The month before Christmas is the perfect time to emphasize lessons about faith as a way to decrease the influence of commercialism on your family. Children tend to look forward to the toys and other gifts they will receive, but participating in faithful activities as a family can remind them that we celebrate the many gifts God has given us when we commemorate the birth of Jesus.
A few years ago, I started making a list of daily activities for my children to do during Advent as a way to help them count the days until Christmas and learn more about our faith. I have relied on a number of sources for help with these activity lists, including some at Hubbard's Cupboard that were researched by my friend Jen. I wish I could say I remember the sources of everything I will share with you here, but I do not. If you recognize something that needs a credit to the original creator of that idea, please let me know.
A fun way to organize your list of activities that resembles a traditional Advent calendar is to write or type them out on strips of paper and place each one inside a pocket of some kind. I use the calendar below that we bought on clearance after Christmas a few years ago. My children also enjoy creating and recreating the Nativity scene on top; each piece attaches with Velcro and can be moved around.
We just happened to find this calendar, but if you don’t have one, you can make your own string of “pockets” by purchasing baby socks with Christmas designs or colors and clip them onto a pretty ribbon with small laundry pins. Then, hang your calendar within reach of your children and fill each sock with an activity slip. If you hang Christmas stockings on the mantle, this type of calendar will complement them nicely. My friend Jen hangs hers on a bookshelf.
Here is a list of some of the activities I have included the last few years. I will list them in English and Spanish, since I type them in Spanish for my children each year.
Make the Advent wreath and light one candle./Haz la corona de Adviento y prende una vela.
Listen to the story of the candy cane and think about what its shape represents./Escucha la historia de la caña de azúcar y pensa en lo que se forma representa.
Make cookies in the shape of angels, stars, and crosses./Haz galletas en forma de ángeles, estrellas, cañas de azúcar y cruces.
Listen to the story of Mary, Jesus’s mother./Escucha la historia de Maria, la madre de Dios.
Listen to Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9: 6-7 and prepare a cradle for Jesus./Escucha Isaías 7:14 e Isaías 9: 6-7 y preparar una cuna para Jesús.
Listen to the story of Saint Juan Diego and make a paper doll image of him./Escucha la historia de San Juan Diego & haz una imagen de muñeca de papel de él.
Pray the rosary to Our Lady of Guadalupe./Ora el rosario a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
Give thanks to God for Christmas trees and for eternal life./Dile gracias a Dios para los árboles de Navidad y la vida eterna.
Listen to the Gospel of Luke 2: 1-20 and draw the nativity./Escucha el Evangelio de Lucas 2:1-20 y dibujar la natividad.
Listen to the story of the Little Drummer Boy and think about the gifts we can give to Jesus./Escucha la historia del Tamborilero y pensa en los regalos que podemos dar a Jesús.
I have listed just a few ideas; if you have others, I hope you will share them. Even though my calendar pictured above starts on December 1, Advent begins on November 27, just over two weeks away. (For 2012, Advent begins on December 2.) Until then, I’ll be busy thinking up new activities that I will post here, hopefully before then, along with a list of some of our favorite books for the Advent and Christmas seasons. See the second part of this post here.
If you need an idea for an advent wreath, go here.
In 2012 I am linking with:
In 2011, I linked with: