Before becoming a huge business for chocolate manufacturers, food-processing industry, toys manufacturers, cosmetic industry and basically anybody who has a brand out there, Advent Calendar was a way of patiently waiting until the Christmas day.
Originally a German tradition, this special calendar was made of drawings representing scenes from the Gospel and a prompt for a good action. Nowadays we all know what Advent Calendar has become.
Since I was not into the modern version but I still liked the idea of counting the days until Christmas with my daughter, I decided to do my own Advent Calendar. I found 24 activities, one for each day and I printed them out on small cards along with a picture representing each activity. I used enveloppes, suspended with ribbons and a coat-hanger. And that was it. The only thing I bought to make our Advent calendar were some star stickers (my daughter is fascinated by stars at the moment).
These activities are more or less things that we do anyway: listening to music, reading books, baking, Montessori activities... I also wanted to add good actions and activities related to the Christmas' values (giving, sharing, being grateful, ...). Every card is more about the time we spend together in a mindful way than about the material things.
Another thing about our calendar is that if we have time we do the activities then we keep the ideas for later. This keeps the pressure away.
So here is our plan:
Most cards start with "Today we will..."
- read all our books about winter
- decorate our Winter table
- go to a German Christmas Market
- Today it’s Saint Barbara. We will sow wheat
- Today we will bake Mr Ginger Bread (traditional Alsatian Mannele)
- Today it’s Saint Nicolas: we will have a shadow theatre play telling St Nicolas' story
- One of the values of Christmas is giving. Today we will donate something to a child
- make a gift for a friend and send it out
- make winter cards for your grand-parents and send them out
- experience with Christmassy and sensorial play dough
- listen to Christmas songs
- Experience with snow dough (Note: that week we will explore the white color so each day we will have an activity around that)
- Experience with sparkling snow sand
- bake a white cake
- Sensorial experience with white fabrics
- Arrange white flowers into vases
- Winter –inspired Montessori activities
- read books about seasons
- paint snow flakes
- Christmas-inspired Montessori activities
- bake Christmas cookies
- Montessori-inspired activity with Christmas paper dolls (Note: we will be travelling that day)
- go to a French Christmas Market (This is our multicultural activity ;) The style of the French Christmas markets is quite different than the German one)
- read books about Christmas
- celebrate Christmas all together
I think that the most important things that our Advent Calendar brings are firstly, the focus on the time we spend together, mindfully doing activities we enjoy and secondly the opportunity for my daughter to "see" how time goes by.
Probably next year, when my daughter will be more aware of the time concept, I will organize the numbers in a row, in the Montessori way, as we do it with the Montessori Timeline.