By Michael Hartley
In case you aren't familiar with them, an Advent Calendar is basically a calendar for the days in December leading up to Christmas. But each "day" on the calendar is actually a little window, or pocket, which the child can open up on the appropriate day. Inside the window they might find a small treat, or a picture with a Christmassy theme.
If you've got young kids looking forward to Christmas, an Advent Calendar can help in many ways.
- There'll be no more need (or less, anyway) to repeatedly answer questions like "Can I open my presents today?". The child can see from the Calendar how many days are left.
- It will help your child become more familiar with calendars in general, or with counting.
Because they are good for teaching counting and calendars, I decided to make an Advent Calendar for people to download from this site. So, follow the steps below and you'll have our very own homemade advent calendar!
- First, download the advent calendar pictures, and print both pages onto paper as large as your printer is able.
- The front page shows a building with 25 numbered windows. With a sharp trimmer, cut three sides of each window, so they can be opened.
- Turn the front page over, and put glue on the back, being careful not to get glue on the windows!! Don't put too much glue!!
- The back page shows 25 Christmas icons. These should line up with the windows. Making sure you carefully align the two pages, paste the back page to the front page so that the pictures will be visible when the windows are opened. Make sure you get the pages the right way up, and so forth!
- Test the windows, allow the glue to dry, and then you are ready to introduce the Advent Calendar to your child.
By the way, if you'd prefer to get the front and back pages professionally printed, they are also available as Zazzle Posters. Follow these links to buy the front page or the back page. You can choose the size of your calendar then - even up to 6 feet high!! Just make sure you get both the front and back, and get them at the same size!!! Anyway, Zazzle has a good returns policy, at least before you start with the trimmer and glue!
So, you've introduced your child to the Advent Calendar. What next?
- Every day, at the same time, sit with your child as he or she opens a window of the calendar.
- Ask them questions like "What day is it today?" or "yesterday you opened window 5, what window do you open today?" so that the experience becomes an occasion for some passive and fun math learning.
- Talk about the picture, perhaps explaining what it means, and what it has to do with Christmas. If you aren't sure yourself, I accept the blame completely! Just have a good laugh as you and your child try to guess what it might be!
- When the last window is opened (and the words "Merry Christmas" appear!) it's Christmas Day, and time to open the gifts!
PS - I hope, soon, to upload a larger printable version of the front and back pages (split over two pages each), and also upload a black-and-white version for your child to color before you paste. Stay tuned!