Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cone Advent Calendar

With Christmastime so near, it has been time this week to start organizing ourselves a bit more methodically for the season. I've been working through a deep-clean of the house (not so fun), making our Christmas cards (fun, but a reminder to myself to focus on joyfulness of heart and not perfectionism, because, really, perfectionism is a drag), and starting our Christmas projects (really, really all fun). I missed blogging about our Thanksgiving turkey pinecone craft, but I promise that I have been making Thanksgiving a distinct holiday for the kiddos. Well, okay, the lines got a little blurry this week: reading The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was just too enticing with the rain and the firelight, and I actually played Christmas carols this morning.

We are planning to decorate this coming Friday, and I had to decide what to do about our advent calendar. Last year, I had an advent calendar I'd gotten on sale the year prior and saved...and we also made a classic paper chain. It was a little much to do each one every morning and there were drawbacks: the advent calendar was small for Katie's dexterity at the time, and the paper chain (when it wasn't falling down) started to be unreachable as the days counted down. This year I have been pondering: what to do?

I thought about buying another advent calendar, nostalgic from my childhood, but for Katie it would still be difficult to use (the numbers can be hard to find, too), plus there is the expense. They aren't super expensive, but I knew I could do something more cheaply. I thought we might give the paper chain another go, but then I found this from Disney's Family Fun magazine. It is the "cone-iferous forest advent calendar" and the template for making the varied sizes of cones is online. How easy is that?

Since we were up early we had plenty of time to get it done before Toastmasters. Another reason I am thankful for my teaching career prior to having children? I can be energized and ready to teach my babies with a smile by 7:15 AM (with some good coffee, I might add).

Some pictures:
Taken last night right before bedtime: goodnight, babies. Get some sleep before your project tomorrow.

 Eric looks on from the couch, and happy Katie is ready to start our paper craft. She loves, loves projects...and it has been more challenging (understatement of the year) to fit in as many as we used to now that we are a family with two children. But I actually have had some time more recently to do my prep, so we have some projects on board for the coming weeks.

 Basically, the "calendar" consists of several cones or Christmas trees. We made ours very colorful just for fun. Katie and I held the pen together to write the numbers, and she glued on almost all the number circles. We made a glitter star for the 24th tree, the Christmas Eve tree. A little cut-up butcher paper beneath makes snow.
What I love about these trees: they are hollow, so I can hide little treats underneath. I bought some Christmas Hershey's Kisses on sale, and they will fit perfectly under the trees for a little nibble of chocolate each day. The kisses were $3.00 and the only money I spent on this craft (not counting the construction paper, glue, scissors, and glitter which were all on hand).

So I really love this project and it should be fun for Katie to use this year. She can reach this ledge fairly easily now that she has her stool that she painted. The numbers are big enough that we can use this as a good numerical teaching tool for numbers higher than 10.

I'm pretty excited about this one. I definitely recommend this project if you are looking for a traditional advent calendar alternative for little children.