Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Advent! and Our New Nativity Advent Calendar

Today is the first day of Advent, which includes the four Sundays before Christmas. It's a time of preparation for remembering Christ's birthday. I've always associated it as a rather festive period, but after a little Internet reading I see that in past centuries it wasn't all that way.

We have an Advent wreath with four candles on the dining room table. The first week we light one candle each night, the second week, two, and so on. Desert Boy loves that we get to play with candles and fire.

We also brought out some Christmas decorations yesterday at Desert Boy's request, and the house is looking a little bit brighter, with our one-foot Christmas tree up, fake Poinsettias, and other assorted decorations. We'll keep bringing them out over the next weeks so we have new things to look at. One other thing we got out were Advent calendars, where we open one door a day to see a Bible verse and a secret picture.

I just haven't been happy with those little cardboard Advent calendars, so I was trying to figure out something more interactive. I saw that they had cool felt and magnetic Advent calendars online, but they were a little pricey. I found a neat design for making your own felt Advent calendar, but that looked like a little too much work (and I'm not particularly crafty). Finally, I came up with a rather easy idea for our own nativity Advent calendar.
The first step was to go through old Christmas cards. (Yes, I've saved them since we've been married. Do other people save their Christmas cards? I know some must. I just don't want to think of myself as a hoarder.) I found the ones that had Nativity scenes or things that could be put into a Nativity scene (like birds and dogs and cats). Desert Boy had the job of cutting them up.

We also had to clean off part of the refrigerator. It was nice to have a white slate.

I decided that I would put up a little stable on the refrigerator and then have pouches below with numbers and each day we would add something to the scene.

All I had was white posterboard, but we did find a variety of construction paper so we could make it colorful. Desert Girl was most helpful (okay, not really.) She wanted to be a part of it all.
Here's probably the most technical part of the project. I got a ruler and marked out squares 2.5 x 3 inches. Why that size? It just looked right. Fortunately that turned out to be a size that would fit well on the posterboard. Then I gathered up a big stack of construction paper and cut it out.
I drew a number in pencil on each piece of paper and Desert Boy traced it in permanent marker. It was good number practice.
Then it was time to attach the number pouches to the posterboard. The kids weren't really much help for this part. There is definitely a limit to one- and four-year olds can do. I also found out that even if the cap of a gluestick has been left off, if you cut the gluestick in half, there is some sticky part left. I stapled the numbers at the edges of the posterboard for a little extra reinforcement.

Then it was time to tape the posterboard to the refrigerator. (I still need to buy some magnetic tape. It's just that I didn't feel like driving 100+ miles round trip to the nearest store that might or might not have it.)

Desert Girl helped put the different cutouts in the pockets. She made some of the animal noises as she did so. We will have a lot of animals in our stable this year!
And here's the finished product! It will be fun to see how it goes.

And if we can keep Desert Girl, aka Emzilla, from destroying it.

Happy Advent! Do you have any Advent traditions?


Anonymous said...

This is terrific! What a great idea!

gs said...

Please post updates. What a splendid idea!

jendoop said...

Looks great and fun!

You're not the only one who keeps Christmas cards. One year we cut slits in them and stacked them to make a tower. Fun!

jhami said...

That's great Gretchen - and what a creative way to get the kids involved. Looks fun!

By the way, I DO save people's chritmas cards :)

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