I thought I'd wrap up my posts on planning for Advent by sharing some of the activities I'm hoping to do with Susie (and Chip, at times) this year. My children are very young, so this won't be what everyone would want to do, but perhaps it will help get your ideas flowing. As I mentioned before, I've been writing down in my planner something for each day to make the entire season of Advent a celebration, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent.
That Sunday we will get out our regular Nativity set, candles and do our Advent Scripture reading. This will also be the first day Susie gets to open a book. The next day is when we will put up the Christmas tree, and the day after that is when we will get out the toy Nativity set and a few days after that, the Advent calendar. I feel like having a good amount of Christmas decorations beautifying our home increases a child's awareness that we are celebrating something special!
On the days that we do not have a scheduled event, I am writing "Advent craft" on these days. I have started gathering some fun craft ideas that I think Susie will enjoy. Here are a few:
This free downloadable preschool pack has lots of activities with colors, numbers, letters, etc, all based on people and characters in the nativity story. I'm not sure we will do all of it, but it's very cute, and I think Susie will dig it.
I want to make salt dough ornaments with Susie and Chip's little hand prints on them. I found the directions for the dough on this blog.
This blog post has quite a few adorable craft ideas for nativity scenes, including a gingerbread nativity, one with people made from toilet paper rolls, etc. I'm planning to have Susie and Chip act out the nativity story as well, complete with costumes (like she shows in the pictures) even though I only have enough children to play Mary and baby Jesus. :)
Here are some great little lessons written by Amy Brown (who I know from my days as a student in SWI at SBTS) as well as Advent coloring pages on "Ministry to Children". I definitely plan to use coloring pages! Susie is into coloring big time. I like how Amy focuses on different characters in the nativity but points to Christ each time! These could easily be tweaked for family devotions, or even just playtime with the Fisher Price nativity set.
I don't currently have a structured plan for teaching Scripture memory or Christmas carols, but I've found with Susie it works well to just go with the flow. We say verses at dinnertime, before bed, in the car. . . wherever. We sing while she goes potty, cleans up toys, in the car, wherever. I want to make learning enjoyable, not burdensome for her at this point. When I was a child, we sang Christmas carols around the tree before bed, and I've done that the past couple years with Susie, so I'm planning to do so again this year. I feel like making up hand motions helps young children with memorizing -- songs, verses, etc. So we do lots of motions. My motions are pretty predictable, but if I come up with anything really fun this year, I'll try to post it here.
Pepper into all of this some family outings to see lights, special baking projects and most likely shopping for gifts! My thinking in taking Susie shopping (especially for other children) is for her to see things that look pleasing to her, and to buy them to give away to someone else. I cannot give her a heart that is not prone to selfishness, but I can try to foster a love for giving. In the past, we have shopped for a child Susie's age from the Angel tree or elsewhere, and if our finances allow, I hope to do that again this year. I want her to pick out gifts for others that we won't even be able to enjoy seeing them open, and certainly won't be able to play with herself. :)
Anybody out there do a Jesse Tree or celebrate Saint Nick's day? I'm thinking about both of those, but maybe not for this year. Still have time!