Updated December 2022
The Christmas season is always a special time for families – a time of love, warmth, togetherness, giving, caring – and lots and lots of fun!
Following are some links to good Christmas stories and videos for children of all ages. In fact, you may even enjoy having your whole family read (or watch) some of these heartwarming and character building stories together, celebrating the beauties and joys of this special season that only comes once a year. Merry Christmas!
Stories, Comics and Books:
1 – 4 year olds:
5 – 7 year olds:
8 – 11 year olds:
Note: These are short songs, video clips and cartoons. Click here for a listing of full length Christmas movies and cartoons for the whole family!
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Updated November 2022
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. This year (2022), Thanksgiving Day falls on the 24th of November. (Explanation adapted from Wikipedia)
The following children’s stories, activities and videos are ideal for Thanksgiving. They can be used at home or in a classroom or Sunday School setting and will help children not only enjoy themselves but also remember the true meaning of the season.
Stories, Books and Presentations
Bible Stories and Coloring Pages on Thankfulness
Updated April 2022!
This post includes a comprehensive list of stories, videos, coloring pages and activities for children. All stories, coloring pages and activity sheets can be freely downloaded, printed and used at no cost for group events or at home. Happy Easter!
If you are looking for children's devotional articles and presentations about Easter or topics related to Easter, you can find a large list of free resources here.
Children's Stories, Devotionals, Comics, and Articles:
Children's Easter Videos:
Easter Coloring and Activity Pages:
Note: Be sure to check out this comprehensive list of resources for Lent to find even more children's stories, devotionals, coloring pages and arts and crafts that can be used for the Easter season!
Updated June 2021!
A short list of Father’s Day stories, videos songs and activities for children that will help kids fully appreciate Dad and all that he is and does.
Activities and Coloring Pages
Parables of Jesus for Children – Free Stories, Videos, Coloring Pages and Activity Sheets
When Jesus spoke to the multitudes, He often explained deep truths by means of parables—stories about common events, circumstances, and things that His listeners could easily relate to. Times have changed, but the timeless truths contained in the parables of Jesus are just as relevant today and just as feeding to our souls as they were to those who first heard them 2,000 years ago! Bon appétit!
Short videos (for children up to 5 years in age)
Full length cartoons (about ½ hour; ideal for children ages 5 – 10)
Activities and Coloring Pages
Worksheets for older children:
Image courtesy of FN-Goa via Flickr.
Christian Alternatives to Halloween
Many Christians choose not to observe Halloween. As one of the most popular holidays in our culture—for some more celebrated than Christmas—it can present a challenge for Christian families, especially when children are involved. Although I won't discuss here all the "whys" and "why nots," and what the Bible says about Halloween, I will offer some fun and practical alternatives to enjoy this year with your family.
Best Bets for After School
Toby Leah Bochan
Why extra-curriculars matter
After-school activities benefit your child in ways that might surprise you. According to a recent study by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, children who participate in after-school programs are more engaged in and have a better attitude about learning, perform better academically, and enjoy an increased sense of accomplishment, competence, and self-esteem. Participation also lowers children’s risk of becoming depressed, using drugs and alcohol, and experiencing other behavioral problems.
Extra-curriculars let your child enjoy himself in a fun, stress-free environment, get some exercise, and make friends outside of school. If he shows a special talent, it’s great to nurture that ability through lessons or classes. But don’t think that an early start in anything will lead to a career—remember that most children do not grow up to be professional musicians or athletes. Pushing your child into tons of tennis lessons or dance classes in order to give him a “head start” will most likely lead to him resenting both you and the activity. Give him other options and encourage other interests, so he doesn’t feel an overwhelming pressure to succeed at just one thing.
How to Find
Start your search at your child’s school. Ask his teacher or the principal what options are available there. It’s also important to talk to other parents about what their children are involved in and get recommendations for kid-tested classes and activities.
Also check out community resources such as:
You might also find listings in your phone book under “Child Care.”
How to Choose
After you have an idea of the possibilities, talk with your child about what he’s interested in. Give him some options that complement his interests—an artistic child might enjoy a ceramics class, while a boisterous one can work off energy dancing or playing a vigorous sport. But don’t overlook what might seem like unlikely matches. Shy children often enjoy expressing themselves on stage in a drama class; fidgeters can find a way to focus through martial arts. You can also target specific skills through different activities: music lessons enhance math aptitude, and team sports boost social skills. If your child will attend a daily after-school program, try to select one that offers a variety of activities, including ones that get him on his feet, as well as a quiet area to relax and do schoolwork.
