Sunday, January 08, 2012

Christmas 2011 - Advent Calendar

In the past, we used an Advent calendar that was very easy to use, to count down the days until Jesus' birth. All AA had to do was remove a magnet. Very cute, but unless you have separate Bible readings or activities planned, it just becomes a count down until Christmas.
This year, after reading many blogs and websites for kids on how to set up some homemade calender, I made a list for each day and stuffed the daily pocket of the L.L. Bean calendar that Nana from the North sent to AA.
Below is my list I printed and cut each day into a strip; along with other readings and sometimes a piece of candy, we really enjoyed seeing her get excited each day to see what was her daily message!

1 – Thursday – This week begins the church Advent season, four weeks before Christmas. We say a prayer at the beginning of each week. Matthew 1:23 - “Behold, Mary shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). What two Bible chapters describe Jesus’ birth? Matthew & Luke.

2 - Friday – Aunt Tiffany’s Birthday is today. Shall we call her and wish her a good day? What is on our front door? A Wreath. (included a sheet on why we hang wreaths and the connection to Jesus).

3 – Saturday – Evergreen tree - Let’s find a Christmas tree and buy it today! Why do we have a pine tree at Christmas time? A cedar or pine tree is an evergreen, everlasting, didn’t turn brown in the winter. Jesus Christ is everlasting, eternal savior to all, God’s creation (included a sheet on why we have a Christmas tree and the connection to Jesus).

4 – Sunday – Ornaments - Let’s decorate the Christmas tree today! Drink eggnog and Champagne (for adults) and be joyous! (included a sheet on why we hang ornaments on the tree and the connection to Jesus; included an ornament in the pocket).

5 – Monday – Bells - The Fleming Island Library is having a Choir of Bells tonight – Let’s go and listen to beautiful music! (included a sheet on why we ring bells and the connection to Jesus; also included a bell in the pocket).

6 – Tuesday – Stars - Is the nighttime sky bright and clear? Let’s go look at the stars. (included a sheet on stars and the connection to Jesus).

7 – Wednesday – Presents - Why do we exchange gifts on Christmas? Jesus’ birthday, the Wise Three Kings brought gifts. Gifts were also associated with St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra (in modern-day Turkey), who became famous for giving gifts to poor children; Sinter Klaas. Buy a toy and bring it to a fire station, Toys for Tots drop off boxes. (included a small gift for her to open).

8 – Thursday – Let’s sing a Christmas Carole with Leaa’s family. Find music to Silent Night to practice on the piano next Monday when you are baby sitting Dylan.

9 - Friday – Candy Cane - Ask your Teacher for school papers to do at condo next Monday & Tuesday; you will miss school while we babysit Dylan next week. The Orange Park Church is having a nativity scene, shall we go see it? It’s all about Jesus being born.

10 – Saturday – Candles - Niece Dylan’s Birthday. Let’s go to her party and take a present! She is two years old – will she have candles on her cake? We are happy to have a fun party to go to. And make sure Mommy has the Christmas cards for family and friends done and you have signed your name to some! Show your love! (included a sheet on candles and the connection to Jesus).

11 – Sunday – We are driving to Cousin Gloria’s condo to stay for two nights while you help babysit Dylan as Jesse is on a trip to play music. Sister Leaa needs your help while she goes to work. Doing a good deed each day keeps us focused on loving others.

12 – Monday – Angel - You’re an angel to be so good and help Daddy with babysitting Dylan. Please learn to play a Christmas Carole (song) on the piano. Mommy will miss you for the day as I deliver all the donated gifts to the Children's Home. (included a sheet on angels and the connection to Jesus, also gave her an angel ornament).

13 – Tuesday – Make paper snowflakes and decorate the windows. Do this with Livi. Scissors and white paper is all you need!

14 – Wednesday – Find one toy in your room that you don’t use or need and give to a needy child (drop off at Church or agency). Giving to others is important. It is better to give than to receive.

15 – Thursday – Fancy dress for dinnertime – Shall we go to the Club for a special dinner? We are thankful for our blessings of plentiful food!

16 - Friday – Let’s help the birds by making pine cone food treats for them (spread peanut butter and nuts or seeds on two cones and hang outside).

17 – Saturday – Thank you cards - why we send them. How can we thank God? (included a sheet on why we write thank you notes, what to write and being thankful).

18 – Sunday – Ribbons - Make homemade hot chocolate; make extras to reheat and take when we drive to see Christmas lights! Any presents to wrap? (included a sheet on ribbons/bows and the connection to Jesus).

19 – Monday – Christa’s Birthday - Go out for Chinese Food and talk about your first Christmas’ with your Mommy and Daddy. Time to bake some Christmas cookies too? Share special memories from 2011.

20 – Tuesday – Please do a good deed today – who can you help at home or school? What will you do that will make someone smile? “Simple Acts of Kindness Make Things Better One Deed at a Time.”

21 – Wednesday – Read the poem Twas the Night Before Christmas. Maybe Daddy knows of a Christmas movie you can watch together?

22 – Thursday – Grandma Cathy’s Birthday. Dr. Seuss and the Grinch: With his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more? Have you seen this movie?

23 - Friday – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round... as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.

24 – Saturday – Luke 2:9-12 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. The angel said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

25 – Sunday – Christmas is here! Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, (14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” We cherish our family and friends and are thankful for the many blessings we have! Write out ten (10) things we are thankful for and place somewhere we can read each day for one week. Let’s go to church!

I came across many Advent calendar ideas so here are a few to get you started: made from toilet paper cardboard rolls with each message wrapped in tissue paper - it's all about decorating each day; this is my favorite kids craft blog (and get the newsletter too), love how she has her own children demonstrate the craft; this home schooling site has many ideas for each day so you choose what fits best for your family; Catholic lesson plans for each day and last, check out Tip Junkie's ideas.
I also wanted to share this craft idea of using cut out hand prints to decorate a large cone to make a very personal Christmas tree decoration. A great family craft!
If you did an Advent calendar, what did you use for messages? I would love to have some new ideas for December 2012!

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