Building an awesome Advent calendar

Monday, November 27, 2023

As early childhood educators, nurturing children’s curiosity and creativity is always front of mind. With the festive period upon us, this is the perfect time to learn how to build an awesome Advent calendar.

As with many events on the cultural calendar, Christmas has a range of traditions you can explore. One that can be a great way to get crafty in early childhood setting is Advent. This is a celebration that not only marks the countdown to Christmas but also offers lots of opportunities for engaging activities and meaningful connections.


Advent Calendar


Unwrapping tradition: The origins of Advent

Advent dates back to the 5th century and the word itself comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ which means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’. As with much of Christmas traditionally, the roots of Advent are in the Christian faith and centre around the anticipation of the birth of Jesus.

While traditionally observed in Christian communities, Advent has become a widespread approach to counting down to Christmas — and having some activities or treats along the way!

Advent calendars are everywhere this time of year, but they have their origins in 19th century Germany. These calendars typically consist of 24 doors or windows, each concealing a small surprise or treat. For educators and families these build plenty of excitement for children to open each day as we get closer to Christmas Day.

Christmas DIY: Crafting Your Advent Calendar

For early childhood educators, this time of year brings with it countless craft activities, so why not tie them all together with a DIY Advent calendar.

The best thing — when it comes to Advent calendars, the options are endless! Each room at your service might like to do their own to align with their developmental stages and unique explorations throughout the year.

Here are a couple of ideas to inspire you:

Cardboard advent calendar

Start with a large piece of cardboard and decorate it as is. Alternatively, you could cut it into a large, visually appealing shape (such as a tree or star). Children can collaborate to get the base looking great.

Next, get 24 small cards or envelopes and number the envelopes or pouches from 1 to 24.

Attach the envelopes to the calendar using strong tape, pins, or staples and find a place to hang the calendar in your room.

Odd sock calendar

This one is different and lots of fun.

Encourage families to bring in a clean odd sock if they can — you’ll need 24 per calendar. You can use them as they are or you might like to get fabric markers or paint to decorate them to look like little Christmas stockings. You can write the numbers 1 – 24 on each one, or you can add a square of paper next to each one with its number for the countdown.

Next you’ll need 24 pegs and a piece of string. Attach the socks with the pegs and tie the string up somewhere in your room!

Adding the activities to your Advent calendar

Now comes the heart of the Advent calendar — filling it with engaging activities that captivate the imagination of children! Each day can bring a new activity or adventure, which can give children a sense of shared excitement throughout the countdown.

Here are some ideas to get you started — ideally a combination of them all keeps it engaging:

Storytime surprises: Select a holiday-themed book or story for each day so the calendar indicates which story will be read. Make it inclusive by including stories that cover the many different ways people celebrate this time of year.

Creative crafts: This time of year is all about craft. From building Santa out of toilet rolls, to Christmas cards for family, each day of the Advent countdown can be a new activity. Here are some eco-friendly ideas to add.

Joyful jingles: Christmas carols and musical activities feel very festive, and are perfect to include in your calendar.

Acts of kindness: Why not include actions that foster kindness in your early learning environment too? It could be doing something kind for themselves, the environment, or for a peer.


diy advent calendar


Sharing in a time of togetherness

Come together to create and enjoy something special together! Embracing Advent in early childhood education can be perfect for cultivating a sense of wonder and joy this time of year.

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