Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent Calendar

I have been so looking forward to doing some fun things with the kids over the holidays. Last Christmas was such a blur with a newborn, and then this summer was so stressful preparing for our move.....I am ready to have some fun!!

I have been working over the last few weeks on putting activities and items together and decided to also introduce an advent calendar this year with Addison and Graham. I want my kids more than anything to know and appreciate the real reason we have Christmas, but I also want them to learn the "other" fun traditions too. Addison is finally getting to an age where she's starting to "get" it.

I found this advent calendar on Etsy....oh, don't even get me started on how much I love Etsy!

Each day, the kids will open a box on the advent calendar and find a slip of paper. It will always give them a clue (or at their age tell them where to look) for their "surprise". It will also include the day's activity and a scripture that will help to tell the Christmas story.

Here is a glimpse of what each day looks like. I made two copies. One to cut up and put in the advent calendar, and one for me so I would remember what we were doing each day and where to hide the surprises!
This year I purchased this adorable Little People Nativity set from fisher price online. I will include parts of the set each day in the box so that the kids can begin to tell and play the story as we learn a different scripture each day.

I am also excited because we are going to introduce this guy this year! Nothing like a little motivation for good behavior, right?
Each day I'll also put one of the Christmas books from their collection out that we'll read. We have a lot of Christmas books, but we don't have enough to do one every day, SOO.....

I also looked under the App Store for Apple and found free Christmas apps and read along stories that we can do. So fun....and free!!!
Speaking of Apple apps...
I found an app where you can call Santa on your phone...not free but could be money well spent over the next few years.

Can you imagine?

Addison throwing a fit right in Target..... "Uh oh", "I'm going to have to call Santa and tell him about this."

Sometimes in the box, I'll include little surprises that I found at the Target $spot, or even some things that we've already had or been given to us by grandparents. Some of these things they've forgotten about, so it will be new all over again and won't cost me a cent!

Like these...
they were gifts last year, but I'm introducing them to the art of regifting this year!
Target dollar spot finds

I'm keeping everything in this big tub so it's hidden, but semi-organized for me to find it each day.

The following may be information overload, but I am mainly including this so that I can have it to look back on next year. I'm also not ashamed to admit that the teacher part of me sometimes misses that organizational high I get when I just completed a rock star week of lesson plans. It's messed up, I know......I also wanted to share with my friends so activities and ideas that I found, and am looking forward to you sharing some traditions or neat activities you do in the comments section.


Lastly, because Addison is so into singing lately....not well, I might add, sadly, I believe she has inherited my ability, but she loves it nonetheless. So...we will be working on learning a new song each week.

Here we go...

December 1

Activity: Elf Yourself
Surprise: Little People Mary & Angel
Scripture: Mary lived in the little town of Nazereth. One day, God sent the Angel, Gabriel, to see her. "Don't be afraid, Mary", said Gabriel
Song: Jingle Bells

December 2

Activity: Name our Elf
Surprise: Elf on A Shelf
Scripture: "God has a special plan for you. You are going to have a baby. You must call him Jesus. He will be a great King," said the angel. Mary was confused.
Song: Jingle Bells

December 3

Activity: paint our nails Christmas colors
Surprise: red & green nail polish
Scripture: "The baby will be God's Son." Gabriel explained. "God is great; he can do anything." Mary smiled, "I will do whatever God asks me."
Song: Jingle Bells
Book: Santa Kid

December 4

Activity: Sea World with grandparents
Surprise: Little People Joseph
Scripture: "Joseph was going to get married to Mary. When he heard about Mary's baby, he was worried. That night while Joseph was sleeping, God sent an angel with a special message.
Song: Jingle Bells
Book: Bob & 6 more Christmas stories

December 5

Activity: make ornaments
Surprise: ornament craft kit (Target find)

Scripture: "Joseph", the angel said. "Don't worry!" God wants you to marry Mary and take care of her. Mary's baby has been made by God's Holy Spirit. The baby's name will be Jesus. One day he will rescue God's people." Now Joseph was happy to marry Mary.
Song: Jingle Bells

