A Different Jesse Tree: Craft Kit

A creative resource for reflecting on the mystery of the Incarnation in an Orthodox-focused way.

This kit is available as a retail item at the Draw Near Designs Marketplace.

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for craft tutorials and additional resources

Explore important Orthodox themes of the Nativity season, while working on a creative project together with the children. The kit contains printed templates and a pack of cards to help spark reflection and discussion. Complementary teaching material is offered on our website.


What does the kit contain?

The kit contains six template pages and 18 cards. The templates are used to construct a 3D Jesse tree based on the Orthodox icon type of the Root of Jesse. The cards are used for educational games, reinforcing the main teaching points.

What is this craft kit about?

This kit offers a uniquely Orthodox approach to the popular Jesse tree tradition of the Nativity season. It is designed as a teaching tool, to provoke insightful conversations and further exploration. Although it is relevant throughout the Nativity season, it is most appropriate for the last couple of weeks before the celebration of the Holy Nativity (the week preceding and the week following the Sunday of the Forefathers).

What makes this Jesse tree different?

Our Jesse tree is based on Orthodox theology, iconography and hymnology. Its main purpose is to promote an understanding of the connections between the Old and New Testaments. It helps teach nine Old Testament stories, focusing on their hidden symbolism, which, according to the Fathers of the Church, points to the mystery of the Incarnation. These symbols and connections have a prominent place in the Orthodox celebration of the Nativity season and in the liturgical life of the Church as a whole.

How many stories are there?

The kit includes material to explore nine stories and their hidden meanings. However, after you construct the tree, you can choose to work on as many stories as you wish. Even one story is enough to get the main point across.

This sounds complicated. How can I find more details to teach about this topic?

  • We have created a printable teaching packet explaining the stories and connections, with worksheets for the child to work on:

Is this craft difficult to make?

The craft is easy to make, however it involves some cutting. It is designed for a child and an adult – or a younger and older child – to make together, discussing the explored themes.

How will I know how to make the craft?

There are printed instructions inside the packet. We also have a detailed tutorial on our website.

Do I need any other material?

The kit contains templates and cards. You will additionally need:

  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Double-sided tape is optional but very handy
  • Tissue paper: Green and other color(s) of your choice

How can I use the cards?

As all Orthodox Pebbles material, the cards are very versatile; you can use them in different ways. Some examples are:

  • Flashcards
  • Memory Game: The cards are spread out facing down. Each player picks up a pair of cards and flips it over. If the pair matches, the player has to roughly discuss the story that the cards refer to (the keywords on the cards facilitate this discussion). If the other players feel the discussion was adequate, the player gets to keep the pair; otherwise the pair is returned to its original spot and the next player takes a turn. The game ends when there are no cards remaining. The winner is the player who holds the largest number of pairs.
  • Scavenger hunt: Hide the description cards, then give the image cards to the children. For each image card, they should search to find its pair, then briefly discuss the story and symbol.

You can also create your own game variation.

Can I use the kit at Sunday School or at a religious retreat?

Of course! Like all Orthodox Pebbles creations, the kit and its accompanying digital resources are highly adaptable: They can be used by one child or by many, at home, in class or at a religious retreat.

We hope you get to enjoy using our Jesse Tree teaching resource as much as we enjoyed creating it.