Begin by reading The Christmas Story. You can do this by reading it from a children’s book or from the bible. I use Matthew 1:18 where it begins to talk about Jesus’ birth being a virgin birth and where Joseph is told Mary did not commit infidelity but that she was especially chosen by God to give birth to Christ. Because the children in my Sunday school class are very small, ages 4-8 typically, I do not dwell on what virgin birth means. Many of these kids do not understand how birth occurs at all because it is such an abstract action. I read the passage and then tell them it means that Mary gave birth to the most special child of all.
Many people do not believe Christmas and Santa Claus can really mix. While I admit Santa Claus can be seen as a commercialized figure, the true character he was inspired by is interesting. Kids in this age group are typically more interested in Santa Claus than Jesus because the gifts Santa brings are tangible and not abstract such as salvation. At least in my case, as I grew up the gifts Santa brought prepared me to better understand the gifts Christ brought.
I can remember being eight years old and my sister and I arguing over whether Santa Claus was a real person. She told me he was and I told her she was a liar. She proceeded to grab an encyclopedia from our bookshelf and look up Santa Claus. She brought up a passage on Saint Nicholas born in 270 and died in Dec 346. The passage said Saint Nicholas of Myra would secretly give gifts to people out of an inheritance his parents left him after they died. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children so it is only fitting that he is a part of the Christmas holiday. All Christian faiths venerate Saint Nicholas though not as much as Christ Jesus of course.
After Saint Nicholas died, others contributed to give gifts to the poor anonymously in his honor. In one way we do the same today when we give money and resources to those less fortunate during the Christmas holiday. Saint Nicholas showed the love of Christ by the giving of these gifts but also by contributing to many miracles.
In my opinion, it is sometimes necessary to go a little further past the bible and incorporate some modern day heroes such as Saint Nicholas into bible lessons. Yes, he was a Catholic Saint but he was an obvious Christian in his actions. It is important children do not hold onto the idea that Christ-like activity ends when the bible ends. A lot of examples of Christ-like activity from wonderful people exist well past the time the bible was written. Saint Nicholas was certainly one of these and a Christmas lesson provides the chance to share the news that the good things have not stopped just because the bible is complete. Just keep the focus on the positive actions from Saint Nicholas being inspired by Christ.
An important thing I should have mentioned before now is to be sure and ask your children how many of them believe in the mythical Santa Claus on the North Pole, driving reindeer, elves, etc story. If you have children in the class who believe in this manner it may be important to have a backup lesson prepared though the craft should work for children of any age or Santa Claus belief. I will try to include an idea for a lesson based solely on the birth of Christ within the next couple of weeks. My surgery is scheduled for a week from now so I should be able to provide that alternative lesson for you while I recover in case you need it.
One option: This is a simple craft but it does take several resources. Last year my class each took a brown gift bag and filled it with items such as soaps,lotions, shampoo, and other needed items. They decorated the gift bag and made a handwritten card to put inside the bag. Then they chose someone special to them at church to receive the bag. This was probably the favorite craft of the year last year for my 3rd through 6th grade class.
Another option: I find some of my craft supplies at flea markets. A few days ago I hit pay dirt when I found 8 (the number of children in my class on a typical Sunday) packages of Santa Claus parts for $2.00. The instructions for how to make the Santa Claus’ magnetic refrigerator notebooks were included in the packages. I have included a picture of the different parts that are needed as well as one with the parts put together. I did not glue them as I wanted to be sure to have enough Santa crafts when the Sunday comes and we need the craft but you can get the general idea of what they look like.
If you do not have the items needed for the Santa notebooks they can be bought at the store and created. You will need: foam sheets-especially red and white, a few peach foam sheets, white post it notepads, you will need a very small amount of green made either from velvet sheets that cost about $.60 each at Walmart or you can use green foam pieces. Walmart sells packages of foam sheets of a variety of colors for between $5-7. Tiny red beads can be used to make the holly on the green leaves. Cotton balls of white pom poms can be used for the side of Santa’s hat. One last thing you will need is a package of magnets to glue on the back of the Santa to make it stick to the refrigerator.
The foam may be able to be replaced with construction paper but I have been unable to try this alternative to see if it works. If so, it will cut down on a lot of your cost. At my church we have no money allowed for our children’s classroom work so I understand financial limitations when making crafts. It is especially difficult when I am a disabled mom in a house with one very low income so in my future crafts I list on here, I will try to keep them in the extremely affordable range.
To make the Santa Claus magnetic notebooks step by step
1. First make your foam pieces as they will be the most difficult. Cut a form out of white foam in the shape of a beard. The form will need to include an opening in the middle that is shaped like an oval for Santa’s face to fit through. The form should completely wrap around Santa’s head. See photograph.
2. White mustaches will need to be cut from white foam pieces as well. You will likely have some foam left over after creating the beard shapes. Use that foam to make Santa mustaches.
3. Peach foam sheets will be needed to create Santa’s face. The shape should be somewhat oval. You will likely have some foam left after creating the shape of Santa’s face. Use that foam to make very small noses for your Santas.
4. Red foam will be needed to shape Santa hats.
(Note: These will take some artistic ability to draw-especially based on such a small picture. After I finish this article I will create a template to the best of my ability (I’m no artist) and try to attach it to the article-kind of new to the Associated Content thing. If I cannot figure out how to attach it and you see this article without it, I encourage you to hit the contact button on my profile page and I will send you the template via email).
After making the foam shapes, you will be able to put your Santa Claus notebooks together. First, place glue on the back of the post-it notepad and then place it on Santa’s beard that was cut from the foam white shape. Then place glue alongside the hole where Santa’s face will be. Next, create two small, pinpoint type eyes on the oval shape. You can also use a pink or red marker to create santa’s rosy cheeks. After doing this, glue Santa’s mustache under his nose. Next glue the three holly leaves to the end of Santa’s hate that does not go into a point. You can use three tiny red beads or three tiny fluff balls to glue to the holly leaves. Use the white pom pom or cotton ball to glue to the other end of Santa’s hat. After Santa is dry, glue a magnetic strip to the back of his hat. He should be ready to take home once everything has dried.