The Jesse Tree

Catherine Fournier

The Jesse tree is a symbol of Jesus' family tree.

It also takes us through that first long Advent which lasted from the Fall to the Incarnation.

After one of our children has lighted the Advent wreath and we have sung an Advent song ('Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel' is my favorite) another child hangs the symbol for that day on the Jesse tree. Then Dad or one of the children reads the Bible passage and we ask questions and talk about the reading.

A Jesse tree can look like this; it can be made of wood dowels drilled and glued, rough sticks lashed together, wire, a banner wall hanging or even a large poster.


This is our family Jesse Tree; I traced the images on wooden disks with a fine black marker and the children painted them using acrylic craft paint.

The symbols can be made out of cardboard, wood or cloth with the image drawn, painted or embroidered on to it.

Images cut from old Christmas tree and holy cards would be suitable as well. Each reading can be written on the back and an image representing the story on the front (an ark, an apple and a snake, a raven etc.)

For the days of Advent with the corresponding images and readings click here:

Because our symbols kept losing themselves I made a wall hanging to keep them in. It has rows of pockets, one for each symbol in the shape of candles for the 4 weeks of Advent.


You can make a Jesse Tree for your school, each class room or each student quite easily .

1. You can print out the images from our site (or copy them from our book) then glue or trace them onto cardboard or card stock circles. The children can then color the images. Hole punch a hole for a hanging loop. Write the scripture reading on the back.

Depending on how many children you're dealing with and how much money you want to spend, it is also possible to buy wooden disks from a craft store and drill a hole in them if you want something more permanent (though many families use cardboard and it lasts just fine.) I recommend a circle rather than an oval because it doesn't matter where you put the hole.

Another (important) thought: when I was making our Jesse Tree with our children, I carbon paper-ed the images on wooden disks, and outlined the images with a fine tip black marker. The children then painted in the images with acrylic craft paint.

At the time they ranged in age from 10 to 2, so our Jesse tree disks (17 years later) are gaudy, smudged, lumpy and primitive. But, the children loved them, love them still and think that they are beautiful and wonderful. In participating in the craft, they made the teaching message of the Jesse Tree theirs. That's the point, not the appearance of the Jesse tree when it's done.

You will need to prepare disks for the younger ones and then let them paint them. Children aged 10 and over, depending on their dexterity (most girls are better at this than most boys), should be able to help you prepare disks.

Using carbon paper to transfer the designs:

1. Select a wooden disk and lay it on your work surface.
2. Lay a sheet of carbon paper over the disk, "black" or carbon side down.
3. Lay the sheet of designs over the carbon paper and disk. Using your fingers to find the edges of the disk - it'll be covered and a little hard to tell exactly where it is - center the design on the disk. Don't worry if it's not exact, just make sure that the edge of the design isn't off the disk.
4. Resist the temptation to cut out the design to make it easier to center, It won't be easier to trace.
5. When you have the design located on the disk to your satisfaction, draw over the lines of the design with a ball point pen or pencil. Press fairly heavily.
6. Remove the design sheet and the carbon paper. The design will be transferred to the disk by the carbon paper. It's easily rubbed off so now you need to draw over the carbon lines with something else - a ball point pen or a fine marker, which I found works best.
7. Now the disk is ready to color or paint.

You can still find carbon paper at an office supply store.

(Please do not use these images for anything other than personal, family or non-commercial use. If you want to use them for any other purpose, please contact us. Thank you. )

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Book related to this story ...
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Advent & Lent Activities for Children: Camels, Carols, Crosses and Crowns by Sheila Kielly
Price $7.96