Sunday, November 11, 2012

Advent Calendars

It's time to start thinking about Advent Calendars.  I particularly like additive ones, where you add parts to a picture the closer you get to Christmas.

This idea came from "The Children's Year" by Stephanie Cooper, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marye Rowling.  It is discussed as a transparency so I converted it to an art project.

You add a star each day until the large star for the 24th and add the Baby Jesus on the 25th.  A great project for the kids at my school as we are a Catholic school.

You can also use this method with other winter themes.  Here you add parts to this Snowman scene as the days progress.

I'll show you the details on the snowman at the end of this post.


- wc paper or heavy sketch
- disk tempera paint in purple, white, and blue
- shiny silver/gold paper, wrapping paper works well
- template if required, here is mine
- white paper
- pencil crayons, wax crayons, or pastels to add colour to Mary
- scissors
- glue
- glitter glue, little gems, optional
- white pencil crayon, sharpie, or white gel pen

Tape down your paper to stop it from moving while painting.  Starting with pale purple in the center (white + purple) paint the paper in a circular motion.  Darken as you go to dark purple. (purple = blue).

Let dry.

Cut paper into a large oval.

Trace out or draw free hand Mary, baby Jesus, and the large star on white paper.

If you want you can use my template.

Add colour with paint, crayon, pastel.  Whatever medium you have on hand.

Embellish the large star with glitter, sequins, and gems if you wish.

Out of the gold shiny paper cut a large circle and glue on the center of your purple oval.

I used a recycled lid as my template.  This is the halo of light around Mary and the baby Jesus.

Cut out the pieces from the white paper.  Set baby Jesus and large star aside.

For Mary add glue to the back everywhere but near her hand.  You want to leave this free so you can slip baby Jesus in behind on the 25th.

Press into place.

Now you need 23 stars.  I used a punch but you could use the Cricut machine, cut them by hand, or even use sticky stars.

Now you need to number where everything will go.  It helps to lay it out.  If you don't want your students to see it finished you can add the numbers for them, once you've seen it once you can easily add the numbers.

Use white pencil crayon, gel pen or even sharpie.  They have nice silver and gold sharpies now.

Put the 23 stars, baby Jesus, and the large star in an envelope.  Each day in December glue a star into place.  On the 24th add the large star in anticipation of the birth of Jesus,  then on the 25th you can add him to Mary's arms.

You can have each child make one to take home and complete or you could do a large version for the bulletin board for the class to complete.

For the snowman you add parts to the picture as you go.

You start by painting the blue background.  Let that dry.

The first 2 days you add the snow.  I cut 2 snowbanks out of textured paper, (paper with white streamer glued to it).  You can add some glitter to make your snow sparkle.   For days 3 and 4 add the trees from painted paper.

Add the 3 snowballs for the snowman (days 5,6,7) and continue on.

Days 8, 9, 10 snowflakes
Day 11 bird in tree
Day 12 eyes
Day 13 nose
Day 14 mouth
Day 15 right arm and mitten
Day 16 left arm and mitten
Days 17,18,19 buttons
Day 20 moon
Day 21 scarf
Day 22 hat
Day 23 buckle for hat
Day 24 "Merry Christmas" sign

You get the idea.

Hope you give the advent calendar a try and I'll see you soon.


  1. Ooh, I hadn't heard of this form of advent calendar (they weren't a thing when I was growing up) and it looks really promising. Thank you for the idea! *off to drawing board*

  2. Oh Gail, this is so beautiful, what a great idea!! Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is a beautiful advent idea. I think I'm going to have a try with a Xmas tree rather than a snowman, as we have Xmas in summer here in Australia.

  4. This is a super idea and I am going to do this with my boys, thank you for sharing

  5. Thank you for the perfect advent calendar for my Sunday school class. It's religious, easy, and a lovely reminder that Jesus is the Reason.

    awesome job

  7. What a beautiful calendar with Jesus and Mary - a reminder what this season is all about. I plan to use it with my Grade 2 students. Thanks for sharing!

  8. It's a beautiful calendar with Virgen María and Jesus!!!

  9. I'm the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured this Advent calendar! You can see it here:

    Thanks for a fantastic project idea!

  10. Hi Gail!!! You're often an ispiration for me, for my job...
    I want to thank you so much for sharing your amazing project!!!
    I do this (the nativity advent calendar) with my kids at school... Wow!!!
    If you want see it, look at here:
    Thank you and many blessings ^_^

  11. Thank you so much! Love the Mary Advent Calendar as i am at a Catholic school too!