Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Advent countdown

I have been wondering, pondering, thinking, researching, reading and getting ideas of what I want to do for Advent this year.  We've not really done anything significant in the past for the countdown to Christmas.  I wanted to do something MORE this year, something MEANINGFUL and something to make MEMORIES.  (How's that for alliteration?)  So, I purchased the book The Jesse Tree  by Geraldine McCoughrean.

I decided to try it this year.  I found some links online that I have also used to help me plan.  I also wanted to try the idea of reading a different Christmas book for each of the 24 days before Christmas.  I also wanted to do some sort of activity each day.  Some days, we have scouts, or a church function or other engagements on the calendar, so those days I wouldn't have time to prepare and help with a craft, so I came up with some lighter things to do those days.  The following is my plan. 

November  30 – Introduction to what the Jesse Tree is
Make the branches for the tree (or set up the Christmas tree)

Read – S is for Star – Cynthia Furlong Reynolds

Day 1 – The Jesse Tree
Read Gen. 1:1-2:3
Make a creation symbol – sun, earth, moon, star
Use a pie pan to cut out a symbol and the head of a nail to decorate it.

Activity – Sing “O Come All Ye Faithful”
Read – S is for Star – Cynthia Furlong Reynolds

Day 2 – Paradise Garden
Read Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24
Make an apple with a bite out of it – Use foam, cut out a worm to put on the apple

Activity – Listen to Christmas music
Read – Gingerbread Baby – Jan Brett

Day 3 – A Boat Full of Animals
Read Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22
Make a rainbow using tissue paper or torn construction paper

Activity - Make Nativity silhouette
Read – Silver Packages – Cynthia Rylant

Day 4 – Strange Visitors
Read Gen. 12:1-3, 18:1-2, 9-15
Make a tent out of cloth

Activity – Wrap Christmas gifts
Read – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (Usborne edition)

Day 5 – A Test of Love
Read Gen. 22:1-14
Cut a ram out of stiff brown paper – glue cotton balls to it.

Activity – Watch a Christmas movie
Read – A Carol for Christmas – Ann Tompert

Day 6 – Stairway To Heaven
Read Gen. 28:10-15
Make a ladder with toothpicks or straws

Activity – Celebrate Christmas with extended family
Read - The Quiltmaker’s Gift – Jeff Brumbeau

Day 7 – The Dreamer
Read Gen. 37:1-34
Cut a coat out of stiff paper and fill in the stripes with cloth

Activity – Listen to Handel’s Messiah
Read – Baboushka – Arthur Scholey

Day 8 – Famine and Plenty
Read Gen. 41:46-57
Make a silver coin with pie tin

Activity - Make a Christmas card for someone
Read – The Legend of the Poinsettia – Tomie dePaola

Day 9 – Let My People Go!
Read Ex. 2:1-10, 3:1-14, 5:1-5, 12:31-36, 20:1-17
Make tablets out of cardstock and write roman numerals on it

Activity – Make hot chocolate
Read – Great Joy – Kate DiCamillo

Day 10 – The Foreigner
Read Ruth 2:1-23, 4:13-17
Make grain out of yarn and bird seed

Activity – Sing “The First Noel”
Read – The Wild Christmas Reindeer – Jan Brett

Day 11 – Speak, Lord, for your Servant is Listening
Read 1 Sam. 3:1-18
Make a lamp

Activity – Watch a Christmas movie
Read – The Crippled Lamb – Max Lucado

Day 12 – The Shepherd King
Read 1 Sam. 16:1-13
Make a king’s crown using jewels to decorate

Activity – Wrap Christmas gifts
Read – How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss

Day 13 – Dancing
Read 1 Sam. 17:12-51
Make a sling shot and 5 stones

Activity – Celebrate Christmas with extended family
Read – Alabaster’s Song – Max Lucado

Day 14 – The Wisdom of Solomon
Read 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28
Make a temple

Activity – Make quilled snowflakes
Read – The Candymaker’s Gift – David &Helen Haidle

Day 15 – The Idol and the Still Small Voice
Read 1 Kings 18:21-39, 19:10-13
Make an altar with small rocks with a fire around it

Activity - Sing “Away in the Manger”
Read – Dear Santa – Patrick S. Kleinen

Day 16 – War and Peace
Read Isaiah 11:1-5, 40:3-5
Make a stump with a branch coming out of it

Activity – Watch a Christmas movie
Read – The Nutcracker – Ronald Kidd

Day 17 – Dumbstruck!
Read Luke 1:5-25
Make a priest’s lamp

Activity – Attend the Nutcracker musical
Read – King of the Stable – Melody Carlson

Day 18 – Mary
Read Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38
Make a heart

Activity – Discuss what the name of Jesus means.  What does your name mean?
Read – Annika’s Secret Wish – Beverly Lewis