December 6

Activity: color in Christmas stocking (You can find this printable here).
look at Christmas lights and drink hot cocoa
Surprise: markers for coloring, Donkey & Wagon for nativity set
Scripture: Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. It was very busy because people had come to be counted just as the Roman dmperor had wanted.
Song: Away in a Manger

December 7

Activity: make reindeer cookies

Surprise: Little People innkeeper and inn at Bethlehem
Scripture: Mary and Joseph had traveled for a long time and they needed a place to sleep, but all of the inns were full.
Song: Away in a Manger

December 8

Activity: Fingerpaint with Christmas colors
Surprise: fingerpaints, Little People stable & animals
Scripture: "There is a place where you can stay." said an innkeeper at last. He showed them to a warm, dry, stable.
Song: Away in a Manger

December 9

Activity: Play with Christmas playdoh and cookie cutters
Surprise: playdoh & Little People Jesus
Scripture: That night, Jesus was born. Mary wrapped him warmly and laid him to sleep in the hay.
Song: Away in a Manger

December 10

Activity: Go to the zoo for "Jungle Bells"
Surprise: Little People shepherds and sheep, lip balm
Scripture: The shepherds were busy looking after their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared, surrounded by God's dazzling light.
Song: Away in a Manger
Book: Sandra Boynton

December 11

Activity: Santa Claus cotton ball craft (find it here)
Surprise: Christmas socks
Scripture: The shepherds were very scared. "Don't be afraid!" the angel said. I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!
Song: Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

December 12

Activity: buy a gift for another child
Surprise: bubble bath and Santa hats to make bubble bath beards at bathtime
Scripture: "Today in Bethlehem, God's special King has been born!"
Song: Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
Book: Sandra Boynton

December 13

Activity: make grandparents cards (craft can be found here)
Surprise: M&M candy canes
Scripture: You will find the baby lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Song: Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

December 14

Activity: go to aquarium
Surprise: Christmas candles & stickers
Scripture: Then the sky was filled with lots of angels singing to God.
Song: Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
Book: Sandra Boynton

December 15

Activity: make homemade Christmas granola to give to neighbors and friends

I found these at Target in the dollar spot!
Perfect to hold treats

Surprise: ingredients for making treats
Scripture: "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on Earth!"
Song: Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
Book: Sandra Boynton

December 16

Activity: select toys of our own to give away to other children.
Surprise: a new Christmas app to play with
Scripture: The shepherds were so excited. They said to each other, "Come on! Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened!"
Song: Silent Night

December 17

Activity: make holiday pretzel treats (recipe here)
Surprise: Starbucks card to go get hot cocoa at Starbucks, ingredients for treats
Scripture: They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. There was the baby, lying in a manger.
Song: Silent Night

December 18

Activity: make spiced tea (Daddy's favorite)
Surprise: Ho Ho Holiday matching game (printable here), Movie Elf
Scripture: Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about Jesus.
Song: Silent Night
Book: Gingerbread house

December 19

Activity: make reindeer cake pops

I have an obsession with cake pops. Please tell me you have been to Bakerella's site! She has a book out now that is on my wish list as well. Maybe Santa will bring it to me this year!

Surprise: Little People 3 Wise Man
Scripture: About this time some wise men saw a bright star in the sky.
Song: Silent Night
Book: Christmas Tale (free interactive book by Apple)

December 20

Activity: make a wreath collage out of scraps of wrapping paper
Surprise: How the Grinch Stole Christmas DVD & Little People camels
Scripture: They knew it told of a birth of a special king, so they began to follow the star as it guided them to Bethlehem.
Song: Silent Night
Book: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Apple interactive book)

December 21

Activity: write a letter to Santa
Surprise: Tickets to go to the Children's Museum & Christmas village printable
Scripture: The star stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!
Song: Jingle Bells & Away in a Manger
Book: Jingle all the Way (Interactive free book by Hallmark)

