Such a great tradition for my family to share each Christmas!

How to Make The Ultimate Advent Calendar!

Growing up, my grandparents would mail us advent calendars from the UK. Customs wouldn’t allow chocolate so we got the simple paper flap ones. My grandparents were limited to what they could send us and it was a tradition, but I was always envious of my friends who got a chocolate each day counting down to Christmas or had a more elaborate one. So I wanted my son to have the most amazing Advent Calendar I could think of!!! I made it last year and at 18 months, he enjoyed sticking the decorations on the tree and playing with them. As planned, I completed the other levels of the calendar for this year, now that he’s old enough to enjoy them. Here it is, start to finish!!!

What you will need:

  • A meter of green felt.
  • 1 1/2 meters of white felt (I used a heavy felt so it wouldn’t curl up and I want it to last for years!).
  • Brown felt for the tree stump.
  • White felt for the back of the letter pieces.
  • A variety of colours of felt to make ornaments, pouches, number tags, etc.
  • Rough Velcro (you can buy this on its own by the metre at Fabricland)…enough for 48 squares.
  • Computer, printer, laminating sheets (you can get self laminating sheets at Dollarama if you don’t have access to a laminator).
  • 2 wood dowels, 1/2″ in thickness and 3 feet long
  • Sewing machine and thread matching the colours of your felt.
  • Just over 3ft of twine or rope to hang with.
  • Number stencil if you can’t draw numbers free hand.

I started with some heavy, thick white felt for the background. 3ft wide and 49″ long. I made 2 button holes on the top approximately 3 inches from the sides and 1 3/4 inches from the top (make sure they’ve aligned).

Button Holes

After sewing and cutting the button holes I folded the felt over and sewed it so there was a big enough gap to slide a dowel in. I didn’t slide the dowel in until I was finished so I could maneuver the felt in the sewing machine.

I also folded 1 1/2″ of felt at the bottom and sewed it, leaving a gap for a dowel at the bottom to prevent the advent calendar from rolling up.

From there, I drew and cut out a tree from the green felt so I knew how big to make my ornaments to all fit nicely in the Christmas tree. My tree measures approximately 30.5″ tall and 28″ wide.

From there, I did the fun part, I chose and designed my 24 felt decorations for my son to add to the tree each day leading up to Christmas. If you search for “free felt ornament pattern” in Google or Pinterest you will find 100s! Be sure to add a small square of velcro on the back of each ornament before sewing it together.

After making your ornaments, cut out 24 pieces of different coloured felt for your pouches. 4″ tall and 4 1/2″ wide. Lay your tree and pouches on the felt to see where you want to position them and sew the pouches on, obviously leaving the top open and with a bit of give so your child can put the ornaments and cards in and out with ease.

How to Make an Advent Calendar

I hand stitched my tree on because I wanted the look of big stitches (that’s true love because I hate hand sewing things!!) but you can easily use your machine to sew the stump and tree on.

Now for the numbers pieces. I used a number stencil so they would all be uniform. I traced all the numbers i needed and cut them out. Then I cut out the pieces of felt, 24 white pieces and a variety of colours. Each piece was 2 1/2″ wide and 2″ tall.

I sewed the numbers on the coloured pieces and velcro squares on the white pieces and then sewed the pieces together.

There is it, the felt part of the Advent Calendar is complete! Now for the next levels.

Scripture and Activity Cards

I wrote my own verses for each sheet with the help of some online examples but and here they are if you would like to print them! advent scripture.

Print your scriptures off and then place paper back in printer so your activities will print on opposite side of paper. Here are the Advent Activities I used that will align with the scripture.

Cut out the squares and laminate each one or place in the self laminating sheets.

The Ultimate Advent Calendar with detailed instructions and free printables

Tie the twine around one end of a dowel and slide through the top. Pull the twine through the button holes and ties it to the other end by pulling the dowel out a bit at the other end. Push the other dowel through at the bottom.

Each year, on November 30th, your child can choose where each number goes on the pouches. Match the number on the scripture sheet to each pouch number and place inside. Choose which ornament goes in which pouch (I like the star to go in 24).

