Counting Down to Christmas
The 24-day countdown to Christmas is popularly known as Advent. It's a busy time of preparation – sending cards, baking treats, wrapping gifts, and so on. In many Christian cultures, Advent (the four Sundays before Christmas) is the nativity preparation for the coming of the Christ child. Advent is from the Latin words meaning "to come." Below are a few ideas on making Christmas Advent calendars that are fun and help young children visualize the days before the holiday arrives.
Cut one-inch strips of red and green construction paper. You will need 12 of each color. Glue or staple the strips, threading one into another to form a chain of 24 loops. Attach a large paper bell-shape to the end of the chain. On the bell write this rhyme and recite it with your children.
Waiting for Christmas is the longest time of the year.
How many days before Saint Nick will appear?
Take a link from this bell as each day appears,
And Christmas will be here when the chain disappears.
Advent Activity Chain
Cut 24 strips of (12 each) red and green construction paper. This time before making the chain, write a holiday activity on each strip such as read a favorite Christmas story, listen to Christmas music, create a card, make a present, and so on. Remove a link daily and do the task or activity that is written on the link. Another variation is to write movement activities on the links and lead the family in an exercise routine, such as doing jumping jacks, running in place, marching, skipping, and so on.
Ornament Wreath Calendar
Cut a large wreath shape from cardboard and paint it green. When dry, attach 24 small squares of Velcro randomly around the wreath. Place the other half of the Velcro squares to miniature ornaments for holiday trees. Place all the ornaments onto the wreath. To use this wreath as an Advent or countdown activity, have the children remove one ornament each day and place it on your Christmas tree. When all the ornaments have been taken off the wreath, it's finally Christmas!
Individual Candy Advents
Give each child in your family a dinner-size paper plate (paper, not the plastic kind). Invite them to draw and color holiday pictures on the plate surface. Provide each child with 24 small wrapped candies and let them tape these to the plate. Print the child's name at the top. Hang these in your kitchen or near the Christmas tree. After dinner each evening, let the children remove one candy from their plate. The candy will all have disappeared when Christmas day is here.
Santa's Bag Advent Game
Collect 24 toys from around the house and place these into a pillowcase. Tie a big bow around the opening. Everyday (choose your time) have your child reach in and take out one toy. Recite this rhyme together.
How many days till Christmas? It seems a long, long, spell,
But in this pillowcase there's an easy way to tell.
Each day from this sack, a toy I take away,
And when there are no more,
Tomorrow will be Christmas Day!
- Photo Credit: Tania Cowling
- Rhymes were adapted from Channels to Children by Carol Beckman, Roberta Simmons, & Nancy Thomas. The authors of the original rhymes are unknown.