A Jesse tree is a traditional Advent craft which shows the relationship of Jesus to famous people from the bible. Every day you read the story of somebody related to Jesus from the Bible and hang an ornament on the tree with a symbol which represents the person you just read about. This helps our families understand our salvation history and that God has been working with a purpose through the ages to bring about our salvation.
Activities like this help our children understand that all throughout history God has prepared us for the life He intends us to live. He gave us the holy men and women of the Old Testament to prepare us for the coming of Jesus. In the same way, He sends people into our lives today to draw us closer to Him.
This is also a wonderful way to remind our families that this is a time of preparation for Christmas, not the Christmas season itself. Just as God prepares us for salvation, we can use this holy season of Advent to prepare ourselves.
Here are a few sites to get you started:
This article from CatholicCulture.org has instructions for making a Jesse tree, some history, and a list of symbols and readings for each day.
These Jesse tree instructions from Our Sunday Visitor are geared towards young children. This article includes a link to some coloring pages you can download and print out to make the ornaments for each day.
Shower of Roses demonstrates how to make a felt Jesse tree in this article. This is a nice approach for kids who are a little too old for the coloring pages.