Hello my friends and Happy Thursday! I know we're but a few days away from the 1st of December, so you probably have your Advent plans already in place, but here I am anyways, to share what my Advent project looks like this year ... :)
In addition to a few treasured traditions, I really enjoy coming up with something new for my boys every year! (Check out my Advent Plans & Crafts archives if you'd like to see past projects.)
So this year I decided to revolve our Advent countdown around picture books - meaningful and beautiful stories we've enjoyed as a family for years. As I've blogged about before, we have an awful lot of books - longtime homeschooling family that we are! - and though they are indeed spread out all over the house, I do like to organize them by subject and season.
Case in point - here's our Christmas book bin:
True confession: there are more books now than can fit in this pretty rolling bin ... and yes, those are my slippered feet in the bottom of the pic!
So, as you can see, we have many, many Christmas books ... so what I did first was to go through the WHOLE stash and pull out the ones we (ahem, I) love best. Then I looked over our December calendar, considered our weekly seasonal themes and then organized the books into separate piles ...
1st pile: WEEK ONE "cozy nests, stars/sticks/stones" (St. Barbara, St. Nicholas)
2nd pile: WEEK TWO "seasonal spices and Christmas trees" (OL Guadalupe, St. Lucia, EB & Papa's B.day)
3rd pile: WEEK THREE "welcome winter & advent animals" (Winter Solstice, Full Yule Moon)
4th pile - WEEK FOUR (which is just 12/24) "O Holy Night" (Christmas Eve)
I realize this all sounds rather complicated, but there is a method to my madness, I promise! Here is the low-tech spreadsheet I made up for myself as I worked it all out ...
And here's a corner of my December month-at-a-glance calendar, showing how I note our weekly themes ...
Next, once I had my 24 books all assigned to their dates, I placed them in a basket so I could get down to work ...
Naturally, Archibald offered to help ...
I went through each book and chose an illustration to photocopy, something that would hopefully be rather easy to identify ...
Then I gathered the rest of my materials: poster board, washi tape, stickers, post-it notes, glue stick, pen. All items I already had on hand!
I figured a post-it was a good size for a small illustration, so I first made sure I could fit 24 on the board and then I started cutting out my illustrations!
(Remember - these are photocopies!)
Once I had all my picture squares, I placed them in order and then decorated the edges of the poster board.
I used an Elmer's glue stick for this and it worked just fine adhering the copy paper to the poster board ...
I used Christmas-y washi tape to jazz up the poster board a bit. I also used up some old stickers I had on hand as you can see below ..
Next I placed a plain white post-it note over each illustration ...
And then ... I placed a log slice sticker on the bottom edge of each post-it. The post-it notes hide the illustration and the stickers keep that post-it note from flipping up and revealing any hints!
Close ups of the poster/post-it/sticker situation ...
Festive, yes? :)
Lastly, I used a red pen to number each sticker ...
And secured Archie's approval, natch ...
And that's it!
Well, actually ... there is much more to it and I will now get to all that. :)
Honestly though, this was a super easy project to pull together this morning. The photocopying took the longest time I think.
Here's how (I hope) my plan will unfold ...
Each day the boys will pull the day's post-it off and, using the revealed illustration, will head to the Christmas Library to try to find the book of the day. (I may also stick a number on the day's book to make it easier for my boys who are pretty young and might need help with this. Little Bear is not yet so familiar with the Christmas book collection and Earlybird may not recognize the illustrations.)
We will then all read the book together! (Please see my book list below.)
I am taking it a little further by planning a simple activity to go along with our Advent reading each day. I am not sharing this "Advent Agenda" with the boys beforehand however, because, as I've learned in the past, it's best to determine first if an activity will work - given the time/energy/weather/mood of the boys - and their mama! I have included my ideas below, next to the book titles.
I hope you enjoy the list and maybe can use an idea or two!
The PDF: Advent Countdown: Stories & Simple Activities
Celebrate Christmas: With Carols, Presents and Peace by Deborah Heiligman
*Set up our Advent Garden.*
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
*Watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate!*
The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans
*Make beeswax candles for Advent Garden.*
An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola
*Nature walk: gather twigs and other natural craft materials.*
Angelina’s Christmas by Katharine Holabird
*Take an evening stroll around neighborhood - deliver holiday cards.”
Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki
*Saint Nicholas Teatime: mulled cider and speculaas cookies.*
Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones
*Make twig stars and other natural-material ornaments.*
Night Tree by Eve Bunting
*Go to The Farm and get our Christmas Tree!*
Country Angel Christmas by Tomie dePaola
*Cookie Baking Day with Nana!*
The Animals’ Santa by Jan Brett
*Decorate a Solstice Tree for the backyard Animals.*
The Golden Christmas Tree by Jan Wahl
*Make golden glitter tree ornaments.*
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
*Visit the Nursery to see poinsettias. Make cinnamon-sugar tortilla stars with fresh pineapple-mint salsa. Tacos for supper!*
Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
*Bake and decorate gingerbread folk.*
My Wonderful Christmas Tree by Dahlov Ipcar
*Write and perform a Woodland Christmas puppet show.”
Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray
*Take a nighttime Christmas lights drive.*
A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
*Watch the bird garden at sunrise while sipping hot cocoa.*
The Christmas Bird by Bernadette Watts
*Set up our children’s creche.”
The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes
*Make moon ornaments for Solstice Tree; watch moonrise tonight.”
Corgiville Christmas by Tasha Tudor
*Bonfire night! Make magic pinecones to burn in fire.*
Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown
*Make homemade gift wrap.*
Bear Noel by Olivier Dunrea
*Family Solstice Supper with hot wassail, cottage pie and sun cake.”
The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol by Tomie dePaola
Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren
*Visit an outdoor nativity scene at night.”
The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Douglas Gorsline
There will be new pajamas and slippers and steamed almond milk before bed!
I hope you enjoyed my Advent ideas! Please remember - my goal is not to do every single thing on my list, but rather, to use the "plan" to create an atmosphere ... a slower, peaceful and happy time of anticipation. The 24 days of Advent pass very quickly and I sincerely hope every one of them brings you much comfort and joy!
Well my friends, as always, I thank you for stopping by and wish you all a pleasant day ... see you here again very soon!