December 22

Activity: make a train cake and decorate with Nana & Poppy

somehow, I don't see our turning out quite like this.....

but we're going to do our best using this

Surprise: Polar Express DVD to watch after making the cake
Scripture:They entered the house where Jesus and Mary were and they fell down before him and worshiped him.
Song: Rudolph & Silent Night
Book: Target Dollar Spot book

December 23

Activity: go visit Santa and bring him the letter & perform Christmas concert for Nana and Poppy singing the songs we've learned
Surprise: shaving cream to be used to make snowscape (play and get messy!)
Scripture: They gave him gifts of gold because it was the perfect gift for a King.
Book: Review the Christmas story using Children's bible

December 24

Activity: Addison is going to retell the Christmas story using the Little People nativity set.
Surprise: Tonight the elves will come and fill our stockings!
Scripture: They gave the gifts of Frankincense because it was used to burn in worship of God and myrrh to show that Jesus would die for our sins.
Book: Night Before Christmas (Apple interactive book)

December 25

Merry Christmas!!

Ok, if you're actually still reading this, I'm impressed! I think that was my longest post ever.
Now....please share some fun activities/traditions you do with your family!!


Callie said...

for real??? you are awesome! can I just steal all your ideas for next year? I LOVE this! Youa re doing such a great job with those two babies all while being so far from home. Can't say enough how proud I am of you!!! Miss you tons though!

Kat and Craig said...

i love it!! this is awesome. we actually bought a advent calendar this year.. i just needed ideas for the boxes!! yippy! you are martha.

The Manuel Family said...

Wow - I'm so impressed! We have the Little People Nativity set and Caroline loves it - plus its a good way to teach her about the Christmas story. :) The Elf of the Shelf is making its 3rd annual appearance at our house tomorrow night. Its name is Snopolus...don't ask. :)

Jane said...

So so cute!!! I REALLY miss the rock star lesson plans at school and you too!!!! Hope you are all doing well :)

Lacey said...

Ummm...... I am starting to think you have way too much time on your hands. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you really have a lot to do, and you really don't want to do it, so you did this instead. :) JK. I am really impressed. Love it!! What a fun December and learning time for the kiddos!!! Wish you were still here.....Miss YA!

Katie said...

This is fantastic and is a huge discussion under my current FB status. My mom did something very similar-she wrote the activities on paper links and made a chain that was hung in our house on December 1st. We got to tear off a link each night and do whatever activity was listed. I have put a link to this post on my FB page! AMAZING!

Lindsay Wagner said...

um, i can't even tell you how much i appreciate this post!!! i did something similar last year where hayden had a piece of paper to open that told of a fun christmas activity we were going to do that day, but i love all your other ideas: read a different story each day, tell them where their treat is located, etc....i must say that i was super impressed with your lesson plans also! it's the teacher in us! :) i "might" or might not be copying this 100% starting tomorrow.....

Lindsay Wagner said...

ok, just read thru day by day and saw that you asked for our traditions! we have an advent house with a little treat and a daily activity. i also started making christmas plates when hayden had her first christmas. we go to the pottery place, and i either do a handprint or a footprint and turn it into something. the first year was hayden's footprints to make a reindeer, the 2nd year was hayden's handprints to make a tree, last year was hayden's hands and ainsley's feet and this year was both of the girls hands. i get to pick up this years plate on sunday, and i can't wait! we pull them out and eat on them daily during crazy to see how much they've grown over the years!

Diana Glade said...

So I know you don't know me, but I was googling advent calendars for kids, and for some reason your post came up. First of all, I loved your ideas! But I'd love to know, what camera do you have? Your pictures (and your family) are beautiful!

Jamie said...

Seriously Friend! I am exhausted...not sure if we can hang anymore, you are entirely way out of my league when it comes to creativity! How about we do Seaworld this Saturday, it's more my speed!