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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Advent Activities to Build Family Traditions and Faith


Join Mary Ellen Barrett and her family to invite Advent into your homeschool, creating traditions that will bind children to both their faith and family.

Our First Priority

Every year in early November, I spend some time seriously thinking about how I want our observances of Advent to look.

When my children were all small there were many craft projects to do, recipes to bake, hymns to learn, and special Masses to attend. We still do some of these things, but I’ve had to adjust my plans now that I have more older children than younger ones.

Having a beautiful Advent calendar is our priority, and I purchase a new one each year for the children to take turns opening each evening at dinner time. The Gospel-based calendar Seton offers is beautiful. I think it draws the younger ones into the anticipation of the coming Child. After our meal, that day’s window is opened and my husband or I read the short verse and meditation for the day.

Celebrate with the Saints

There are so many beautiful saint feast days in Advent that help draw us closer to the coming of the Savior by their example of holiness and service. I pick two or three saints each year to focus on so that I can fully teach my children about their saintly example and make them a more integral part of our Advent.

One saint we always celebrate is St. Nicholas on December 6th. I usually treat the children to Bishop’s cake for dessert and St. Nicholas, The Boy Who Became Santa, as a before-bed movie. Then, all the children, including the adult ones, put out their shoes and wait with great anticipation to see if St. Nicholas fills them.

This harkens back to the legend of St. Nicholas providing a dowry to three poor young women by sneaking gold coins into their shoes. I fill the shoes with chocolate gold coins, holy cards, and a good book.

The younger ones receive coloring books and coloring holy cards which they enjoy. One year I bought everyone prayer pillowcases which I rolled up, tied them with a ribbon, and tucked them in the shoe.

A website to check out to help you in your St. Nicholas planning is The site has a great deal of information to help you and includes many free resources.

St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast days always fall within Advent (December 9th and 12th respectively) are also important saints to our family.

It has become a tradition to read The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie de Paola, and after a hearty dinner of tacos we watch Juan Diego, another of the CCC Animated Saints and Heroes DVDs.

I have collected all of these over the years, and the delight the children take in learning about their favorite saints in this wholesome and entertaining way makes the series well worth the investment. I highly recommend these films.

These are just a few of the ways in which we embrace the Advent season in my home. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to invite the liturgical season into your homeschool and create traditions that will bind children to both their faith and family in this festive and reverent way.

About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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