Also consider your family’s schedule when planning extra-curriculars. Will adding an activity adversely affect family time? Will you, a caregiver, or another family member be available to chauffeur your child to and from classes and lessons? If not, consider activities that can be done at home, such as music lessons and crafts, or those that are held at school.
Review the “Grade-by-grade at a glance” (below) for guidelines on how often your child might spend time in an after-school program. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and it’s important to watch your child for signs of over-scheduling. In younger children, this most often takes the form of irritability, avoiding eye contact, and tantrums. In older children, look out for mood swings, recurrent sickness such as stomachaches, and complaints about the activities themselves. At any age, if schoolwork begins to suffer, it is time to cut back.
Once you’ve narrowed down the options, visit them while they are in session so you can get a real idea about the environment, the staff, and the program.
When you visit, look for:
Grade-by-grade at a glance
Wondering how many days a week your 2nd grader should be practicing the guitar? Searching for good ideas for after-school programs for your 10 year old? Use the following guidelines to steer your decisions—but remember that you know your child’s maturity and temperament best.
Keep your kindergartener’s after-school life simple and free—one or two after-school activities a week are more than enough. Wait until he’s adjusted to the daily school routine. Then find an extra-curricular that involves his creative and/or physical side, such as an art, dance, or music program.
Balance your 1st grader’s schedule with play dates, playground visits, and one or two days of an after-school activity per week. Best bets are non-competitive sports and other physical activities since this is around the age when your child is starting to get a grip on the abilities of her own body. Plus, after being in school all day, she needs an outlet to play and run. Avoid sports with strict rules. At this age, she needs free reign to make mistakes and not worry about winning and losing.
Get your child involved in choosing extra-curriculars. He’ll probably tell you what he’d like to do anyway! Steer him towards activities that he likes and doesn’t get to do at school, whether it’s sports such as swimming or skating, computers, or art or music lessons. Many kids start learning piano or violin around this age. Make sure your child has at least one or two days free a week for alone time, which he is starting to need to unwind. If after-school activities are starting to interfere with schoolwork or if your child seems stressed, you need to drop an activity or two.
After sitting all day in a classroom, your 3rd grader needs to move and socialize after school. Team sports are a great choice—now she’s old enough to remember and follow rules and can handle losing (though she’s still not ready for anything ultra-competitive). Other good choices are activities that use and develop fine motor skills, such as painting, sewing, or learning to play an instrument. Let her explore different interests but make sure to set aside still-needed family time among the team practices and play dates.
Try to get your 4th grader involved in one or two extra-curricular activities that he is good at and loves doing. It will build confidence and help him manage stress, which is key at this age when cliques and social pressure in school are beginning to build.
Another thing that’s growing is his pile of homework, so make sure he has adequate time to complete his work without having to stay up late. Set limits on seeing friends and activities if he is often crabby and irritable, if his grades drop, if he has trouble sleeping or complains of mysterious illnesses, or if he shows other signs of stress like overeating.
Don’t put too much pressure on him to excel at what should be fun activities. Otherwise he will end up resenting the time he spends doing them instead of playing and exploring. Last, don’t forget family together time is still essential. It may need to be scheduled in so your child understands that it’s important.
Over-scheduling is a problem you and your child will probably face this year. Your 5th grader is full of energy for everything and wants to spend all her time participating in activities and hanging out with friends. To ensure she’s completing her schoolwork and not becoming burnt out, you should make sure she has two free afternoons a week. While you’re at it, block out a once-a-week family time that you and your child stick to so she remembers that family is a priority. She should be guiding her own activity choices, but now is a great time to suggest community service activities like helping senior citizens or young children.
Try to steer your middle-schooler toward activities that reinforce learning and get him away from the TV. On average, middle-schoolers spend an equal amount of time every week watching TV and socializing with friends—about 20-25 hours apiece.
To improve academic performance, encourage your preteen to spend time volunteering, to join school clubs like band, chess, or foreign language clubs, or to sign up for extra-curriculars with a leadership element, such as the school newspaper or student council. It will help him feel more connected to the school community while forging friendships based in common interests and experiences. As always, keep an eye out for signs that he is over-extending himself with after-school commitments. As a general rule, he should be spending fewer than 20 hours a week participating in after-school activities.
