Christmas Ideas for Kids ---
The children had an impromptu play.
Many of these Christmas ideas for kids come from my own experiences.
I've worn a lot of hats. Here's some of them:
- I was a child once - like most everyone else,
- a student,
- a classroom teacher,
- a summer bible teacher,
- and a pastor of several small churches.
Children Love to Play
At school when I was a student, we had many programs with plays, music, singing, etc. We had many practices, many of them after school or on weekends, which was a real sacrifice for my parents.
At home, we children put on plays of our own, sometimes just outside while playing on the swings. And sometimes inside the living room for the whole family on special occasions.
Children love to act. Some kids need to repeat what they're taught, to really learn it. Many kids need to act out, or in some way be involved in motion or action, before they really learn. That helps them take more ownership of the concept being taught.
By acting out the story in a little play, kids learn so much faster. They can see, hear, talk, and move at the same time. They're using their mind, imagination, and memory. And, of course, it's a lot of fun - or it should be. Having fun helps learning a lot.
My problem was, some of the practices were way too long for me. And I wasn't that great at drama, especially in front of people, because I used to get so embarrassed.
Later, as a teacher, I helped other teachers with many school programs.
The Children Came Asking
When I was a pastor, the children in the neighborhood asked me to teach them bible classes one summer. Most of their parents were working, so they were bored, or tired of playing in the heat.
So every week, we had a special time for the kids, usually outside on the porch. There were 15 or 20 children, ranging from about 5 years old to maybe 11 or 12.
A Stellar Idea
One day, I told the Christmas story. One of the older girls had a big cardboard star, with a hole in the middle of it. She had been a star in one of their plays at school, and the hole is where she put her face.
She asked if we could play the story. So that's what we did. For several weeks, we learned the story, and then practiced. The older children helped direct the younger children what to do.
This girl carried the big yellow star up the street to class, and after class carried it down the street again. The big cardboard star was taller than she was!
Having a No-Script Play
We didn't have a script, but the children knew the story and made up the lines.
For many children it's just no fun to memorize anyways.
So what we did, I'd just help them what to say and what to do to keep the story going. They were quite creative, and often, what they said was profound, because they had really been thinking of what the story meant.
Handy Props and Costumes
The kids chose their parts - I got to settle the disputes!
They had a few weeks to get props and costumes if they wanted. Some of the parents went all out. Some of the kids put towels on their heads, or took a blanket and wrapped up.
Most of the parents were working, there were just a few parents that day. But the children had a blast.
We Didn't Need a Fancy Stage
We had the play on the porch and just inside the door. Mary and Joseph came knocking at the door, some boys loved playing the mean inn-keepers, telling them go away, there's no room.
When the shepherds came, the kids would ba-a-a like sheep.
Eventually, everyone was inside for Jesus birth. And the girl with the star, carried it up and down the street for every practice. She brought the 3 wise men from the street, down the sidewalk, up to the porch, through the door, and inside.
The children really got into it. It was a smashing success.
It was truly Christmas in July. (or maybe it was August?)
After bible class, I enjoyed giving the children special treats.
They deserved it!
The Power of Short Plays
Short plays can be held in the middle of a single class. Even a two minute play is fun.
You don't even need costumes or props. Children play act all the time using their imaginations and whatever's handy.
Getting the Children Involved
Sometimes, it's fun to have something for children to look forward to, requiring more preparation, and maybe special props and costumes.
The key is, it doesn't have to be a burden. I used to be a perfectionist, thinking I had to do almost everything. A little organization can lighten the load.
Find people who are willing to help, such as parents to make costumes. Find children with talent to help direct, make props and costumes, and even help write the script if you have one. That way you're helping them develop the talents and gifts God has given them.
If unable to do so, downsize your expectations, and keep it simple.
Larger Plays Require More Preparation
Of course, if it's going to be a more formal occasion, such as in church or school in front of an audience, you'll probably want to have a script, and take more time in preparation and rehearsal, especially if there are lines to memorize. This preparation can be weeks or even months before.
The danger is, many children - and adults - get stage fright and don't know what to say, unless it comes out automatically.
Jesus Talked about Children's Plays
In Jesus day, kids liked to play-act too. Especially on market days in town, when kids came with their parents, and could see their friends. Sometimes, probably in the heat of the day, they had to stay by their parents stalls.
There were 2 things that didn't happen very often - weddings and funerals.
So what they did, the children would call to one another, and start a little game.
First, they would pretend that they were at a wedding party. Some of them would play happy songs on their flutes, and the others, even at a distance, once they heard the music, were supposed to dance.
Then they would pretend they were at a funeral. Some would sing the funeral songs, and the rest were supposed to cry and boo-hoo in a little procession.
Why this Story?
Jesus told the people who rejected him, they were like the children who complained, because after they played the flute, or sang the funeral song or pretended to cry, the others did not respond. (Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35)
Jesus preached good news, but many people did not respond, and instead made excuses, or downright rejected Jesus. (Matthew 11:16-24)
The Littlest Star
Almost any good story can become a good play. You might have to create more dialogue. Put your imagination - and your children's - to work!
One of my sisters, who is a teacher, took my Christmas short story, "The Littlest Star"
and read it as a story to her students before Christmas, when they were doing some busy work.
She has also written plays from stories. I think this is a story that could easily be made into a play.
Thank your stars. They're on stage.
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