Now that school is underway, I finally had a chance to gather all my Advent 2012 posts and information in one place for the blog. Perhaps you can find some inspiration here for your own Advent plans for this year.
The kids made Advent rings to count down the days at story hour and I convinced them to leave them up as decorations for the month. They made our kitchen a bit more festive. We won't be going to story hour this year, so perhaps we'll make our own in pink and purple.
I cut back quite a bit on our regular classes during Advent and the Christmas season. Oh, we still do math and spelling and enough to keep us reasonably busy, but I like to give myself a bit of breathing room so I can spend an afternoon making Christmas cookies without yelling at the children the whole time. (Though last year, I didn't get to the cut-out cookies so Kansas Dad made them with the children. They were delicious.)
1. Our Annual Ornament - We made Christmas tree ornaments this year. I've been collecting matchboxes for over a year now, so maybe we'll find something to make this year that will use those.
2. Our Magnet Nativity and Advent wreath - I put the little pieces of this Nativity set in my set of Christmas drawers. Each day the children take turns opening the drawer and putting up the day's magnet. I bought our magnet nativity set years ago at a local Christian bookstore and am afraid it might not be up to the task next year. Every year we seem to lose one or two under the fridge or freezer or somewhere. I'm pretty sure it's this Fontanini Nativity Magnet Advent Calendar, but I know I didn't pay that much. The magnet nativity has been a big favorite around here, so I might need to replace it if we lose too many pieces. I was very happy to use my "new" Advent wreath for a second year.
3. Our Advent Activity Chain Calendar - I purchased this from a friend of mine who bought a bunch and sold them as a fundraiser for a local convent. It's a nice little series of activities, most simple and reasonable for a family of little ones. The year before last year, we had activities I planned in advance and put on a slip of paper in my Christmas drawers. This year (2012) was a good year for me to use a prepared set like this one. I think it was from Autom. It's not on their website anymore, probably because it was designed specifically for Advent 2012.
I think next year, I'd like to do something a little differently. I think I might make a list of activities (bake cookies, drive to a friend's house and sing Christmas carols, drink hot chocolate, and other things). If I planned ahead on days we'd have time for a special activity, they could choose themselves what they'd like to do.
4. Advent Reading
For the second time, thanks to the advice of the Mater Amabilis site, we read through The Life of Mary and The Way to Bethlehem by Inos Biffi, illustrated by Franco Vignazia. I love the illustrations in these books. We read them slowly, spreading them out over all of Advent with only four or six pages a day. As a note to concerned parents, there is a page for the Holy Innocents which always seems a little violent to me. It doesn't seem to bother the children too much, but I never finish a day on one of the sad pages. We've read these the last two years, so in 2013, I'm planning to read Stations of the Nativity with the girls instead. First Son will be reading Stories of the Child Jesus from Many Lands independently (recommended by Mater Amabilis for Level 2).
We also set our regular poetry book aside and read Advent and Christmas poetry instead. I like Bright Star Shining: Poems for Christmas but we've also read from The Oxford Treasury of Christmas Poems. I've recently picked up a few other Christmas anthologies, so I may choose from them in 2013.
I already wrote a post on our family read-alouds for Advent and a few I hope to read next year.
5. Jesse Tree - This year I finally made a Jesse Tree for our family. You can read about it here.
6. Advent Picture Book a Day - As in past years, we read a picture book a day during Advent. I posted earlier about the new books we read and the one we enjoyed the most. This post includes links to all my Advent picture books from past years as well.
7. O Antiphons - As in years past, we used the beautiful O Antiphons created by Jennifer Gregory Miller.
8. Advent Music
For the 2012-2013 school year, I invested in Making Music Praying Twice for my little ones. You can read more about it and my review here. One of the things I loved about having it was the seamless and easy transition to seasonal music. When Advent started, we switched to the new CD and book. Each of the plans for the season included an option for Advent and a Christmas song for Christmas season.
I know some households exclude all Christmas music until Christmas proper, but since we are often traveling then and less likely to spend time quietly listening to music, we still listen to Christmas songs during Advent. However, I decided we'd only listen to Advent music during our school days. I searched high and low on the Internet for lists of Advent songs, as
opposed to Christmas ones.
A friend introduced me to Spotify and it has been a wonderful addition to our homeschool (though I highly recommend subscribing to avoid commercials which are sometimes horribly inappropriate for children; I don't get anything if you sign up). I searched on Spotify for all the songs on my list and created a playlist for Advent. I think if I know you in real life and you use Spotify, I can share my playlist with you, but here's a list of the songs for anyone to peruse. (These are in alphabetical order by album. It helps to group the Latin hymns and the chants together. I have also removed some duplicates here; if I liked more than one version of the same song, I added it more than once.)
The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
The Lips of John
Lo He Comes with Clouds Descending
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Savior of the Nations, Come
Advent Suite: Stand Still and Wait / Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
On Jordan's Bank
A Child Shall Lead
Benedictus qui venit
The Seven Joys of Mary
Maria Walks Amid the Thorn
O Christmas Tree
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Come, Divine Messiah
Dominica primus Adventus ad Vesperas
Rorare Coeli De Super
Offertorium: Ave Maria
Communio: Gloriosa Dicta Sunt
Marianische Antiphon Im Advent: Alma Redemptoris
O Radix Jesse
O Clavis David
O Rex Gentium
Hymnus: Creator Alme Siderum
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Veni Veni Emmanuel
In the Stillness
On Jordan's Bank
Plainchant: Ave Maria
Cornysh: Ave Maria, mater Dei
Monteverdi: Stabat virgo Maria
Monteverdi: Maria, quid ploras
Titov: The angel cried out
Victoria: Regina caeli laetare
Victoria: Alma Redemptoris Mater
Anon: Plainchant: Ave maria stella
Titov: O thou joy of all the sorrowful
Palestrina: Ave regina caelorum
Josquin: Ave Maria a 6
Desprez: Salve Regina
Holy Is His Name
People, Look East
Venez, Divin Messie / O Come Divine Messiah
Coventry Carol / O Come, O Come Emmanuel
The People that Walked in Darkness
A Virgin Unspotted
Savior of the Nations, Come
Often, as I searched for titles, I would add whole albums and then thin the songs we did not enjoy or that were not specifically for Advent. If you know of other songs, please let me know, because I intend to use the same playlist next year and can add to it.
9. Feast Days - Of course, we celebrated many of the December and Christmas feast days. Our children love St. Nicholas's feast day. I bought one of the St. Nicholas cookie cutters last year and used them to make really big cookies the girls decorated with some of their friends. We also celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, First Son's birthday, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (enchiladas, of course), the feast of St. Lucy (I think we had cinnamon rolls), Kansas Dad's birthday, First Son's baptismal anniversary, Mary the Mother of God, and Epiphany. (I like to give the children each a small faith-related gift on Epiphany, usually a book or CD.) That's not counting Christmas!
You can find everything I've posted related to Advent and Christmas with the "Advent and Christmas" label. I also have a Pinterest board where you can see whatever has peaked my interest online.