Poor Peanut...she has to make do a lot of times during our school hours. She is by no means ignored or neglected, but I don't have the ability to do all I would like with her many mornings. The girls are great about playing with her, letting her sit in their laps while they work math problems, taking a dance break with her. And I get to sit down and talk with her or read some books with her. But some days I want to do more with her!
Today I finally pulled out a couple of things I had put together for Peanut, and she had the best time with them!
The first was just my Thirty-One Gifts littles carry-all caddy filled with colorful pom poms. I was going to have her practice her fine motor skills with a clothespin, but the wooden one was too hard for her. Might try to get my hands on a plastic one. So we dumped all the pom poms out and worked on sorting. Then I had her choose a color when they were all mixed up again, and she had to put all the pom poms of that color in the caddy before she moved onto the next color. She loved it and worked on it for a very long time, over and over. :)
The next activity is one she went crazy over. She had such a good time with it, and we were able to do a lot of different things with it.
I have a small bin with some Christmas-y colors and items in it--pom poms, mini foil gift bows, and some little mini lights (like you might scatter on your table for decoration or something).
There are 5 colors of Christmas lights and they each have a match, so the first thing I had her do was pick one out and then dig around for its match. She also was able to sort colors with the pom poms and bows.
The different looks of things, some fuzzy, some shiny, really adds to the learning process and the fun.
And let's face it, it is just fun to dig your hands into something and squeeze and touch everything!
We talked about what felt rough, smooth, and soft.
Later in the morning, Peanut asked to play with "Christmas" again!
If I can do this intentionally with her at least once a week, I will be one happy mama.
I often say I have no original ideas and like to just copy those who have already worked hard on their own ideas. So I have to give credit to a sweet mom that spoke to us at MOPS, my friend Heather, Pinterest and so many mommy bloggers for giving me a variety of creative and fun learning ideas that I can take and make my own.
In our home, we do what I call "serious Advent" and "fun Advent" activities. Don't let the labels fool you--the kids look forward to both!
For the past 4-5 years, I have tried to incorporate some fun into our countdown to Christmas days. We are usually still working on school for at least the first couple of weeks in December, and so I like to try to work in some more enjoyable things along the way.
That wooden Advent calendar sits on our mantle every year. I usually slip a small folded piece of paper behind the door for each day telling the girls what our fun thing is going to be. I have to do this each day because let's face it, kids are snoopy and they would otherwise look ahead! Let me also give you this disclaimer: We do not have something behind the door each day. And some days I just throw a few pieces of candy in there (that they get to eat whether it's behind the door or not, but it's the thought that counts, right??). I also try to make many of the days free or super cheap. It can get crazy and who can pay for all that, amen?
This year I found those cute little number cards that I printed out and laminated. You can download them HERE. If you are looking for ideas for activities, there are several out there but HERE is one that has printable cards with the activities on them. I just use a dry erase marker to write on the back of them, making them reusable!
So just a sampling of what we have done so far...
Day 1...Christmas socks (the $1 variety)
Day 2...red toenails
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri "Wined Up", in case you wanted to know!
I have nothing figured out beyond today. See? No worries, no pressure. If I figure something out that works, we do it. If not, well there is a day that we just got to be our usual awesome selves. :)
As for our "serious Advent" activities, there are two things we are doing this year. And they won't get done everyday either, I can already tell you that. It is just life!
First, in the evenings when we are all home together, we have our Advent wreath that sits on our Christmas table along with our devotional. We got it several years ago and it is written by Pastor David Horner at Providence Baptist Church. Titled "The Heart of Christmas: More Devotions for Advent", it gives a scripture reading for each day along with the devotion. There is usually a thought-provoking question at the end of the reading. This booklet is dated 2005, so the girls were much younger when we started reading from it. There were many words and concepts we would have to stop and explain to them. But it is really neat through the years to see their understanding increase.
As for a scriptural Advent activity I can do with my girls during the day, I have chosen to do Jesse tree ornaments (which in almost 14 Christmas seasons I have never done) and also the Jesus Storybook Bible.
The Jesus Storybook Bible is on sale for $10 at Lifeway right now. Out of all the children's Bibles we have here (and we have a ton of them), this is one we did not have. Friends have raved about it, and I thought we'd give it a chance. You can go HERE to see and print off the Advent reading plan using this book.
HERE is a PDF of the Jesse tree activity. It explains what it is, its purpose, and it also gives you the little squares to print off and color for each day along with the daily scripture readings. I have not yet decided where I will place 25 ornaments times four kids, but I am thinking that is a good problem to have. :)
Whatever you do, you should own it and not the other way around. It should be fun and bring you joy. If it stresses you out or you do not have the time or energy for it, LET.IT.GO. As you learned, this is the first year I have had any desire whatsoever to do the Jesse tree ornaments. And I am okay with that. Everyone else will always be doing something, you choose what fits your family for each year. That is the beauty of it!
However you celebrate Advent, make it simple, make it memorable, and keep it focused on Jesus (and not the pretty printables, laminating machines, crafts, and other bells and whistles!). Lower your expectations of the Season, and I guarantee you will enjoy it and even look forward to it next year.
I am just a regular gal. Married to my most handsome, smart, and talented Honey of 16 years. Stay-at-home and homeschooling mama of four beautiful, funny, and spunky daughters. Trying to stay sane and find joy in this wonderful life the Lord has graciously given me!