. You are very welcome to share it, that’s why we put it up–we’re so encouraged by others using it. Merry Christmas to you!

  18. David Vokoun says:

    Thanks for the post. I’ll be using these with my three (very) young children this year.

  19. Jason Bruce says:

    Betsy- I appreciate this post on Advent. I found it via Google search. My wife and I are using it with our two young kids. Very helpful in introducing them to the true story of Christmas. Simple, quick and well written. It deserves a bookmark. Keep on writing. You’re good at it. God bless you and your husband.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    This is great! Very well laid out . Good reading for my 7 year old, the whole family enjoyed!

  21. Heather says:

    Just wanted to thank you for these amazing advent readings! Thank you for taking the time to make them and to share them with us. 🙂 we are going through them with our 6, 4 and 2 yr old boys and it’s great to have something to show them each day. We are really enjoying it! Thanks again 🙂

  22. Chandra says:

    This is going to be a very helpful tool in 2015 for Advent. My two year old daughter celebrated Advent for the second year and this year she understood more than last year. In 2015 I hope to teach her even more and expand on my knowledge of the nativity and wrap each item up for her to open up again in 2015. Her father and I decided to buy her the Little People sets of Bethlehem so we will do some additions but this is a great starting point. We bought book to go along with the characters that tell beautiful stories but next year 2015 we are going to focus more on the biblical text. Thanks so much for publishing this blog.



  23. Joann says:

    Thanks so much for making this easy for me. We work in Sierra Leone and I haven’t done much with Advent since our children were small. I needed a simple outline to work from to aid in my Sunday School plan. God bless and I hope your ministry in Asia is a blessing to you as well..Joann

  24. Sara says:

    Hello Betsy! Hope you all are doing well! I was just talking to Matt about wanting to do some sort of Biblical advent with our son even though he is young as a way of teaching him and preparing our own hearts for Christmas. Imagine my surprise when one of the first links I saw in my Google search was one from a friend : ) I’m so excited to read through these! Thank you and God bless!

    • betsy says:

      Hello dear Sara! I’m delighted if you guys and your little Mr. T can use these! Thank you for your encouragement–it was great to hear from you! Merry Christmas!

  25. Krista says:

    Thank you so much. These look amazing! We are definitely going to try to incorporate them into our readings this year.

  26. Rachel says:

    I just stumbled upon this looking for something to do with our 2 and 1/2 and 4 year old. Truly was meant to be…. I have the Playmobil nativity and had been debating pulling it out this year due to my kiddos still being a bit young for it. Thank you thank you for this. It will be so much more special pulling it out this year doing it along side the readings you provided!!

  27. Rachel Watkins says:

    I’m so thrilled to have found this. We also have two girls that are very young. This resource has already provided a rich family devotional time. Thanks so much! Blessings to you. You have blessed our family.
    Watkins Family in VA

  28. shirley says:

    We just bought the playmobil set too for our 3.5 and 5yo. It’s a bit different now (no second lamb, includes some wheat – maybe I can make it Jesus – Bread of Life), etc. But your resource is awesome! Looking forward to starting tomorrow. Thanks from California!

  29. Love this. Have not read each entry yet. May I link on my blog?

  30. Charity Johnson says:

    Thank you for this! I’ll be using this as a discussion starter for our family since our kids’ ages range from 9.5yrs to 2mo 🙂

  31. Meghan McFadden says:

    Betsy!! Colleen recommended these advents readings, which we started tonight. Caden (4) and Colin (2) loved it and are excited to find out what comes tomorrow. We don’t have the same nativity set, but I just printed out some pictures that correspond, and we’ll add a new one to our wall each day. 🙂 Thank you for creating this resource to help us anticipate Jesus’ coming. Hope you all are well. Love & blessings!!

  32. Emily G says:

    This is our 4th year doing your wonderful Advent series and I just love it and wanted to say thank you again for putting this together and sharing it! It works well for our three children and is a blessing to me also!

  33. Amy says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write down (and share) this wonderful way to present the Advent Season!!! There are so many lessons here that even the “not so young” can learn too!!! Thank you for all the work in looking up the Bible verses and how each piece of the Christmas story works together as a part of God’s greater plan!!! may God bless you, as you have been a blessing to me and so many others!!! THANK YOU!!!! 🙂

    • betsy says:

      Dear Amy, thank you for taking the time to comment and let us know you have enjoyed the readings–what an everlasting Joy we all share in Jesus!!

