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Christmas fake-Danish-hearts

This post has been linked to learning cooperative ABC&123 – check them out!

This is a close-up of our Advent calendar. These are “real” Danish hearts. You can find a tutorial for making them here or by Googling “Danish heart baskets”. They’re fun to do if you’re old enough, but no good for our five-year old. Also they’re much easier with paper than with felt – I know because we tried felt last year. But here’s what I’m talking about today:

This is our Advent “wreath”. Cute, and much easier! We got ours from Ikea, full of tea-lights. Now the tea-lights are hidden it looks much better.

Here’s what you need. Well some of what you need. Old wrapping paper or craft paper in various colours – we used both. Scissors, pencil, ruler, template…

You can use the template for making real Danish hearts too – click on the picture if you want a better look. To make the template, we used the bottom of a wine glass and then extended the sides till they were the same length as the diameter of the wineglass (you can see I’ve marked the identical lengths “A”). To make our decoration we needed to cut out four hearts from plain paper (any colour would do) because I wasn’t sure about Froglet gluing stuff directly onto the backdrop. And for some reason I started drawing six. Never mind eh.

Don’t worry about that little mark on the template where it says “plus a bit”- that’s not relevant here. It just shows to make the cuts a bit longer so it’s easier to weave the strips together on a real heart basket.

Here I’m cutting out the template from the coloured paper that we’re using to decorate our hearts. Whatever colours you like – we always used red-and-green when I was little.
Cut out the semi-circle and then divide the square into equal parts – I think sixteen would be more traditional but we chose the easy option and did nine. Froglet only cut the little squares out because I don’t really trust him with curvy lines yet for something that’s actually going to be in the middle of the table for a month! Yes I know. One day I may be less of a perfectionist.

Glue your cut-out paper onto the plain paper heart, making sure your child knows to alternate the colours like a chess-board. Then stick your heart onto whatever you’re using it for, if you didn’t do that directly. I glued ours on a piece of gold wrapping paper cut to more-or-less fit around the inside of the Ikea candle vase…

Turns out I didn’t measure that carefully enough and the vase is wider at the top than the bottom so it doesn’t sit quite flat. But at least my semi-circles are well-cut-out. 🙂

Advent activities – Week Three

The last week of school was a busy time
Baking and cake decorating
Sewing, knitting and crocheting
Ironing new patches on very old jeans
Reading Christmas books
Playing with friends
Building with Lego
Sledging in the wonderful foot-deep snow on the hill outside
And wondering whether Christmas will actually be spent where we intended…

Christmas cake shared with dear friends…

…who brought us this lovely gift

First gift from Froglet opened
Second gift adorning the shelf
in a beautiful bag he decorated himself at school

“We three kings of Orient are
With our psychedelic camels we travel afar…

…Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Foll’wing a felted star!”
Didn’t Froglet do a lovely job on those camels?
Wooden shapes from the DIY store which he coloured with felt-tip pens and glitter glue.
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Advent activities – Week Two

Froglet’s wrapping paper made at school…
“Mummy, it has to go on the wall, Miss said so!”

Scones, strawberry and rhubarb jam…
with our advent “wreath” behind them…

We give thanks to Ikea for the flat-packed gingerbread house…
and to God for the fun we had decorating it…

A reindeer with handprint antlers to adorn the front door…
although he seems to prefer the floor…

Toilet roll snowflakes, painted pearl and white, strung together for a garland…
much prettier than our blinds outside…

Waldorf-style shepherds…
with misshapen sheep…

And we still have time to hide in boxes too!


Advent activities – Week One

Advent calendar finished and hung up…
Tree decorated with unbreakable baubles, to the great delight of one small girl…

Some Christmas cards made…

New Jesse tree acquired (last year’s died) and Holy Family settled beneath it…

Great concentration is required for making jingle bell necklaces…

Pipe-cleaner, beads and bells for a lovely jingle bell bracelet/tree ornament!

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Advent activities list

Did you know Orthodox Advent has already started? For the Eastern churches (including Byzantine Catholics and perhaps others I don’t know of), Advent is a time of fasting similar to Lent. A bit different to what we’re used to here, and Priest’s Wife over at Fear Not Little Flock has a rather lovely post about how she intends to celebrate it, following the Proverbs 31 model. Check it out! 🙂

Here in the more Western tradition, I have finally organised my advent activities list. Not quite the same as last year’s, and I think it’s a slightly different set of Bible verses each day too, as there seem to be different variants of the Jesse Tree. (You can see the set we used last year here) The verses are not related to the activities in the slightest this year however!

Update: I’ve linked each week to the post showing (some of) those activities now that we’ve done them. This post is also linked to ABC&123’s Show&Tell series – for lots of other great Advent/Christmas/general activities, check out their site!

First week of Advent
Sunday 28/11: Put up Christmas tree (no reading)
29/11: Make Christmas cards (no reading)
30/11: Get out Jesse tree, Christmas bookshelf and red postbox*; read a Christmas story (no reading)
1/12: Make Xmas cake (Creation: Gen 1:1-31; 2:1-4)
2/12: Learn Jingle bells (Adam and Eve: Gen 2: 7-9, 18-24)
3/12: Make jingle bell bracelets (Adam and Eve cont.: Gen 3:1-7, 23-34)
Saturday 4/12: Make stable and Waldorf-style Holy family (Noah: bits of Gen 6 and 7)

Second week of Advent
Sunday 5/12: Bake scones, have cream tea (Abraham: Gen 12:1-3)
6/12: New Christmas book about St Nicholas (Isaac: Gen 22:1-14)
7/12: Candlelight dinner (Jacob: Gen 25:1-34, 28:10-15)
8/12: Public holiday – Make gingerbread house (Joseph: Gen 37:23-28, 45:3-15)
9/12: Learn Away in a manger; Reindeer paper plate craft (Moses: Ex 2:1-10)
10/12: Make toilet roll snowflakes (Samuel; 1 Sam 3:1-18)
Saturday 11/12: Make Waldorf shepherds, sheep and angel (Jesse: 1 Sam 16:1-13)

