How to Make a Christ-Centered Advent Calendar

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Are you looking for an alternative to a candy-filled Advent calendar? Are you looking for a way to remember to true meaning of Christmas throughout the month of December? Yes? You’ve come to the right spot!

I’ve seen religious Advent calendars with a Bible verse each day, but my kids are too little to read. I came up with this idea to prepare the bed for Jesus’ birth by putting one piece of hay in the bed each day. On Christmas, Jesus will have a nice plush bed of hay!

Even the littlest hearts can prepare for Jesus with this Christ centered Advent calendar.

I found the Advent calendar in the Dollar Spot at Target for $3. Here’s a garland or a tree that would also work for this project.

I picked up all of the other supplies from Walmart, including: doll with bathtub, raffia, and spray paint. Unfortunately, the doll and tub is only available in stores. If I can find a similar product, I’ll come back and update the post. This particular doll is great because the clothes come completely off and it is just a plain baby. It is also a great size (5 inches). I used a plain baby washcloth as the swaddle. For the cradle, I removed the faucet from the tub and spray painted the tub gold. It makes the perfect bed for baby Jesus!

I cut small pieces of raffia (about 5-6 inches each) and tucked one piece in each pocket on the Advent calendar.

Each day, add a piece of hay to the cradle. It is a physical reminder that Advent is about preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ. On Christmas morning, add the swaddled baby Jesus!

Happy Advent!

Thanksgiving Conversation Cards – Free Printable

My 3-year old is really into family dinners. He loves to play games and have discussions. I love it too. A lot of quality time is spent at the dinner table. I’ve created a bunch of conversation starters for us – and I’ll have more coming to the blog soon. I managed to get this free printable ready just in time for Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving-conversation-starter-free-printable

As you share meals with friends and family this year, try out these Thanksgiving conversation cards. Instead of going around the table stating what you are thankful for (boring!), try these cards. They’ll get you talking about what you’re thankful for and how you can show your gratitude.

Download your Thanksgiving conversation cards by clicking the image below.
thanksgiving-free-printable

I took the pdf to my local Kinkos and had the file printed on cardstock. Then I just cut the cards out with scissors. Conversation cards are great for any age and any group of people. You can do one card per night, or do them all at once.

Happy Thanksgiving!

4 Ways to Use Story Cubes With Young Children

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Story Cubes are great for ice-breakers, family gatherings, small or large groups, and for players of all ages.

With my adult family members, we play by rolling a die and telling a personal story based on the image rolled. Last time we played we learned that my father was really into abacuses from childhood to young adulthood, and that my husband brought whole frozen fish to biology class for dissection in junior high (which the teacher did not ask for!).

We adapt the game a bit to play with our three year old. Here are four ways to use Story Cubes with a preschooler.

  1. Roll one cube and name the object facing up. What letter (or letter sound for beginners) does it start with? To extend the game, you can go around the table naming other things that start with the same letter or sound.
  2. Roll one cube and make a statement inspired by the image. As your preschooler gets the hang of the game, you can roll multiple cubes in one turn and make a statement or story including all of the images. Our three year old is surprisingly good at this one!
  3. Roll all of the cubes and create categories (e.g. living things, things that go, small things, big things, things in the house, things outside).
  4. Roll all of the cubes and study the pictures for 30 seconds. One person removes one cube while all the other players close their eyes. Players must open their eyes and identify the missing cube.

If the conversation goes off on a tangent, let it! The important thing is to take turns, get creative, listen to one another, and have fun!

We’ve got the original Story Cubes, but these other packs (enchanted, actions, and prehistoria) will definitely be on my Christmas wish list.

What You’ll Need

Various Story Cube Sets

Our Favorite Books – with picks from Mom, Dad, and Child

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We’ve accumulated quite a few books over the past three years, but we seem to read the same ones over and over! Here’s a quick list of some of our favorites.

Mom’s Favorite: The Goodnight Train by June Sobel with illustrations by Laura Huliska-Beith. The flow of the words make this book fun for me to read.

Dad’s Favorite: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown with illustrations by Clement Hurd – a classic.

Favorite at Age 1: How Big Is a Pig by Clare Beaton with illustrations by Stella Blackstone. Great for learning animal sounds and opposites.

Favorite at Age 2: Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree by Eileen Christelow. Get the board book so you can SNAP the book closed when the alligator comes.

Favorite at Age 3: First Look and Find Books. We have Mickey, Dora, Frozen, and more!

Other Favorites:

I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom is a simple story about the seasons with illustrations by Richard Scary that make me nostalgic.

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson with illustrations by Jane Chapman has wonderful rhythm and rhyme – almost like a song.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle with illustrations by Jill McElmurry. This whole series is a winner.

Do you have any favorites I didn’t list?