I love a good craft…but even better is when I can create something AND save money.
No1 really gets Christmas this year. She keeps asking how many days and we keep referring her to the calendar, but at 3, a seven day chart isn’t exactly age-appropriate. Also? I’m tired of repeating myself. So tired.
So I scoured the internet (and etsy) for a toddler-friendly advent calendar for daily activities. There are some adorable choices out there…but I just couldn’t stomach spending any more money this month. We’ve drained our Christmas budget. And then it came to me, while vegging out on the couch. Paper. Chain.
It’s linear (teacher-talk for less confusing as a calendar), easy to make, and I already had everything I needed to whip one up.
- Construction Paper in Red and Green (or whatever colors you like – two colors helps make it an easy visual)
- Tacky Glue (or a stapler, but I don’t trust my toddler to not pull out and eat the staples)
- Your Calendar
- Scotch Tape
- Scissors (I used a paper-trimmer and it saved me tons of time, but scissors work just as well)
- Cut construction paper into strips. You’ll need 12 of each color. I made mine 1 1/2 inches by 10 inches.
- On one side of each strip, write the date and how many days left until Christmas. Makes for a good teachable math moment each time your child takes a strip off (depending on your child’s age):
- “We had 24 days yesterday and we took off one ring. How many days do you think we will have now? Why?”
- “Let’s go to the calendar and see where today is. Let’s count the days and see if the strip is right.”
- “Is the chain shorter or longer than yesterday?”
- “What color will we take off tomorrow? How do you know?”
- On the other side of each strip, write an activity for the day. I used my calendar to pick babysitter days for crafts so I would have some extra help, and to plan simple activities on days I work or anticipate being busy. Some sample activities from my calendar:
- take a bubble bath
- make a snowman craft ($1 at AC Moore)
- spend the whole day in pajamas
- take toy donations to the fire station
- mail Christmas cards
- make a gingerbread house (scheduled this one at Mimi’s house)
- bake cookies
- make handprint reindeer
- go to the library and pick out holiday books
- dance to Christmas music
- paint toenails red and green
- If you need more ideas – just google “advent calendar kids’ activities”. There are tons of great ideas out there.
- At this point, I wrote each advent activity on my calendar…because otherwise I knew I would forget about a craft or special activity and be caught unaware. You could also just make a list and hide it somewhere for your reference.
- Loop each strip through the next, being sure you’ve got them in order. The dates will go on the outside of each ring, with the activities hidden inside. Secure strips with glue, staples, or tape. Your choice.
- Make a Christmas Day poster for the 24th loop to attach to
- Tape the 24th loop to the poster and hang! I hung ours where I could easily put the chain out of reach for playdates.
No1 loves ripping off the day’s loop, seeing how many days are left, pointing out that there are less days and that Christmas is at the top…and then bringing me the strip to see what the activity is! I love that it gives her some special time each day, especially since I’ve been feeling so fatigued and we’re overwhelmed with baby preparations. None of the activities are too involved – simple things mean so much to young children. Keep it simple and fun.
You could easily adapt this for any holiday or to countdown to a special event like the last day of school…a child’s birthday (a week-long countdown would make any kiddo feel really special)…an upcoming trip (oh! Activities about the destination! Coloring a map…making food from the area…read stories set in the local). The possibilities are endless!