Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Jesse Tree: Noah's Rainbow and God's Promise

This is the third year that we've done a Jesse Tree, and I don't see an end to it any time soon. I simply love this tradition - what an awesome way to lead little ones through the Bible to the story of Jesus's birth. If you're not familiar with a Jesse Tree (I wasn't until the year that we started the tradition), the general idea is this: each day during advent your family will read a new Bible story, starting with creation, moving through the old and new testaments, and finally spending the last few days on the Christmas story. After reading the story and finishing whatever devotion or activity you choose to go along with it, you'll place a symbolic ornament on your Jesse Tree. That's it. Super easy. 

The neat thing about a Jesse Tree is that there's enough structure to carry you through a meaningful advent, but enough freedom to be all kinds of creative. A Jesse Tree might look very different from one house to the next, and there's really no wrong way to do it. If you'd like to start this tradition (and you can totally start today even though we're already a few days into advent), there are plenty of websites online to give you some ideas. Type in "Jesse Tree" into Pinterest and you'll be overwhelmed with all that's available. 

In our house, I like to have a project to go along with the different Bible stories...not all of them, because that's completely overwhelming, but I try to get in maybe three a week. Today I wanted to share with you the project we did to go along with the story of Noah, the ark, and the rainbow symbolizing God's promise to His people. 

So. Have you seen those awesome melt-the-crayon projects floating all over the blogosphere? I've had several of those pinned for ages. They've been on my mental to-do list since I opened a Pinterest account. Rainbows...crayons...beautiful, color-saturated wax rolling down the paper in neat little lines? Yes, please.

Apparently, those projects are a lot harder than they look. 

Ours didn't quite turn out how I envisioned it, but I like it anyway - totally hang it up and admire it worthy. 

Noah's Rainbow and God's Promise


canvas or construction paper/cardstock, cardboard, mod podge
crayons in your color choices
craft glue
hair dryer
paint brush


First, let me just say that since I planned this project for a three year old, it was definitely collaborative. I would not advise letting young children melt the wax since it gets pretty hot. I helped Daniel glue on his crayons and melt the wax....he did the rest himself. 

If you happen to have a canvas lying around, great. Use that. If, like me, this project is happening sort of on a whim, then here's a quick trick:

Find some cardboard:

And some black and white paper. I used construction paper.

Use Mod Podge to adhere your paper to the cardboard. I cut about an inch off all sides of the white paper to create a sort of black mat (totally optional). 

You might find that the cardboard starts to bend as the glue dries. To straighten it back out again, I put the whole thing under several books for a little while.

(Hi Silas!)

While Daniel's canvas was drying, we talked about Noah and the flood. This is a story he's heard a million times before, so it was really just a review. I did, however, emphasize the rainbow part of the story, a symbol of God's promise to never again flood the earth. We talked about what God did instead to take care of the sin in the world (He sent Jesus). One of the things I love about the Jesse Tree tradition so much is that, with each story, you can point your children toward Jesus and God's great plan to take care of his people. 

After our discussion, I set Daniel in front of the crayon box and instructed him to find these colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple (we also added in indigo). 

At the last minute, I decided we should take the paper off.

This might have been our downfall. In all the projects I've seen, the crayons still have their paper. Maybe that helps to keep the colors separate as they melt? I'm not sure, but for better or for worse, our paper came off. 

Then I used craft glue to glue the crayons to our canvas.

In my head, as the crayons melted, long ribbons of color would begin to gracefully ark upwards...like a rainbow. 


This is what happened.

Agh! It looks like an octopus! Ah well. We will continue on. 

After you've melted those crayons, let them dry. It takes almost no time at all, but it's an important step (obviously).

(Note that the picture is being held down by books again...this is because it began to curl during the melting process. After a few minutes under some books, though, it flattened back out.) 

I had intended for Daniel to paint the rest of the picture after we melted the crayons. I was going to leave what he painted up to him. I thought maybe the flood waters would be nice, or the sun, perhaps. So I set him down at the table with his dry crayon art, the watercolors, and a paint brush, and let him go to town.

And he did. 

He ended up adding color...a lot of it. And I ended up absolutely loving the result. So maybe our melted crayon rainbow didn't work out exactly as I had hoped. Daniel saved the day by making  his own rainbow.

Noah's Rainbow and God's Promise
Daniel, age 3
...and mom

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