Day 19 – Jumping for Joy
Read Luke 1:39-45, 57-66
Make a tablet (chalkboard) with words, “His name is John”

Activity – Celebrate Christmas with the extended family
Read – The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry

Day 20 – The Worst of all Possible Times
Read Luke 2:1-7
Make a manger

Activity – Sing “Joy to the World”
Read – The Small One – Alex Walsh

Day 21 – Wonderful News
Read Luke 2:8-20
Make a shepherd’s staff

Activity – Make Christmas cookies
Read – The Shepherd Girl – Juliann Henry

Day 22 – The Cunning and the Wise
Read Matt. 2:1-12
Make three gifts

Activity – Make the Wise men craft
Read – We Believe in Christmas – Karen Kingsbury

Day 23 – Angels
Read Matt. 2:13-23
Make an angel

Activity – Sing “Go, Tell It on the Mountain”
Read – The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – Susan Wojciechowski

Day 24 – The Brightest Star
Read Matt. 2:2
Make a star

Activity – Attend Christmas Eve Service
Read – The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore

Day 25 – Christmas Day
Read John 1:1-14
Jesus is the light of the world

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writing games

We are taking a break the rest of this month from our "normal" language arts and playing some writing games.  The cranberry poems was our first break.  Yesterday, I had them make a list of 3 wishes they would make if they found a real wishing well.  That didn't turn out like I expected (Pokemon becoming real, being an NFL player...)  Today, we played a fun game that a friend of mine did with her 2nd grader and it was fun (for me and both boys.)  We took turns writing part of a story - the catch is, we can only write as many words as we roll on a die.  It was tough not to finish a sentence, or see a sentence we started not finish the way we had planned.  Here are our creations.  I will put my words in italics so you can see who wrote what.  (I gave them the titles.)

Alex's story "When I Was in the Woods"

I took a walk in the woods.  I saw a big, juicy, fat, delicious, scrumptious, awesome, appleIt had a salamander in itI wanted itI picked the apple to cut.  But I saved the salamander.  "I will keep you in a box."  I said.  And we went on homeThe end.

Nicolas's story "The Day a Monster Visited Us"

One day, a green dog was on a bike.  He rode to my houseHe loved me but a monster came.  The monster thought my dog looked bad, really bad.  "A pickle?"  "NO!"  "A cat?"  The dog barked.  "A male?"  "rrrr"  "A dog?"  "Yes."  The monster was hungry so was the dogHe barkedI fed the monster.  He barkedThe dog ate corn...

They have both asked if we can do this again next time.  Maybe I can get them to stop arguing long enough to do one all together.  :)

Cranberry Fun

We read Cranberry Thanksgiving at co-op on Monday.  In the book, the grandmother makes a judgment about 2 people based on their appearances.  The one that was clean cut, smelled good and dressed nicely she thought highly of.  She did not like the one that smelled like clams, had a long beard and did not dress the way she preferred.  It turned out that the clean cut man tried to steal her secret cranberry bread recipe and the man she didn't like stopped him. 

For one activity, the children chose a gift from several placed on a table.  All but one gift was wrapped nicely with a bow and pretty paper.  One gift was wrapped messy with newspaper.  They children opened their gifts to find trash in the nicely wrapped ones.  One child chose the messy gift, but inside was enough candy for everyone.

The lesson was that we cannot judge people from their appearances.  We need to look at what is inside, just the way God does.

The other lesson was about cranberries.  We learned that cranberries float.  That's how they are harvested in bogs.  The bogs are flooded and the cranberries come to the top.  They also bounce.  A cranberry has to bounce at least 4 inches when dropped from 12 inches to be kept and bagged as a whole cranberry.  We experimented with that.  Not many of the cranberries we tried bounced that high, but it was an interesting lesson.

So this week, at home, we have focused on cranberries.  Tuesday, the boys each wrote a poem about cranberries.  We used a fill in the blank format to create these.


As little as a cranberry.
As hard as a cranberry.
An apple is not as tiny as a cranberry.
A plum is not as round as a cranberry.
A grape is as small as a cranberry.
Nothing in the world is as sour as a cranberry.


As small as a cranberry.
As red as a cranberry.
As hard as a cranberry.
As sour as a cranberry.
As light as a cranberry.
An apple is not as red as a cranberry.
An orange is not as hard as a cranberry.
A peach is not as sour as a cranberry.
A banana is not as light as a cranberry.
A plum is not as small as a cranberry.
A grape is as small as a cranberry.
Nothing in the world is as sour as a cranberry.

Last night for supper, we had Cranberry Pork Roast and Cranberry-Apple Crisp for dessert.

Today we are going to have Cranberry tea to drink after lunch.

Tomorrow we are going to use the rest of our cranberries along with some popcorn and string them as treats for our birds outside.