Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Children's Christmas Homily: Nativity Puzzle

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

Every year I plan a children’s Christmas homily. I have two sources. My favorite, “Homilies Kids Can See,” by Msgr. Dermot R. Brennan, 2002 and “Children’s Sermons A to Z,” by Brett Blair and Tim Carpenter, 2000.

Books on children’s homilies are very hard to find. The two mentioned may be the only ones in existence. If you know of any more, please let me know.

This year I will be using the last Christmas homily in Msgr. Brennan’s book. In the past I have used “The Jesse Tree,” "A Christmas Homily in Pictures (signs and Symbols),” "A Christmas Show and Tell,” "The Reason for the Season,” and "Don’t Ask How it Works (some Christmas magic).” The only one I have not done is the “Christmas Jigsaw Puzzle,” which takes the most time to create. So, this year I tackled it.

First, I asked confirmation candidates to help cut out the pieces and glue them together. I started a month early so I would not be rushed around Christmas time. I did about half the work myself.

Props Needed:

One piece of foam board, one 32x24 inches
One piece of plywood 40x30 inches
One Poster: 32x24 (the bigger the better)
40 Velcro dots
One easel to put board on
Box or bag to hold the puzzle pieces


Cut the nativity poster up into 15-20 pieces. Be sure at least one contains the entire infant Jesus.

Place the cut up nativity pieces on the foam board. Trace with pencil. Cut out each puzzle piece.

Glue nativity poster piece onto the corresponding cut out piece of foam.

Number each piece of foam (in the order you want to put them up, I am doing the border first then saving the pieces like Mary, Joseph, and Jesus until last). Then put Velcro dots on the backs of each puzzle piece.

Put all the pieces on the larger plywood and again, trace very lightly each puzzle piece.. Put the number of each puzzle piece on the corresponding drawn out piece on the plywood. Should be done with a pencil so that just I can see the number and the outline, not the congregation.

Plywood board before the Velcro Dots:

After the Velcro Dots:

Print Christmas Puzzle across the top


Before mass begins hand out the last 5 or so pieces of the numbered puzzles to children or call them up during the homily and hand out the pieces then. Pieces 1-12 in my puzzle are all the border pieces so I plan to have a Christmas angel or altar server put those pieces up first. I am going to be creative here. Since it is my first time doing it I really don’t know what I am going to do yet.

Talk about the toys children get for Christmas. For example, one of the all time favorite toys is a puzzle. What kind of puzzle is this? Most children will see the Velcro dots and say “connect the dots.

Then might be a good time to introduce the volunteer Christmas angel or altar server who will be putting up the border of the puzzle.

As you put up pieces of the puzzle, talk about them. If it is only a partial picture, ask the children to guess what it is.

The last piece will be the infant Jesus. Put that in and then briefly review the entire story. After Mass, process out with the picture held high.

So, I do not know how this will work. The other children’s homilies from the book by Msgr. Brennan, in my opinion, were a great success. The simple show and tell was received well, even by the adults.

So, my goal for this Christmas is, keep it simple and have some fun.

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