Each day after that, your child can search for the correct number pouch and pull out the ornament inside and choose where to place it on the tree. Together you can read the scripture and talk about the true meaning of Christmas and then plan to do the activity on the other side together as a family. I’m am so excited to carry this tradition on with my son this year!

The Ultimate Advent Calendar with detailed instructions and free printables

If you are going to make this Ultimate Advent Calendar, make sure you give yourself enough time to make each ornament, depending on how detailed you want them, they can take some time!

Advertisements

Toddler Made Place Settings for Your Thanksgiving Feast

For the last 2 years I’ve done the same thing, a handprint of my son turned into a turkey. It’s cute, it shows the size of his hand at the time, I liked it…and so did the family! However, this year I felt I should mix it up a little or atleast up my game.

great for babies first Thanksgiving!
I definitely wanted something my 2 year old could make because I know for a fact that no one wants a craft my son “made” aka he destroyed his attempt and I sat at his little table and did children’s crafts! So it was important for me to find something that my son can and will actually make!! I also like the idea of incorporating a handprint or footprint so we can look back over the years and see how much he grew each year.

I also think it’s important to include your toddler in holidays and this is a great way to do it. When they look at the table set, they see something they know they made and contributed. Everyone can comment on them and make your child feel proud of their work.

I found quite a few ideas and my son, being the trooper that he can be, helped me make them all! I think this year we will have a different themed place card for each person!
We did a turkey adoring again but this year livened it up with rainbow feathers! turkey with rainbow feathers

A turkey footprint with actual feathers glued on!turkey with actual feathers glued on

An acorn handprint! place in an acorn or cork to add a personal touch to your Thanksgiving Dinner!

An owl handprint on a branch!
place in an acorn or cork to add a personal touch to your Thanksgiving Dinner!

A corn on the cob footprint!

A fall coloured leaf! (You can do a variety of these in different fall colours) you can do these in any fall colour!

You can use a handprint or a footprint to make a cornucopia…but unless you use stickers for your child to place for food, you’re going to have to attempt some drawing! 

Put the place cards in a pine cone or a cork with a slit in the top and you’ve got a cute and personal touch to your Thanksgiving Dinner!

Lots of Great Ideas to Encourage Fine Motor Skills while learning about Autumn!

Autumn Themed Activities for Toddlers

Last year I was really good at putting out different themed/seasonal activities for my son, but lately I’ve kind of dropped the ball. I decided to step up my game because I know my kiddo loved it before. 

SFall Themed Sensory Tableensory Table

I started with a sensory table with popcorn seeds which he’s had in the past and enjoyed but this time I spiced it up a little. I got the idea to dye the popcorn seeds fall colours off of Pinterest which turned out great! It was so easy, some popcorn seeds in a bag with a drop of hand sanitizer and food colouring! Like my last post of a sensory table, remember to put the seeds in a deep tray or container and an old sheet or shower curtain underneath because these babies can bounce and they’re not fun to clean up. This activity also works great with dyed rice! Put some tractors, toy rakes, farm animals and other fall toys and scoops in and let your child’s imagination run wild!

Talk about farming and harvesting. Practice scooping and pouring with different sized spoons and measuring cups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paint with Corn

I decided to do this activity with my son when I didn’t have any actual corn in the house but he has a toy plastic corn on the cob which we used instead. I felt this was better as corn on the cob is one of my son’s favourite foods and I was worried he might try to eat the paint covered corn. I do plan on trying it though, but I’ll be ready to grab the corn at any sign of salivating!

I put some red and yellow paint in a small container that my son can dip the corn in and I demonstrated how to roll it on he paper. He preferred stamping the corn which still had a cool puppy look.

Paint with Corn...Fall Activities

Pipe Cleaner & Button Tree

Wrap 3 brown pipe cleaners together to make a tree and give your child some large, fall coloured button or beads to put on the tree branches. Talk about the colours, how leaves change colour and fall off for winter, etc. (my son preferred the beads).