Christmas Game and Activity Ideas
* Christmas A–Z praise. The first person thanks God for something that starts with “A,” which has to do with Christmas. The next person thanks God for something that starts with “B,” etc. See how far into the alphabet the children can go with their praises.
* Wrap a scarf around your child’s eyes, so that he can’t see, and then have him draw something related to Christmas on a piece of paper (e.g., the manger scene, Joseph and Mary, the wise men, etc.). After each child finishes drawing his or her picture, have the other children guess what it is.
* Play “Who Am I?” using only Christmas-related people and/or objects. A person thinks of a character or thing related to Christmas, and other players ask questions which can only be answered with a “yes” or “no,” and tries to guess from the information gathered who or what the person or object is.
* Choose a Christmas word such as, “Christmas,” “caroling,” “nativity,” etc. Write the letters of the word you chose on little pieces of paper, then make two sets and put each word in an individual bag or bowl. Divide the children into teams. Give each team a set. The first team to decipher the word in the bag wins.
* Divide the children into two teams. Prepare a list of five Christmas song titles. Each team sends up a representative who is shown a piece of paper with the name of a Christmas carol on it. That person returns to the group and needs to illustrate the title of the Christmas carol. No talking, gestures, or alphabet letters are allowed.
As soon as a team has guessed the song, they must sing it as loud as they can. After singing, they send a new person for another song. Play continues until one group has guessed all five song titles. You will need pen and paper for each team. If your team is very large, you may need a white or blackboard, or a large piece of paper to draw on.
* Draw a simple, poster-size Christmas tree. Cut out circles and different shapes from colored construction paper to use as ornaments for the tree. The children can write short sentences of the things they enjoy about Christmas on the ornaments. Glue the ornaments on the tree and post it in a communal area.
* Get a large piece of cardstock, title it “[your child’s name]’s Christmas To-do List” (e.g., “Jane’s Christmas To-do List”). Have your child draw a series of pictures illustrating what he or she would like to do to bring happiness to others this Christmas. Glue these pictures on to your child’s “To-do List” cardstock. Once all the pictures are added to the poster, decorate the list however your child would like. Place it up on the wall somewhere so that your child can remember what he or she would like to do for others.
* Record the Christmas story. You could do this by reading the Christmas story out of the Bible (Luke 2), or dramatizing the Christmas story by creating your own script. You could even make it into a musical through using Christmas songs.
* Create decorated cookie bags to be filled with yummy Christmas cookies to be given as presents. You’ll need:
Have the children decorate the paper bags in a Christmassy fashion using cutouts, paint, glitter, etc. Pipe cleaners can be used as handles or accessories.
Some fun ideas to try out are:
Cut ears out of the sides of the bag and fold them down, make antlers out of the pipe cleaners and paint a deer face on the front of the bag.
Cut a Christmas tree out of green paper to cover the front of the bag. The children can decorate the tree with cut-out stars and baubles, add glitter, etc.
Cut out three circles out of white paper and glue them onto the front of the bag making it into a snowman. Cut out little circles for buttons and eyes, a carrot shape for the nose, hat, scarf, etc.
Cut out stars and glue them all over the bag, decorating them with glitter.
* Make salt-dough gift toppers, or to use as tree decorations. You’ll need:
Make dough out of the salt, flour, and water.
Knead the dough until it is smooth. If dough is too sticky, sprinkle with some more flour.
Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thickness using a rolling pin that has been dusted with flour.
Use cookie cutters to cut out as many trees, stars, and Christmas shapes as you like.
Use a toothpick to make a hole toward the top of the shape. Enlarge it a bit so it’s big enough to thread a small ribbon through.
Put all the shapes onto an ungreased cookie sheet and place into the oven at a low temperature.
Bake for two hours.
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Paint the trees green and the stars yellow, or with the color of your choice.
When paint is dry, add glitter or any other accessories on the trees and stars.
When dry, thread a ribbon through the hole and tie it in a knot in the back.
Put these on top of little gifts you give to your friends, or use as Christmas tree decorations.
* Create a pinecone Christmas tree. You’ll need:
Directions: Paint the pine cones green; paint the little pots gold. When the paint is dry, glue the pine cones in a conical fashion onto the top of the pots. Decorate the pine cones as you would a mini Christmas tree using glitter, sequins, etc., and place a star on the top.
