It's that time of year again, and millions of people worldwide are preparing to celebrate Christmas. Some like to count down the days with an advent calendar. There are thousands of store bought calendars to choose from, or you can create your own. Here are some of our ideas for Montessori aligned calendars.
A piece of paper with 24 or 25 different activities that the family can do together or special activities that can be done just with the child. Write each activity on a piece of paper and mix them together in a decorated box or jar (if you are OK with having a daily surprise), or fold the paper and write the number of the date you have planned the activity for. I personally mix activities and small gifts (usually items they need like hair clips, crayons and maybe a new pair of underwear or socks).
Here are some ideas:
Dance party in the living room.
Baking Christmas cookies.
Visiting a grandparent or friend.
Reading a special book.
Planting a seed.
Making Christmas cards.
Eating supper outdoors.
Decorating the house for Christmas.
Taking a family photo.
Making hot chocolate / or a seasonal smoothie.
Conducting a science experiment! Put baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl with food colour (primary colours) in other bowls. Show the child how to mix the baking soda in to the other bowls. Then let the child mix different colours.
Donate a toy (and maybe something from the adults as well) to a charity.
Build a snowman (make moon sand out of flour and oil if you don't have snow).
Draw / paint a Christmasy picture (maybe a gift for grandparents? Talk about what Christmas is and some symbols and colours).
Video call someone you love.
Upside down breakfasts! Sit under the table when eating breakfast. Put the food on the chair. Parents have to join in. The sillier the better.
Litter picking around the block. Who can find the strangest thing someone has "lost"?
Look through a family photo album.
Write a Christmas letter to a neighbour and leave it outside their door.
Play outside in the dark. Use flash lights and reflectors.
Prepare the toy shelf for new activities. Remove things that are broken or not used and clean the shelf.
Take a Christmas bath (add red/green bath-safe food colouring or bath bombs to make it special).
Buy a gift for someone.
Prepare Christmas outfits.
Write 24 or 25 affirmations on pieces of paper and place them in a decorated jar. Here are some ideas on how to start with affirmations.
Find 24 or 25 books (use the library, go through your bookshelf, go to a thrift market / charity shop or swap with a friend. The books don't have to be new). Some like to do seasonal books only. Here's a picture of our friend's calendar over at MontessoriAndUs all wrapped sustainably in play silks.
Here are a few of our favourite Christmas and winter books
"For children who are ready, The (Wonderful) Truth About Santa gently guides them through the who, what, and why of the beautiful Santa tradition. The (Wonderful) Truth About Santa's message is that a real St. Nick did once walk the Earth and his generosity inspired parents to give in secret. Your child now has the opportunity to become a secret Santa for anyone they choose and they must never stop believing in good."
"Join a brother and sister as they explore nature and take a stroll through their twinkling town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with everything from the setting sun to curious deer, they say goodbye to autumn and welcome the glorious first snow of winter."
"Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow is a secret world of squirrels and snowshoe hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals who live through the winter, safe and warm."
"In the fall When leaves turn red Bears know soon It’s time for bed Comes winter Comes snow Bears are ready Bears go In their cave Warm and deep Winter is time For bears to sleep A lilting read-aloud text and stunning pictures combine to make an irresistibly appealing picture book that follows these fascinating animal friends through the cycle of the year. A page of facts about bears will answer young readers' questions as they begin to explore the wonders of the natural world."
"In this outstanding picture book collection of poems by Newbery Honor-winning poet, Joyce Sidman (Song of the Water Boatman, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night) , discover how animals stay alive in the wintertime and learn about their secret lives happening under the snow. Paired with stunning linoleum print illustrations by Rick Allen, that celebrate nature's beauty and power."
Part of the magic of the Christmas season stems from the traditions that families and friends take part in every year: hanging up stockings; putting lights in the windows; and, one of the most important of all, picking out and taking home the Christmas tree. With style and warmth, debut author Patricia Toht and Jarvis, the author-illustrator of Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth, evoke all the rituals of decorating the tree — digging out boxes jam-packed with ornaments and tree trimmings, stringing tinsel, and, at long last, turning on those twinkling lights. Joyously drawn and rhythmically written, this celebration of family, friends, and the holiday season is as merry as the tradition it depicts.
Art Supply Calendar
Art supplies are used frequently in many Montessori homes, and Christmas is a good time to stock up. Here are some of our most used art items:
You can take the crayons etc. out of the packet to divide them up and make smaller gifts for multiple days.
Water pens for no mess drawing on the water drawing mat
Skin coloured crayons (multicultural).
Crayon Rocks These crayons are designed to help your child develope a good pencil grip. Gives lots of colour.
Dot Stickers These can be used for so much!
Animal stickers (real pictures). Great fine motor practice.
Golden star stickers to make Christmas cards.
Play doh Big value pack. Maybe your child will want a play doh' only calendar?
Dot Markers can be used in art, to 'dot' letters etc.
Big set of wooden beads to create jewellery
Pencils These are created for young kids learning to write.
Tabletop easel, Working on a vertical surface have many developmentally benefits. This space saving easel is a great alternative to a floor standing one.
Spiralograph This set says 8+, but my students aged 5 - 6 loves it!
Or get this ultimate 48 piece art supply kit for kids ($32.99) and divide it in to all the days of the calendar. Includes smocks, tabletop easels, paint and more.
Buy a ready made calendar
There are thousands of alternatives if you want to buy a calendar for your child. We have tried to find some with items that will last a long time and/or can be used in many different ways.
Practical items: underwear, socks, hair accessories etc
The good samaritan calendar: donation calendar. This can be set up like the advent calendar where you donate toys, sell old items to make money that you then donate, do favours and kindnesses for others etc.
Co-authored and edited by Mie Mari Sløk Rusdal and Jude Saffron
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