Pipe Cleaner Tree...Fine Motor Skills 

Fall Scented Playdough

There are a few recipes on Pinterest that are actually edible but I personally think that is too confusing for a child, one moment having Playdough they can eat and other times not so I personally recommend sticking to homemade, nontoxic Playdough that ain’t allowed near the mouth.

Here’s the Playdough recipe I like to use. Use fall coloured food colouring and scents, my favourites are:

  • brown with cinammon
  • Orange with pumkin pie spice (Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice) or for a gluten free option check out this recipe!
  • Red cranberry…instead of Playdough check out this recipe using cranberry sauce and cornstarch, it’s also gluten free!

Fall Play Dough...Smells like Pumpkin Pie!

Seasonal Bin

Find stuff around your house or head to the Dollar Store! Here’s what we have in our bin!

  • finger puppets
  • Halloween whistles
  • a skeleton
  • a pompom pumpkin
  • red and orange drink lids
  • jack-o-lantern pieces to use in play dough
  • an owl cookie cutter to use in play dough

Season Sensory Bin

A Week of Second Hand Smoke…What We Did to Keep Busy Indoors

I have been trapped inside for nearly a week with my son. Not only has our air been tainted by our southern and western neighbours (by no fault of their own!) to make it unsafe for my son and I to spend any significant amount of time outside, but my son has also been suffering with Roseola, a contagious fever and rash.

So here we are, we can’t go outside because of the smoke and everything indoors out of the house that is fun for my son involves other kids, which would expose them to Roseola, a contagious disease. So here I am, a responsible parent, locking my son and I inside our home, with clean air and not spreading his disease to other innocent children…I’m going stir crazy.

Being Stuck Indoors Due to Forest Fires
We went to superstore yesterday! It was so nice to get out of the house. Don’t get me wrong, I shouldn’t complain, my parents house swapped with us on Wednesday night, they stayed with our kiddo and pooches while we had a night out on the town…dinner and the Lion King, ending it off at their condo so we could sleep in…parents/grandparents of the year!  So technically I can’t complain because I did get an amazing break. But I still go out with my son everyday and we usually spend hours outside so even a break in a week of being trapped in our four walls still makes us both feel a little claustrophobic.

Due to forest fires in the U.S.A.and B.C., we have had no blue sky, no visibility and no quality of air since last weekend. When we go outside, it smells like we’re around a bonfire, only there’s no marshmallows. My poor kiddo doesn’t understand and just wants to play in his sandbox for countless hours.

Days can be long when you can't go out, here are some ideas to help you through them!
So here’s what we’ve been doing to keep busy while we’re trapped indoors (and some other great ideas too!):

  1. Play with Playdough.
  2. Paint.
  3. Build Lego block towers.
  4. Early on in the week, while stress levels are low, bring out some pots and pans and play some music!
  5. Explore new games such as Jenga and building towers or dominoe lines with them and knocking them over.
  6. Have a dance party to Raffi or your child’s favourite music.
  7. Build a Fort out of blankets.
  8. Read Books.
  9. Get some pipecleaners and a milk crate or clothes basket and make a game out of working on your child’s fine motor skills!
  10. Cook.
  11. Have a PhotoShoot and get some fun, recent shots of your kiddos!
  12. Bake.
  13. Get an old Box and make a Box Fort and decorate it.
  14. Make a car track with painter’s tape on your floor.
  15. Make your own Water Table.
  16. Play Dress Up! …old Halloween Costumes, Hats, Scarves, etc.
  17. Put down your To Do List and take advantage of the opportunity to spend quality time with your kiddo(s)!
  18. Do a Puzzle.
  19. Crafts…I let my son use my dull, squiggly craft scissors, he loves stamping, there are endless craft ideas on Pinterest!
  20. Create your own Sensory Table for your child to explore.
  21. Do some housework…and get the kids involved!
  22. Watch a movie.
  23. If your child is healthy and you’ve been considering potty training, a week when you’re stuck in the house is the best time to do it!

