Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Week of Christ-Centered Christmas Countdowns: The Jesse Tree

This is another new Christmas tradition for me.  I've heard people talk about the Jesse Tree quite a bit over the last couple of years, but I never really knew what it was.  When I looked into it last year, I decided it was a little too old for my boys (based on the devotional I found for it).  Then when I was making a giganto order from Oriental Trading Co. (might as well get the free shipping, right?  ;), I saw a little kid's version of the Jesse Tree and decided to buy it.
Jesse Tree Bulletin Board Set
Now, in case you're unfamiliar with the Jesse Tree as I was, it's basically a Christmas countdown that begins with Creation and focuses on stories leading up to Jesus' birth that point to his coming.  I love looking at the big picture of the Bible, so I love looking at the prophecies and stories that give us a glimpse of our Savior.  I was thrilled that such a kid-friendly version had come out, but when I started looking through it, I realized that it doesn't match up really well with most of the devotional and Scripture readings I've found and was interested in using.  I discovered that the Scriptures and stories used vary about as much as the available resources out there and I wasn't overly impressed with the Oriental Trading Co. version.  :/

But, I love the little tree it came with and I want to get some use out of it, so here's my plan:

I'm going to use the reading plan/symbols found here.  This link has free printables to be colored that are simple and VERY preschool friendly in their look.  At the end of the printout is a page with all the days in December and a list of Scriptures and symbols that correspond.  I'll use my Oriental Trading Co. tree poster for the boys to hang their ornaments on this year, but there are some really neat ideas for using your family's Christmas tree, a large branch from a tree outside, or making your own fun tree out of pieces of wood like this one.

I plan to read the passages of Scripture outlined in the passage, but since the point of the project is to trace the history of the Bible leading up to Christ and show how the Old Testament points to him, I may also read stories that match up from The Jesus Storybook Bible as well since all the stories are wrapped up with a paragraph anticipating the coming Messiah (and I think it might help the boys make the connection of what this is all about a little better).  I'll have the boys color the symbols while we talk about them and hang them on the tree.  I was feeling ambitious the other night and thought about writing out short devotions to be used with preschoolers to go along with it, but I think I've decided that's a good idea for another year and a different season of life.  :)

Here's a few other sites I found with slightly different reading plans and symbols that you might be interested in looking into:
A Holy Experience (if you subscribe to her site, she'll send you the advent e-book for free, complete with printable ornaments that are already colored)
Reformed Church in America (I found this reading plan and free printable ornaments plan plus some other great links to Jesse Tree kits you can purchase in this post from Desiring Virtue)

This Christmas countdown could be free if you use a site with the paper printables or a little pricey if you decided to make or purchase fancier ornaments.  Either way, I've changed my mind that it's only for older kids and adults and am excited to see what Isaac and Silas learn this year as we study the stories that point to the coming of a Savior.

Just like the Advent Wreath, the Jesse Tree is fairly new to me.  If your family uses the Jesse Tree, do you have a recommendation on which devotional resources to use or where you can find great ornaments?


  1. I had heard of the Jesse tree but also thought that my kids were not old enough for it. We are already doing the Truth in the Tinsel again this year but I'm thinking that the Jesse Tree might work well for us next year. Thanks for the information!

    1. Yes, I'm thinking it may become an every other year thing for us where we switch back and forth between the two. I love the focus of each, but I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle both at once. :)

  2. My best friend introduced me to the Jesse Tree two years ago and I have to say that it has been the single most meaning full advent activity for our family. It was such a joy to have an ornament scavenger hunt in the stores to match the Bible stories we were reading each night. I found it also re-inforced God's promise from the beginning to redeem his beloved people to him. It was so good for me, never mind the kids, see again in a fresh way the continuity of the Bible story from creation to Abraham to the Exodus, to the prophets to the fulfillment in Jesus. It is my all all time favorite discipleship tool so far :) My best friend posted about this a couple years ago and she has some great links on where to find ornaments, some examples of ones you can easily make out of felt, and some free ornament print outs you can download.
    You will be so blessed! We did this each night as part of our bedtime bible story - so it still left room for other fun Advent activities such as Truth in Tinsel. I also found it was doubly fun on Sundays when we also did our advent wreath devotions. It all just sort off falls into place so beautifully. Ok , I too excited about this and typing way too much!

    1. I'm so excited to use it this year, Susan. And I LOVE your friend's post! What a great resource! I'm hoping I can be more organized once I've given it a try and buy (or make) some fun ornaments to use on our Christmas tree.

  3. I've thought about doing that with my kids too, but this year I chose to use the Storybook Bible to teach my kids about what Christmas is. I have a 3 and 4 year old. I am hoping that using that it will do a good job. But I may have to change it up depending on how I see yours does this year. Good Luck! Have fun and Merry Christmas!



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