Laying out your Advent Calendar: What to do with the pieces

I received a question from a customer today that I thought others might have. She asked…

Do you put all of the pieces on the felt at one time and let the kids find the right one when you’re reading each day’s verse? Just wondered how this part worked or how you found it to work the best. … When you say start from the beginning of the story, do you mean to take off all the pieces or just start reading from the beginning?

Son placing pieces on Advent Calendar

Son placing pieces on Advent Calendar

These are great questions, and the simple answer is “Yes!” There are many ways to do the Advent Calendar. Here are the options we have used in the past:

  1. Place all pieces across the top and bottom of the calendar. The first year we used our calendar, our oldest son was only two. We didn’t want him to be able to mess with the pieces during the day so we hung the calendar high enough on the wall that he couldn’t reach it. Then we took all of the pieces and lined them across the bottom and top of the banner. As we read the line from the story each day, we would take the piece out of the row and place it on the “Correct” spot on the banner. The pieces that we’ve already used stay on the banner and the nativity scene gradually fills in each day.
  2. Keep all the pieces in the folder. Last year we took a more interactive approach with our 2 year-old and 3.5 year old. We put the backdrop within reach of the children and kept all of the pieces in a folder with our story and song lyrics. We would put them up at the end of each time at the calendar to avoid losing them. Each day we pulled out all the pieces we had used up until that point and divided them between the two kids. As we retold the story (up to whatever day we were on) we would have the boys place their pieces on the calendar to recreate the scene.
  3. Traditional pockets: This year we are taking a new approach. I sewed pockets on my Advent Calendar and put all the pieces inside. The kids will take turns getting to take the new piece out of the pocket and adding it to the display. I plan to offer a pocket calendar backdrop next year in the store if this trial goes well.

*I think its good to be flexible too. My husband likes to put the stable and houses on one side of the banner for the first week or so, and we “act out” in a sense Mary and Joseph going across the calendar to Bethlehem. If you really want to, you can even pull the angels out early and have them on the display to declare the news to Mary & Joseph. But I’m a stickler for following procedure so we don’t use the angels until its time :).

*The pieces are not designed to be played with by young children as they do present a choking hazard! However, I do let my older kids play with the pieces that are already out on the calendar if they are supervised.

***If your friends are wanting to do an Advent Calendar too, I have several completed calendars ready to ship. It usually takes 2-4 days to arrive USPS Priority Mail so orders placed by early Monday morning can arrive by the end of the week. Order in our Etsy Shop.


2 responses

  1. Thanks for the great suggestions! I might try sewing on a pocket to our felt for all of the pieces too. The kids really seem to be enjoying the Advent time with the felt pieces. Thank you!

  2. I am doing something similar to the pockets. My 3 year old and I made a Christmas tree out of a bunch of toilet paper rolls. We painted, stickered, yarned the rolls then glued them together. There’s a triangle tree with 21 rolls and then the base of the tree made of 4 rolls (I started collecting these rolls a long time ago! :)). So, the tree has 25 openings. I had originally intended on getting small cloth bags to put each felt character piece in with a 1, 2, 3…tag to go with it, but I didn’t get my bags or tags yet. So, I have just been pulling out one of the pieces each night and putting it in one of the slots. My 3 yr old finds the piece in the tree then we read that portion of the story. I’m actually glad it worked out this way, because she wants all of the pieces now. 🙂 Also, I created a paper chain with each link being the portion of the story for that day. We are taking off one link each day and reading that portion. We started taping the links that have been read in our hallway so that at the end, we will have a hallway length of the story. FUN!! 🙂

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