  34. Lori says:

    This has been great for our family this year! I’m amazed how much my 4 1/2 year old daughter plays with the nativity set each day! It looks like Playmobil redesigned the set since your blog post. We just have 1 sheep, 1 lamb. Any ideas on what to do for the “2nd Sheep” day?? Thank you so much for sharing this! I can see this being a part of our family tradition for many years!

    • betsy says:

      Hi Lori, thank you for your encouraging comment! I didn’t know that play mobile changed the set, I guess you could wrap up one of the little items that comes with the stable (the sack of grain, a basket, etc) and say it belongs to the shepherd, then talk about shepherds as written for that day? Not sure but I hope you can find something that works! Merry Christmas!!

  35. Wow great effort.I was looking for something like this for a long time.U have been using the readings for my 10 year old son who writes the readings if each day on a sticky note and we are preparing a Christmas tree on the door with the notes.
    Thanks and God bless 🙂

  36. Claudia Kauffman says:

    I was looking for advent readings for young ones and came across your blog. Yours worked wonderfully. We have a variety of ages (5,7,11, and 15) and was originally thinking it would be something for the younger two and the older two could be good sports and help lead but all four enjoyed taking turns reading and praying together and mom and dad loved the family time. Thank you for sharing. Blessings:)

  37. Anna Katherine Wyatt says:

    Oh, I’m so excited to do this with my almost 3 year old and 14 month old this Christmas! Am I correct that we need to get the Nativity set and the separate wise man set to have all the pieces?

  38. Erin Goertzen says:

    Thank you so VERY much for the time and effort you put into this. I have purchased this exact nativity set for my kids and was looking for some daily advent readings to go along with it. This is perfect!

  39. Cathie Kessler says:

    Thank you so very much, from a mom who would like to be on top of these things, but really can’t!

    I found your page last year, and I bought the Paymobil set. As others have mentioned, the set is slightly different now (no second sheep, no dove), and I don’t remember what modifications I made last year, but Advent was short, with Christmas on a Friday, so I may have just skipped those days. This year, Christmas is on a Sunday, and Advent is as long as it can be: I have a whole four extra days that I will have to fill!

    I think after “Day1, empty stable,” we’ll v-e-r-y slowly furnish the stable with the benches and potted plants. 🙂 Maybe we’ll read some Genesis stories.

    Thanks again!

    • betsy says:

      Thanks for your encouraging comment, Cathie! And the creative ideas for how to make the readings fit the season!! Blessings!

      • Cathie Kessler says:

        Update, if anyone is searching for four more stories and related items. (Betsy, please delete, if you feel any of it is inappropriate.)

        Day 1a: Palm tree; Creation story.
        Day 2a: Basket of figs; Garden of Eden (and I’m removing mention of Adam and Eve from Day2 discussion)
        Day 2b: Birds in a basket; Noah’s Ark
        Day 9a: Benches, jugs, broom; The Visitation

        Also, I’ve made the following substitutions for missing items from the old set.

        Day10 (dove): fire
        Day14 (second sheep): shepherd’s satchel (requires Day15 to come first)

        I wish you all a thoughtful Advent and a peaceful and joyous Christmas.

      • betsy says:

        These are great suggestions. Thank you, Cathie!

    • betsy says:

      Thanks for this encouraging comment, Cathie! May God bless you and yours this Advent season!

  40. Jen says:

    This is awesome! What figurines do you use? Did you buy a set that has all of these in it?

    • betsy says:

      I use the playmobil(e) sets for the nativity–including the little add-on set that has the wise men and the camel. But you can use ANYTHING–even just pictures or drawings. Or chocolate. 🙂 Blessings on you and yours this Advent season!

      • Jen says:

        Thank U so much! I had no idea of this set but just got it on Amazon! We can’t wait to start! Will you be posting suggestions of what to do on days where we cannot do your original suggestion. Like second sheep, etc? Also do u have any recommendations of books to use along with this? We read nightly and needed suggestions of books (besides scripture reading) that are appropriate for 3/4 year old that help elobarte the story of Christmas. Thank you for your help!