Third week of Advent
Sunday 12/12: Make felted star, eat gingerbread house (David: 1 Sam 17:12-51)
13/12: Buy gift from World Vision (Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28)
14/12: Learn the Holly and the Ivy (Joseph: Matt 1:18-25)
15/12: Paint a Christmas tree or possibly some holly (Mary: Luke 1:26-38)
16/12: Open red postbox, hang up cards; make ironing-bead ornaments (John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8)
17/12: Take Christmas card to school, eat mince pies (Jesus is Wisdom: Ecclesiasticus 24:2, Wisdom 8:1)
Saturday 18/12: Make Waldorf wise men, centurion, star, camels (Jesus is Lord: Ex 3:2, 20:1)

Fourth week of Advent
Sunday 19/12: Toast crumpets, play Christmas tree game (Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22)
20/12 Make felt crowns, hang stockings** (Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8, Eph 2:14-20)
21/12: Play out nativity story with Waldorf figures, celebrate Christmas (Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14, 33:22)

* the Red Postbox, constructed out of an old nappy (diaper) box, red paint and some cotton-wool “snow”, is where we keep Christmas cards that arrive so we can open lots and hang them all up on the same day. It’s a tradition I carried over from my own childhood. I don’t expect to get very many this year because we are absolutely rubbish at sending any out ourselves!
** A few days early, yes, but we will be away visiting relatives over the actual Christmas period so we are having our own celebration at home and with friends first using our own traditions.

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Things I want to do/make by myself!

Pinwheel bobby pins – I think these would be a cool gift for my little niece.
Danish* heart baskets for Christmas decorations. We used to make these with paper as kids, now I’d like to try with felt.
Finish my knitted blanket for the kids when in the car. It’s only taken me a year so far…

That’s all for now but I shall add to this list as time goes on, and put a link up in the sidebar like the joint crafts one.

*Random facts about me: I lived in Denmark as a baby, when we would divide our time between Germany and Copenhagen with my dad’s job. I then studied Danish at university and lived in Copenhagen on my own for a year. Would love to go back. And the bulk of my translation work is now from Danish to English.

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Open Ended Art – pebble mosaics

I’ve fallen behind on posting these even though we have been doing them diligently.

First off, this months theme over at Teaching My Little Bookworm is mosaics. And this weeks material was pebbles.

For some reason pebbles seem to be in short supply over here. Maybe I just don’t know where to look – beaches are sandy and river beds are inaccessible. So Froglet and I made our own pebbles. We used white clay, various small items to print with, sand, dried herbs and marker pens to colour them in. This was our first time using real clay and we had a great time! Froglet’s pebbles ended up relatively flat (not very pebble-like) but that was all part of the fun.

Then when they had been baked, cooled and coloured, we made mosaics using playdough as a background. I know this only barely qualifies as Art, as it’s not permanent, but I thought we might enjoy doing it again on a future occasion. And besides, I’m running out of storage space to keep permanent sculptures!

Froglet tells me that his mosaics are dinosaurs mouths with lots of teeth. He also discovered that the pebbles leave a nice pattern in the dough when they are removed.

I have more OEA photos to post from previous occasions but not time to do it in right now so it will have to be another post.


OEA – splat painting

While we were in the UK, we saw this type of very open-ended painting on CBeebies. Froglet was quite taken with the idea so we did it as soon as we got back. I just didn’t get round to posting about it before now!

This weeks theme at Teaching My Little Bookworm is Mixed Mediums. I figure we kind of did that back when we were supposed to be doing tissue paper, so our mediums are yellow paint, red paint, and blue paint. *cough*

For splat painting all you need is paper, paint, some bits of sponge, and something to splat with – we used the back of, er, one of those things you use to turn over pancakes and meat in the frying pan. (Help! My English is fading away!)

You’ll also want to clear a two-metre space on all sides of the splat-er. More if they’re older and likely to splat harder! Soak the sponge bits in paint – you may need to experiment a bit for the best consistency – then arrange them on paper and have at them.

And you may want to strip your child down too. Mine is wearing his undies, although you can’t tell from the picture.

Disclaimer: the pile of clothes in the corner is not laundry but outgrown clothes being packed away!
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Open Ended Art – yellow collage


Click here to see what everyone else did for OEA!

Not only did we start on this late, but it was not a very auspicious beginning:

After your milkshake, would you like to do a collage?
What’s a collage?
It’s when I give you glue and paper and you do some sticking.
No. I want to drink my milkshake.
Of course, but when you’ve finished your milkshake?
No. I want to play in my house.
How about if I give you the paper and you can stick it to your house?
Hmm. No.

Ah. So I tried again after the milkshake:

Would you like to do some sticking now?
Not even if Mummy comes and watches you?
Yeah! Sure! Sure!

Bingo. Must remember to specify that first, next time!

Here’s what he did before getting bored:

Click on the photo to get a closer look

An advert for the local bus service, fireworks, Swiss flag with yellow cheese cross (from a magazine). It’s Swiss national day soon, can you tell? Also an old handprint and a bunch of the sticky-backed plastic that we used in our OEA with paint last time! Which is why those bits are yellow… and in fact he had already added them to the house, when it was still just an Ikea cardboard box.

To use up the leftover glue, I made serendipity squares – first time I’ve made them. They’re not quite finished yet so no photos. But here’s my lovely boy in his newly decorated house instead!

The handprint is one we made for party invitations back when he was turning one!

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