Wise men marched as glitter flew in churches in Falmouth, Penryn, and the surrounding villages this week as 350 school children aged five to eight enjoyed Advent Adventures workshops.

The workshops gave pupils the opportunity to make Christmas wreaths, dress up as nativity characters, hear the Christmas story, and make prayer baubles helped by an army of volunteers from the churches. Biscuits and refreshments were then enjoyed as the sessions ended.

The Advent Adventures workshops took place in five different church buildings with nine schools across 13 sessions. It was led by Jane Wheeler, Schools and Families Lead, in Carnmarth South deanery, who was assisted by three curates as well as church volunteers.

The workshops, which started two years ago, have proved popular with schools. During the first year in 2021, Jane worked with just two schools, King Charles and St Francis in Falmouth. Last year five schools had signed up to take part and this year there are nine schools including Flushing, Mawnan, Mabe, Marlborough, and Penryn Primary.

Jane said: “I am a teacher and I understand what schools need in terms of the curriculum as well as the stresses on teachers. This sort of thing is a good learning experience and is also great fun and that’s why it’s successful.”

Part of the curriculum focusses on what churches do during Advent and that’s where these sessions are useful. Jane said: “We can help pupils to learn about this. We talk about the Christmas Wreath and the colour change in altar tablecloth to purple, we also tell the Christmas story.”

Zoe Mitchell, year 1 class teacher at Flushing School, said: “We try to come to the church a couple of times a year. The children recognise it’s a special place and its good for them to meet and work with people in their local community. We are working on the Nativity as part of the RE curriculum and coming to the church for this workshop helps with that.”

The workshops are part of Carnmarth South’s deanery plan to build relationships with children, young people, families, and schools. Ensuring volunteers from each church take part in the workshops to develop the building of relationships with their local school is a vital piece of the work.

At St Peter’s Church in Flushing for the first workshop, volunteer Leslie gets busy helping a group of five, five and six-year-olds to stick holly leaves onto plates. Leslie, who is also a governor at the local school, is a familiar face to the youngsters. For the last 16 years Lesley has gone into the school every Monday to take an assembly. And it is easy to see Leslie’s importance to the children as they are keen to see if she will be attending their Christmas concert.

Jane added: “Relationship building is really the key thing. It is good for the churches and it’s also good for the children and schools.”

If you would like to find out how you could run something similar in your parish, benefice or deanery, please do get in touch with Jane via email.