  41. This is amazing. I bought the same set and am looking forward to starting this tradition with my just-turned-two-year-old and my five-days-shy-of-four-year-old. Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

  42. Thank you so much for sharing this! I was in your same situation, wanting something for my younger son to be able to understand while everything I could find seemed geared towards older kids. It brought tears to my eyes to find something he’ll understand, and to know that other parents wrote it. Thank you again. I’m so excited to start tomorrow!

  43. Thank you so much! I have been looking for years for a meaningful advent activity for my kids. This is perfect!!!

  44. Crystal says:

    A friend of mine recently found this and shared it on Facebook. I’m so glad she did! This is a great resource for those of us who have young children!

  45. Anna says:

    I was able to find a second sheep and dove on eBay for really cheap! Just an idea for all of you looking 🙂

  46. Lauren says:

    After looking for an online advent for my children, I stumbled across yours. It’s wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to post and share. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  47. Belinda says:

    Thank you so much for this lovely list. Every year I look for a new Advent activity to do with my son – this year we’ll be using yours. Bless you.

  48. Maya says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this idea with us ; I used it last year as a reading list with my son and it was a blessing . This year I’m planing to build it piece by piece with my two kids . Have a very merry blessed Christmas

  49. Hannah says:

    Thanks for this, I have a two year old who is loving the advent story and the idea of baby jesus, I have printed out some images to go with it that I will hopefully laminate and Velcro to then stick onto a felt mat each day so she can play with them if she wants 🙂

  50. Deb M says:

    Thank you for writing this. This is our first year celebrating advent as a family, and our four year old is loving the devotionals each night, asking, “Can we do advent now?” And I love how the gospel is so clearly woven throughout (I feel like that might be a given for advent … but sometimes it’s not!) God bless you and your family. Praise Jesus, our king who came and is coming again!!

  51. Lucy Hutton says:

    Thank you for the advent readings Betsy. We’ve been using them for the last six years and they’ve become part of our Christmas traditions. We all look forward to building up the scene and listening to the readings. Thank you x

  52. HI Betsy, I really liked your advent readings. This year the children and youth of my church are going to be presenting the advent message to the congregation each Sunday. I would like to use parts of your readings to create a condensed Advent “Program”. I also have a subscription based Christian Website called I would love to use the newly created program on the website and was wondering if I could get your permission to do so. I would of course reference your blog as the source and would give you a free year’s subscription. Please let me know your thoughts.

  53. Melody Inglesby says:

    Thank you! I have been looking for a very long time for Advent readings that my children (3 and 7) could easily understand. You are a blessing. I’m blind so I took your PDF and transcribed it into Braille and also looked up the Bible readings and pasted them into the lessons so I wouldn’t have to look them up each time. I used the Children’s International Bible for the Bible readings. I really do appreciate all you have done. I just need to find the Manger that you used. Right now we have the manger that was made by Fisher-Price and I think it will do for now. Thanks again.

  54. Kristin says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I plan to use this year. I love that I can use my children’s nativity set as concrete objects to help keep them interested. We have the Little People version. I appreciate the time and effort that went into creating this, and your willingness to share!

  55. Sarah says:

    Thank you. I am using it for the 2018 season.

  56. Kerri says:

    Thank you so much! I have been looking for exactly what you have done. I appreciate the hard work you have put into this!

  57. Renee Edmondson says:

    Nearly a decade later, I can see in the comments how many Christmases were made special by your Advent reading plan. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  58. shannon says:

    This is an amazing resource, just what I have been looking for to share with our church families. Is it alright for me to post these on our kids ministry (private account) page as an advent countdown? Thank you.

  59. Annie R says:

    Thank you so much Betsy, we are so excited to start using this today. We don’t have a nativity set so we’ve got a canvas and each child will add to the drawing – should make a sweet keepsake. May the Lord bless you! Have a wonderful advent season and blessed Christmas!

  60. Becci says:

    Brilliant. Thank you for sharing this. We have a fabric advent calendar and I was looking for advent reflections I could print out and include (alongside a sneaky chocolate) that would be suitable for my little one. Last year I tried reading snippets from a J.John christmas compendium but it was just a bit too long to hold the interest of all the family (fascinating for me though). What you have created seems ideal and I look forward to sharing it come December.

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