Text © The Family International. Photo courtesy of First Baptist Nashville via Flickr.
“I didn’t grow up with the arts,” a young mom named Shelley confided over coffee some years ago. “Now I wish I had. I’d like to give my kids some exposure—but I’m not really sure where to start.”
Shelley didn’t come to me for advice because of my music or art degree (I have neither), but just because I’m a mega-mom with a track record. Maybe she’d noticed my kids da-da-da-da-ing along with Beethoven’s Fifth. Or rehearsing lines from Shakespeare. Or studying a book of Chagall. Maybe she was impressed that they seemed comfortable and unembarrassed—as though Mozart was as cool as Miley.
And Shelley’s hunch is right—I have had a lot to do with my kids’ love of the arts. But she’d probably be surprised to know I started out feeling pretty inadequate, asking the same questions she’s asking now.
Then again, looking at my kids, how could she have known I grew up in a home where country music and black velvet paintings were the rule? That my mom was too exhausted from eking out a living to do much more than laundry on the weekend? That as a kid, I thought concerts and museums were only for school field trips?
But as a young mother, I knew I was in a position to change all that for my own kids. And I knew from my Montessori training that the best time to introduce my kids to anything was the early years—when all the windows of opportunity were wide open.
All this by way of saying—It’s never too early to turn your kids on to the arts, and it’s never too late for you!
For nearly two decades, researchers have been investigating “The Mozart Effect”—which links children listening to classical music with increased intelligence. While there is no final word on the matter, as a mom who’s learned to choose classical, I can say it’s been a rich addition to our home life and broadened my children’s interest in all kinds of music.
Try a little Mozart in the morning, a little Brahms at night. You’ll find that a background of calm classical music will even out the tone at those cranky times of day—like when you’re getting dinner ready. If you’ve always thought of classical music as something for older folks, you’ll be surprised at how even the youngest family members will prick up their ears at the first strains.
If you’re not sure where to start, check the music store’s children’s section for many new classical CDs featuring works which hold the most kid appeal. There are even opera selections bundled especially with children in mind.
An added blessing for believing parents—some of the most inspired classical works are part of our Christian heritage. Handel’s Messiah, for example, is a major work (3 CDs) consisting solely of prophecies about Jesus and scriptures from his life, death, and resurrection. Listening to these verses set to rich music and sung by the world’s greatest voices can be a powerful reinforcement of your family’s faith—especially at Christmas and Easter.
Out and about
Check your local symphony box office for concerts aimed at children—sometimes called Lollipop Concerts. These feature short, compelling works that paint a picture or tell a story, often with commentary to help reveal what to listen for.
Look also for performances by young musicians. And help your children make the most of their symphony experience by an advance trip to the library for books with pictures of the various instruments, and tapes which teach how to recognize their sounds. If you know the concert program beforehand, listen to the selections a few times with your kids to familiarize them.
And don’t forget dance. The Nutcracker at Christmas is a wonderful way to introduce your children to classical music. The vivid visual impressions will draw them into the music not just the first time, but each time they hear it and remember.
If pictures are worth a thousand words to us, they’re worth a million to children. Perhaps especially to those with not-yet-extensive vocabularies.
Keep in mind how children’s thinking develops. Little ones’ minds dwell strictly in the concrete. The capacity to understand abstract concepts develops gradually and is grounded in examples they’ve encountered earlier. So, for instance, a child does not understand the word bravery, but he can see it in a soldier going into battle; does not understand the word devotion, but can see it in the way a mother looks at a child.
For children, art education begins quite simply—by seeing art in his own environment.
As a Montessori teacher, I was taught to think of the environment through a child’s eyes. Imagine taking a tour of your house on your knees—what surrounds your child at his eye level? Even if you have some interesting art on your walls at your eye-level, it will be years before your children enjoy it.
One easy and inexpensive way to surround your child with art is to collect note cards with famous works, especially those that have a lot of kid-appeal, like Renoir’s Girl with Watering Can or Winslow Homer’s Crack the Whip (or download and print free at the Web Gallery of Art). Buy small ready-made frames, then group your mini works of art here and there where your child is apt to spend time. If you have a reading nook, for example, hang pictures of people reading. By the coat rack, pictures of children playing outdoors.
