Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The 'Advent Book Calendar' and The Christmas Story Activity

With Advent about to start in just a few weeks, the Christmas decorations have well and truly started showing in a commercial sense at the shops which has made me start to think about our Advent preparations. 

Last year, I came across an idea and had just enough time to prepare for it before Advent started: an Advent Book Calendar, simply, a book for each day leading up to Christmas. This meant a minimum of twenty four books wrapped, numbered and placed near our Christmas tree ready for my son to open in the morning. This was a great visual and tactile countdown to Christmas with the added bonus of reading and sharing the excitement and anticipation of the birth of Jesus. I had thought only master-almost-three at the time would be interested in this activity but once miss-fifteen-month-old saw all the unwrapping going on she wanted to join in on the fun too! We would open a book in the morning and read it throughout the day together with the previous days' books. Such a wonderful time to share and reconnect with all our favourite books.

I found this activity was an absolute success! I find in general, having too much choice (books and activites) on a daily basis can be overwhelming and makes it a bit harder for the children to keep things tidy, so the selection of books was a mix of old ones from when they were babies right through to the current favourites which they read on a daily/weekly basis. Added in the mix were activity books, a few new books and of course our ever growing collection of Christmas books which only come out at Advent and stay for the following twelve days of Christmas. So thrilling for a little child. It brings a smile to my face just thinking of their pure, innocent joy :)

This year I'll wrap a set for each child with the 'Christmas' books to be a shared opening, starting with the traditional Catholic 'The Christmas Story' from the Little Golden Books range. This particular book is a perfect introduction for a child as it is simply told and beautifully illustrated. Just thinking about this book reminds me of when I first started reading it to our then ten-month-old-son during his first Advent, before he was tucked into bed each night.

Our first Christmas book from our growing collection

We will read 'The Christmas Story' daily throughout Advent at dinner as we did last year, with my son re-enacting alongside using the little Nativity figurines which their Grandmother kindly gave us. No doubt there will be turn taking in the re-enacting this year!

During the day the Nativity set is packed up in a basket together with the book. Last Advent the children knew that they could work with 'their' set as an activity throughout the day as they wished and would often do so, often asking me to read it to them, retelling the story to themselves, 'playing' with the figurines or in a truer sense, meditating on the story of Christmas. Little children are never too young to absorb the true mystery of Christmas!

A scene from last year. You can see the three
wise men in the background on their way to

visit Jesus.

The Advent Book Calendar is wonderful, hands-on activity and something that can be as cheap as a few rolls of Christmas wrapping paper!

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