Now those of you who know me or regularly read this blog, know I never suggest t.v. for young kid does but at the beginning of the week when my son was feverish and lethargic, we watched a movie and cuddled on the couch, because that’s what we do when we’re sick.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you can make the best of being stuck in the house, whatever the reason!

30 FREE things to do in and around Calgary

30 FREE Things to Do with Your Kiddos In & Around Calgary

30 FREE Things to Do IN & AROUND CALGARY!
Summer is almost over, we’ve been lucky to have some great weather but there’s still a few weeks left before you send the kiddos back to Daycare, Preschool or School. Here are some great things you can do in or around Calgary, Alberta that won’t cost you a thing!

  1. Spend a morning at a Playground…there are SO many around the city, branch out from your local one!
  2. Cool off in a Splash Park…you don’t have to be a community members for a number of them such as Okotoks, Valleyview Regional Park, etc.
  3. Take a short drive south to the Saskatoon Farm…there is a nice short walk looking over the valley, you can walk around the grounds and check out all the different plants and there’s a small farm where the kids can watch the chickens, turkeys, rabbits and pig.
  4. Drive out to the mountains and go on a child friendly hike in the Rockies.
  5. SouthCentre Mall’s new ROAR Play Park.
  6. Go for a walk or bike ride in Fish Creek Park.
  7. Pack a picnic and head to Edward H. Laborde Airplane Watching Area or Prairie Winds Park to watch the planes land and take off near the airport.
  8. Head downtown to the Devonian Gardens…listen to a talented musician playing the grand piano, watch the fish or play on the indoor playground.
  9. Take a free ride on the CTrain in the FreeZone downtown.
  10. Go for a swim at Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Park.
  11. Check out the stables at Spruce Meadows.
  12. Go to Canada Olympic Park…sit in the Jamaican bobsled and watch a real bobsled go down the track starting at 1pm.
  13. Register for a free tour of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.
  14. Go for a walk through Nose Hill Park.
  15. Watch a 45 minute demonstration at the R.C.M.P. Dog Training Centre every Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. (Location: Take Exit 365 off Hwy 2 at Innisfail, travel east and follow the signs.)
  16. Check out Readers Rock Garden.
  17. Register at http://www.kidsbowlfree.com for 2 free bowling games for your kiddos!
  18. If you have your own rod (with a barbless hook) you can catch and release trout at Bow Habitat Station Trout Pond. $5 to rent a rod.
  19. Take advantage of the free workshops offered at local hardware stores such Home Depot or Lowes.
  20. Drive out to the Big Rock just south of Okotoks and explore this erratic that gave Okotoks it’s name.
  21. Head down to Chinook Honey Farm…parents sample some mead and the cute gift shop while the kids explore the hive and search for the queen bee.
  22. Go for a swim in the Bow at Sandy Beach.
  23. Walk around a pet store and see all the different animals.
  24. Explore Princes Island.
  25. Pack a picnic and check out some of the amazing parks that Calgary has to offer.
  26. Splash around in one of Calgary’s wading pools.
  27. Spend some time at Edworthy Park, Shillington Crescent Park or Lions Park playing on the playgrounds and watching the trains that routinely pass by.
  28. Visit a library and read some new books or take advantage of the free programs that they offer.
  29. Check out the cool trains and learn about Canada’s grain industry at the Grain Academy & Museum.
  30. Spend a morning in North Glenmore Park and watch the variety of boats on the reservoir or take a walk (partially) around the reservoir.

Toddler Lessons…Making the Most of Their “Spongy Period”: Gardening

You may remember the post from April in which I introduced my son to gardening. I laid out an old shower curtain on the floor of our basement with all of our gardening things and demonstrated how to carefully scoop some soil out of the bag and dump it into each pot. Together, we planted the seeds, covered them with soil and watered them. 

During the process, I explained to my son that plants need soil, nutrients, water and sunshine to grow. We placed the pots by a window and I told my son I would need his help to water the plants each day to help them grow and give us food to eat.

