Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! And Happy first week of Advent, as well. I'm feeling a little better this week and I thank you all for your kind words and prayers. I will be slowly catching up with things around here and hope to be back on track soon. I hope you are all doing well, too!
Today I'd like to share some of the ways we're bringing Advent to our learning room this year. I am especially excited about the beautiful wooden tree Bill made for us - modeled after one I spied at HomeGoods recently. When I first saw that tree at HGs I thought two things ... ONE, that it would be perfect for the learning room, and TWO, that Bill could easily make it! (Which he did, God bless him.)
At the time I wasn't sure what exactly I'd do with it, but then things started clicking into place and I came up with a plan ...
And not surprisingly it involves nature!
I think you all know how much we love nature in my family and that we love infusing our faith traditions with simple nature-connections. This Advent season I decided to work with a theme of "All Creation Waits" and since we have many lovely wooden animals in the learning room I thought I might start there ...
But as with any plan, I had to flesh it all out on paper - and post-its!
I decided to tell short simple stories using these toys, reflecting the traditional weekly Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love ... with the overarching theme of seeking or waiting for something (someone). I sorted through all our wooden animals and decided how each one would fit into the story schedule, and then I made up a sort-of storyboard, shown above.
I placed little stickers on the figures and then put them all in a basket ...
... covered them up with a pretty starry-night playsilk and set that basket aside.
Each day Little Bear looks in his basket to find the day's creature(s) and sets them on the Advent Tree. And as he places them on that little ledge, I tell a very brief, simple story. I have these stories mostly written out, and they meander from farmyard to woodland to wider global habitats. I even splurged a little and bought a few new figures that will show up throughout the season - I think Little Bear will be very pleased!
I'm happy to report that four days in - it's been well received! I love how these figures look on the natural wood of the tree, with that cute colorful rug just beneath!
Now, because Earlybird cannot handle storytelling for sensory reasons, I decided to come up with a different Advent plan for him, and the family as a whole. I brainstormed 24 very simple activities (again reflecting nature and faith themes) and then set up a daily "reveal" system I thought EB would enjoy.
I used the learning line for these small cards and some very cute snowflake clothespins I found at Target ($5 for a package of 12).
(If you are interested, here is a PDF I made up with my notes for our Advent activities: All Creation Waits. ❤)
Here is the results of today's Advent tag - gathered branches for St. Barbara's Day!
(Come Christmas, these branches *should* be blooming. It's worked every year!)
Here's a better look at our Advent Tree ...
I will rotate the Christmas books displayed here each week ...
I have a cheery red rolling-bin for the bulk of our books!
Here's a sweet little board book called, The Animals' Advent ...
We're using this countdown, too!
My sidebars are woefully out of date, but I'll try to share our Advent & Christmas book collection with you all soon!
I just love this tree, and can see that there would be many different ways to use it. (Bill made the ledges easily moveable.)
Here is Little Bear holding up today's Advent animal .. the goat!
Goat and his "kid" had a nice little story to tell ... new at the farm, Kid was hoping for a special friend to play with (as was Calf in the previous story). He was also hoping for a chance to run about and jump ... and so didn't my boys find some branches and stumps set up in the backyard for doing just that? (Our neighbors have the loveliest trio of goats and we're quite fond of them. I based this story on some of their clever antics!)
Here's how the first figures are lining up on the bottom shelf of the Advent Tree ...
The lights are so pretty, aren't they? Another Target find - $9.99 a box for a 9-foot line of lights. I used two to outline the tree.
December days are surely dark, but oh - those lights! They lend an air of magic and joy to each and every day of Advent. ❤
More Advent lights and sights around our home to come soon. And fingers-crossed, I'll be hosting our first Advent Tea this Sunday! For now though, I wish you all well - and a very Happy Advent! - and will hope to see you all here again soon. :)