We are making excellent progress with our first Jesse Tree, and I'm very excited about that--I've been planning to include this in our Advent preparations since last year!
Here is our bare (but not for long!) tree, which was constructed out of a set of Tinker Toys. I actually think it's kind of attractive, in a funky sort of way!
Junie B., Taz and I spent Sunny-boy's naptime the last two days, painting our Jesse Tree Symbols, which I had previously cut out of white felt, and drawn on the symbols with a sharpie pen. (I also later went back and painted the outline of the shapes in black again, after the kids painted on their choice of colors.)
Taz was especially delighted with this activity--as he mixed the primary colored fabric paints to get colors such as grey, brown, orange and purple, he kept saying, "I an artist." Junie B. was very absorbed in the activity as well, and the results are, I think, impressive! (I happen to love that "kid art" look--it'll go well with the funky tree!)
They'll be finished off with a second circle of felt, in dark green, to back them, and held together with a simple white yarn whip stitch. I haven't decided yet if I'll insert a piece of cardboard to ensure they hold up well without curling as they hang; but I think the double felt might be enough.
For the symbols, I relied on this post by Alice Gunther at O Night Divine--they were much simpler than the ones I found at Domestic Church (which are also very nice; but since I knew we'd be dealing with lots of smudged colors, I felt the simpler, the better!) It's fun to see how many of the symbols the children already recognize! Junie B. will be copying the O Antiphon titles as part of her copywork/handwriting practice, and these will adorn the window trim surrounding the Jesse Tree. (By the way--check out that whole article by Alice Gunther--what a rich resource of fun ideas for fully involving the children in the decorating of the Jesse Tree!)
I've copied off the prayers we'll most likely be using, from Catholic Culture. The plan is to add a symbol each night at bedtime snack, followed by the ceremonial ripping of the day's paper chain link. (Taz is really into this, too!)
Other Advent plans include, of course, the traditional lighting of the Advent Wreath along with the singing of O Come O Come Emmanuel, as part of our Grace before dinner. I love the idea, from Castle of the Immaculate, to have simple daily penances for ourselves and the children to pick from a dish, and I can't wait to implement it!
Last year we did a "kindness tree"--like a Thanksgiving Tree, only it was a Christmas Tree taped to the sliding glass door, and everyone stuck on angels each time they noticed someone being kind to them. We may do this again; or we may modify it somewhat. Junie B. is very taken with my family's "Kris Kringle" practices of the distant past, and would like to do something along those lines. I'm thinking maybe we'll do "secret" kindnesses for each other, and then quietly slip an angel into a dish or envelope--each of which will then be hung on the window behind the Jesse Tree at day's end. Still thinking this one through as well, though. (Guess I'll be making that call shortly, huh?) :)
But I'm making a very good start here, I think! (Even if Advent is only a few days away!)