As the months have passed and our plants have been transplanted into a garden, my son still helps me pick vegetables to use for our meals, helps me run out before a storm comes to protect them and assists with daily care such as watering and weeding around the yard. He’s learning responsibility and teamwork. He is literally tasting the fruits of his labour.

There is so much to do with gardening whether you have a large property with lots of outside plants or a few pots of herbs in your home, you can always teach your child about gardening and how things grow.

During the summer months you can get cheap, child sized watering cans that you can fill up for your child to help you water plants or even convert a small plastic milk jug into a watering can by poking holes through the lid. With close supervision, your child can help you water inside plants and herbs or you can allow them more independence for outside plants where it doesn’t matter if they spill some water on the ground. If your plants are important to you, make sure you are always close as I have left my son to watering our plants on the deck and have come back to him driving tractors through my pots!!!!

  

  Here are some activities you can do to Teach your Toddler About Gardening:

  • Plant some seeds.
  • Weed your Garden or Yard.
  • Water Plants.
  • Go for a walk and pick some Wild Flowers to put in a vase.
  • Place a celery or romaine lettuce stem is some water and watch it grow.
  • Paint some rocks to put it pots or a garden (note: you will have to choose between washable paint/markers that won’t withstand rain or permanent that won’t wash off your child easy!)
  • Plant Grass in a cup with a smiley face and your toddler can help you give it a hair cut!
  • Buy a Chia Plant.
  • Print off some pictures of flowers or a garden for your child to colour.
  • Go for a walk and find flowers, smell them, explain how somebody planted seeds and the sun and rain helps them grow.

There are so many activities you can do with your young child to introduce them to the concept of gardening, have fun and teach your child how to make things grow and respect our earth!

Toddler Lessons…Making the Most of their “Spongy Period”: the farm

My son’s first word was tractor, he loves them. We’re fortunate to live in the country and be surrounded by them and my son loves to watch them working in the fields and wave as they go by.

It started that everything was a tractor and it gradually expanded to more specific types such as a digger, grater, bulldozer. With them all working in the fields haying, we decided to expand it even further.


When we drive into town my son now points out the Canola fields and the farmer’s fields. We’ve been talking about bailers and how they cut the grass and take hay bails out of it for the horses to eat.

As well as the tractor side of farming, we’ve also been talking about animals. My son already know his farm animals and the sounds they make but we went to a little farm last week and I had to drag him away from watching the animals. He was fascinated with the turkey and whether it would jump down because we were talking about how they can’t fly…it never got down. We watched the chickens eat seeds and the pig mainly lie around and sleep. I had wanted to take him to a petting zoo which I know he will love but our week was too busy to fit it it, we will definitely be going in the next few weeks though.

We’ve read books about farm animals, baby farm animals and life on a farm. We’ve played with his Farm Animal Finger Puppets, singing Old MacDonald and making all their noises. We’ve played with his toy tractors, digging dirt, taking the animals for rides and cutting the grass. He has a farm animal shape sorter which isn’t good as a shape sorter because you can fit the animals in most holes if you turn them but it’s still lots of fun to have a barn and all the animals.

Like most Toddler Lesson Plans and Activities, I kept these very informal by having a theme to our activities for the week and always being mindful of bringing it up when the opportunity presented itself.

Here are some great activities you can do with your child, depending on their interests.

  • Print off the Farm Animal Colouring Sheets of the Farm Animal Finger Puppets sold in my Etsy Shop located at the bottom of this post.
  • Drive out in the country past fields and talk about what’s growing in them or read a book about it.
  • Visit a farm…there are some great farms open to the public, try to find a petting zoo!
  • Sing Old MacDonald had a Farm.
  • Read books about farms, tractors and farm animals, your local library will have a great variety!
  • Play with stuffed animals, Finger Puppets or any farm like toys your child has.
  • Watch a video, such as Baby Einstein – A Day on the Farm
  • Do a craft for a Farm Animal…there are lots of ideas on Pinterest.

Have fun! Take advantage of your child’s eagerness to learn while spending quality time with them too!

Free Printable

Free Printable

Free Printable

Free Printable