Advent, Advent – A candle shines,
Advent, Advent – A candle shines,
First One – Then Two – Then Three – Then Four,
Then the Christ Child is at the door.
The first light of Advent is the light of the stones,
That shines through the crystals, the seashells and the bones.
One little candle lighted in the wreath,
The earth below – begins to glow.
:: Adding our traditional ‘crystal path’ to the stable area. This leads Mary and Joseph into the stable on Christmas Eve ::
It was asked a few times on various forums, what was in our Belle and Boo Advent bags that we have strung up this year. We are also using elements from the Father Christmas pack amongst our festivities. I like to fill our bags with details of our daily activity. Unfortunately this year, we’re still finishing up the final few weeks of our Grade 1 program. I’d hoped we’d be able to finish up at the beginning of Advent to fully immerse in the Festive preparations, but I’ve just scaled back what we’re doing to cap off the final important lessons amongst our Grade 1 year. I find a lot of these final lessons are predominantly revision and review anyway – which I realise are still important, but they can be done in less formal ways and woven into our Advent happenings. Next year hopefully our plan will stay on track and we’ll have the weeks leading up to Christmas free of school to fully immerse in all of Advent’s loveliness.
:: To be honest – living in a Summer climate for Christmas, I normally try to avoid very heavily based Northern Hemisphere, snowy type Christmas images – and these Belle and Boo Advent bags are very Wintery, but I knew my Belle and Boo loving children would just adore them. Possibly I might have to find a way to incorporate them into our Winter Solstice Activities ::
:: The Graphic Designer in me had to make sure the cards matched the bags! ::
Anyway, I thought I’d share the week in review of what was in our Advent bag for each day. The main source of inspiration I use for our Advent plan is The Advent Craft and Activity Book. I don’t follow the daily plan exactly, but I go through and pick out the activities that we’ll do and then weave them into our Advent program.
Saturday (before Advent commences) – Tell the story of ‘Little Parsley’s Star Crown‘
Sunday (Advent begins) – Prepare for our First Advent Sunday and make the Advent Trifle (this dessert is delicious – page 21 of the book I mentioned. It reminds me of my favourite German cake – The Black Forest Cherry Cake).
Monday – Paint watercolour sheets in golden colours which will be our Christmas cards and tags. I told the story of ‘The Solstice Party’ (as it is Summer here) from page 24 of Earthschooling’s Year of Watercolour Stories program.
Tuesday – Stamp the front of the cards with our Christmas stamps and incorporate the Oak Meadow Kindergarten craft of sponge painting. Summer arrives in our home as well with a ‘Summer cave’ surprise and story in the afternoon. We also begin listening to the Sparkle Stories Audio Advent Calendar.
Wednesday – Answer one of the riddles from The Advent Craft and Activity Book before finding out about today’s activity, which is to make Straw Stars. We also made Date Macaroons (recipe in the book) for Christmas gifts.
:: Marlin was my little helper this week – anytime I sat to do a task, he was by my side asking how he could help or saying “Ma pass Mumma this” ::
:: These are clay tile prints, another Oak Meadow craft. The children imprinted a ‘Christmas Star’ onto the clay pendants and we strung them with Festive ribbon as Christmas gifts for friends ::
Thursday – Baking hazelnut cookies for Christmas gifts with the accompanying story (page 49 in the book)
Friday – Make a pentagram star lantern using previously painted watercolour card. We also spoke about Saint Barbara and the story the author gives in the book about her memories of the cherry branch her grandmother always picked on this day. The children picked a cherry branch to bring inside, remembering the message of Saint Barbara.
:: “Ho Ho Ho – Merry Christmas” – Marlin is playing Saint Nicholas with bubbles from the hand wash bowl ::
:: Chilli and Marlin made gifts to leave out for Saint Nicholas ::
:: The Father Christmas pack from Belle and Boo has these wonderful carrot wraps and signs. The children had a great time walking around the property discussing where Saint Nicholas and his white horse would ‘land’ and then which path they’d take to the house. They laid out the signs directing him to the house and of course, at the front door was this ‘animal parking station’. Our ‘farm kids’ also thought St Nic would need a lead rope to tie his white horse up to! ::
Saturday – Another riddle to answer before finding out about today’s activity. Today is Saint Nicholas Eve so we prepared for that, were supposed to bake Lebkuchen and play the Lebkuchen game from the book. When we finally got around to baking our Lebkuchen, we spoke about the history of Lebkuchen and the differences in the various recipes.
:: Marlin’s current ‘modelling’ stage is to cut the medium into tiny little pieces. I remember this with Chilli when she was the same age and I wondered why she wouldn’t model ‘like she was supposed to’! ::
:: I love that Chilli still lives so much in the magic. On Saint Nicholas morning she said “Lucky Saint Nicholas visits us, Mummy would never buy us these things!” Saint Nicholas’ special gifts this year included modelling bathtime fun from LUSH, Phoenix Raspberry soft drink for their new Frosty mugs, giant – red (organic!!! if you can believe it) candy canes and Saint Nicholas chocolates. Yes, she is quite right – Mummy would never buy her those things! 😉 Luckily Saint Nic also brought his traditional cherries and some pistachios for a dose of good health! ::
Sunday – Celebrating Saint Nicholas Day, baking a star cake and making chocolate clusters for Christmas gifts (recipe from the book).
In reality with still working on a few Grade 1 end of year lessons, some of our baking got missed here and there and we’ve had a big ‘bake day’ this Monday just passed – covering off a few of the missed baking activities from last week so we stay on track with our Christmas gift making.
The things that I love about The Advent Craft and Activity Book is that woven in amongst the recipes and activities there are beautiful stories and verses that I use to accompany activities I feel they pair well with. The stories are Saint legends, fables and experiences from the author’s own childhood. These ‘experience’ stories can easily be told as ‘stories’ to the children – “Once upon a time there was a lady who remembered beautiful things about Christmas’ when she was a little girl. One day she was thinking about the time when…. ” I had seen this book for a few years before I decided to purchase it. Sometimes I do have restraint with my book buying! And when I did, it really inspired and transformed our Advent activities and celebrations. Being of German heritage, I connect very deeply with the activities and remember many of the things the author writes about from my own childhood Christmas’. That’s not to say you have to be German to enjoy nor connect with this book – quite the opposite. The activities, recipes and stories the author shares, the legend and history behind so many classic treats and traditions of the time are really quite wonderful, inspiring and very enriching. I remember the year I did have this book to use in our Advent preparations, I felt there was a deeper ‘richness’ to our Advent period that year, and every year forward since I have used it.
:: Do you remember these Frosty mugs from way back when we were young? I loved my Frosty mug and the children were just as enchanted by this start of Advent and Summer gift as I thought they would be. It is a rather amazing thing. I never cease to be captivated by the Frosty mug! ::
What are some of your favourite or most inspiring Advent resources?