Now and then, talk about the pictures and ask your child questions: “What are the boys doing? Why are they smiling? Does it look like it will rain?”
Out and about
If you’re not familiar with nearby art museums, now’s a good time to get to know them better. If you are familiar, just rethink them through your children’s eyes.
When you make plans to visit an art museum together, prepare your child. Explain why you need to wear comfortable, quiet shoes, to use quiet voices, to look and not touch.
Don’t plan on seeing the whole museum in one visit, and be sure to take a break for lunch or a snack. Let your child set the pace (unless you need to help her slow down). When he is interested in a particular picture or sculpture, read the label nearby for the title, the artist’s name, the date, and the medium.
If there’s a gift shop, let your child pick out a few postcards of the works she likes. These will be the ones she’ll never forget, the first items in her own art collection.
And as with music, much of our Christian heritage is represented in classical art. There’s something very gratifying about having your child instantly recognizing the subject matter of a painting straight out of the Bible.
“But she’s not wearing any clothes!”
If your children are of a certain age, they’re likely to display some embarrassment over artistic nudity. Though some Christian parents may decide nudity of any kind is unacceptable, others may want give their children guidelines to help them distinguish the difference between pornography and art.
With my children, I used the standard of the artist’s intent. In classical Greek sculpture, for instance, the artist’s primary motivation was interest in and appreciation of the human structure and form. Most familiar classical nudes are neither salacious nor vulgar. They are not manipulative, not intended to arouse lust in the beholder.
On the other hand, pornography is clear in its intention to arouse lust and manipulate the beholder. Pornography—including television commercials which use nudity to sell anything from soap to soda pop—cannot be considered art.
I’ll never forget the year five-in-a-row of my kids—Josh, Matt, Ben, Zach, and Sophia—put onThe Wizard of Oz for our family. They did own production from the first idea to the last bow. Our family’s big, so it lends itself to encouraging a flair for drama in our kids.
For smaller families who want to expose their kids to drama, you’ll need to seek out opportunities. Check the phone book’s yellow pages or your newspaper’s weekly events pages for children’s theater—classes, auditions, or current productions. If your children like musical theater—and what child wouldn’t?—they’ll probably enjoy a high school production ofSound of Music as much as a professional version.
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate your kids’ capacity. I’ve found children as young as nine to be very receptive to Shakespeare. Even if they don’t understand every word, they understand the action and emotions.
Parents know that while most of us can learn more than one language, those who feel most comfortable with two languages were exposed to both from the earliest years. The same principle works in the area of the fine arts.
Early exposure, even the most casual, will enrich your children’s lives now and as they grow. They’ll be comfortable in the arts—and who knows? You may discover—because God doesn’t limit our kids to the same gifts he’s given us—a budding Picasso or Pavarotti living right under your roof.
From Crosswalk.com, April 2009
Note to parent or teacher: Here’s a 20- to 30-minute class plan on thankfulness and overcoming whining and grumbling. (note that this plan is geared to children ages 2 to 6.)
Watch “Way to Wake Up.”
Discuss how it’s not fun to be around someone who whines or grumbles. Compare grumbling and whining to a smelly sock, or anything very unpleasant that your child dislikes being around. Highlight what kind of attitude people do like to be around.
Watch “Look on the Bright Side.”
Talk about how it can be easy to focus on the things that go wrong, but that happiness comes when you choose to focus on the good instead.
Read and/or memorize the rhyme on “Poster: Think on the Good.” A coloring page for this poster is available here.
Read “Bright Pebbles: So Much to Be Glad For.” Do the action activity on the last page of this article.
Memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (TLB): “Always be thankful!”
Read “Poem: My Happy Sunbeam.” The coloring book for this poem is available here.
Play the song “Sunny Sunbeam” while the children get up and dance to it (and/or enjoy it throughout the day while doing other activities).
Watch “Video: The Power of a Smile.”
Optional activity: Take a piece of cardboard or stiff paper, and cut it into a large circular shape to represent a sun. In the center of the circle, write “How to Get to the Bright Side”—and list ideas of things your child can do when he or she is feeling down. String a hole at the top of the circle, and hang it in a place where this craft can be easily seen.
Lesson plan courtesy of My Wonder Studio. Image by Grant Cochrane, www.freedigitalphotos.net
Free Children's Stories