From My Notebook


Location, Location, Location

I’m taking a break from Advent and Christmas to share this fun idea from my notebook. Use a set of measuring spoons to show the relationship between geographical concepts. Label the smallest spoon with your address, the next smallest with your city, then your state, your country, continent, and so on. The smaller spoons rest in the larger spoons, showing how they’re all related!

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Wood Block Nativity

SUPPLIES: Wood blocks cut from two-by-fours, from 5″ to 10″, felt scraps, beads, ribbon, glitter, etc, and craft glue.

Decide what figures you want in your Nativity scene and cut a block for each figure. Sand the blocks well, especially if little ones are going to be playing with them. Round the corners for safety as well.

In addition to Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus, you may want Wise Men, shepherds, sheep, an angel, and other animals. Copy simple drawings and cut the shapes from felt. Glue to the appropriate block. You can layer the felt or add the other materials for details.


Nose So Bright
This is a silly project, but fun!

On black paper, let your child sponge paint to his heart’s content with white paint. When it’s all done, glue on a red pom-pom– Rudolph’s nose!


A Family Advent Calendar

Make a large calendar grid on a piece of poster board (blue or rose for Advent is nice!). Be sure to leave the squares big enough to write your plans for each day! Plan your Advent season together, writing down special dates, get-togethers, parties, family outings, deadlines, saints’ days, etc. Add pictures to represent different activities. We like to draw 4 little candles in each Sunday box, with one lit the first Sunday, two the second, etc.

Hang in a place where you all can see it, and mark off the days until Christmas.


Snow-Covered Snack Mix
This easy peasy idea is a yummy winter snack. Just mix together yogurt-covered raisins and yogurt-covered pretzels. My kids like to put them in a brown paper baggie and shake them up themselves.


The Empty Manger
Give each child a smallish cardboard box (alternately, you can all work together to fill one “manger”). Decorate it if you wish. Each time a child does a good turn or a kind deed, they can add a piece of straw (even cut up yellow construction paper works!) to the manger. The goal is to make a soft, snug manger bed for Baby Jesus! After the children are asleep on Christmas Eve, add a sweet little Infant Jesus to the bed.

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Surprise Stocking
The time leading up to Christmas can get a little hectic. One thing I like to do is to write extra treats and surprises on slips of paper and keep them in a small stocking. When we have some extra time or have had an extra great day or just need to reconnect, we pull out a “stocking surprise” and do what the paper says. It can range from making cookies to watching a holiday movie to going for a walk and counting Christmas lights.

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A Hand-y Santa Banner
These are cute grandparent gifts, or they look sweet hanging on a door.

You will need red, skin-colored, and white paint. Paint your child’s fingers white, palm skin-colored, and the part closest to the wrist and the thumb red. Then have your child press her hand onto the center of a dark green square of felt. After it dries, add blue fingerprint eyes and a red fingerprint nose to Santa’s face, as well as fingerprint snowflakes around the Santa. Don’t forget a fingerprint white pom pom at the end of the thumb “hat”!

You can add a ribbon for hanging and use fabric paint to write a message or your child’s name and the year on your banner.

The Giant and the Gnome
There walked a giant big and bold
Whose feet were getting very cold.
He came long to our town
And walked the streets all up and down
Calling, “Is no one hearing me?
My toes are freezing bitterly!
No single shop that I could tell
Has stockings giant-sized to sell.”

A little gnome both old and wise,
He gave him very good advice.
He brought two pretty bits of stuff.
The giant thought them good enough.
He wrapped him feet, his pain was eased,
And home he walked, content and pleased.