The youngest members of a church congregation will often be very excited about the Christmas season. Helping them to put on a program for the other people in the church is a good way to channel that enthusiasm into something educational and engaging. At the same time, preparing a performance for church helps keep the emphasis on the true meaning of the holiday. Here are some ideas for Christmas programs that children can perform.
Traditional Carols and Scripture
According to Donna Marshall, music director at Hooksett Congregational Church in Hooksett, NH, it is important for young people to learn the traditional Christmas carols that have been sung for generations. She says, "Learning songs like 'Joy to the World' and 'Silent Night' keeps kids connected to their Christian heritage." Having the sections of the Christmas story read from the Bible interspersed with appropriate carols sung by a children's choir makes a simple but effective program. More variety can be achieved by featuring small groups of children or soloists singing specific songs or verses.
Most children love drama, and will enjoy a chance to act out the story of the first Christmas. Providing simple costumes made from robes and headscarves will make the young shepherds, wise men and angels feel that they are involved in the action. As Marshall says, "Playing the part of a character in the Christmas story helps a child see the event from that person's viewpoint." Each participant can be given part of the dialogue to learn, or the script can be read by a narrator so that children serve as actors only and do not need to memorize lines.
A more ambitious version of the nativity play can be held outside at night with the narration broadcast over a public address system. Using some hay bales to create a stable and borrowing a well-behaved dog and a lamb or two from some local 4-H members or farmers adds a look and feel of real authenticity to the story. The young actors can dress warmly under their flowing costumes. Audience members can watch the action from their cars, or be provided hot drinks at the conclusion of the play.
A recital-style program allows each participant to showcase his or her talents. Children and teens can learn a Christmas poem to recite, play a musical instrument, sing alone, or with a small group, do an interpretive dance, or perform a dramatic monologue. It is best to have an adult act as the master of ceremonies to keep things moving smoothly. Websites like DTLK provide many poems and songs that are appropriate for a Christmas recital.
Play or Skit
Young people may want to present a play set in modern times that illustrates the importance of Christmas. Older children and teens are capable of writing their own performances with a little adult guidance. Additionally, there are many books and websites like Apples 4 the Teacher that provide plays suitable for children. These can range from a short skit with minimal costuming to a full-length dramatic production complete with lighting, music and special effects.