Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Online Advent Calendars

In this digital age Advent calendars aren't only physical. Here is a selection of online Advent calendars for you to share with your child. Sorry, no chocolate involved ;)

If you want to learn about other countries and how they celebrate Christmas, have a look at this one from Project Britain. Check out Day 6 if you are exploring with Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

If you want ideas and inspiration for outdoor activities take a look at this advent calendar from Nature Detectives. Day 9 fits will help with one of the activities in Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

For an advent calendar that reveals items relating to the First World War, check out this one from The Liverpool Museums. Day 15 is particularly relevant to Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

For younger children, you might like to try this cute interactive one from Poisson Rouge that will help with mouse control skills or this one from CBeebies which offers different types of games every day.

Older children may enjoy Christmas themed games and puzzles at Santa Games.

Activity Village offer a daily printable colouring sheet - this year's theme is a Christmas train :)

If you want an advent calendar that focuses on the religious aspect of the season, have a look at this one from the Jam Trust in Scotland that gives Bible verses, carols and facts about Christmas traditions.

And, if all else fails, you can even make your own online advent calendar for free at Adventios....I'm book marking this for next year :)

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Book to go with the Latest PBE

If you're looking for the book to go with the latest Picture Book Explorers guide, look no further :)
You can buy a copy of The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo from The Works for £4.99.

Even if you're not planning on exploring the book right now, it's still worth buying a copy and reading it this year as we approach the centenary of the event depicted in the story - the Christmas day truce and famous football match on no-man's land in 1914.

The words of Michael Morpurgo work well with the pictures of Michael Foreman. Together, they tell the story with a sensitivity that is both heartwarming and heartrending in equal measure.

If you spend £10 at The Works, you can get free delivery and 20% off with the code 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Reindeers to Remember Them By

This is a simple craft activity to do with little ones that can be repeated year after year to measure how they grow :)

You need
dark brown and light brown paper or card
felt tip pens
pre-cut sticky shapes
googly eyes/glitter etc.

On the dark brown paper, draw round your child's foot. This is the reindeer's head.
On the light brown paper, draw round both your child's hands. These are the reindeer's antlers.
Stick the hands at the toe end of the foot.
Let your child decorate the reindeer as they like, adding eyes, nose, mouth, glitter etc.

I still have the reindeer that my son made when he was 2. It's so fun for him to see how much he has grown. I wish I'd made one every year so he could keep track of his annual growth rate and we could have had our own herd of reindeers to remember him by on our wall :)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Make a Christmas Bauble

This is one Christmas craft activity that both my youngest children recommend. You could go for neatly organised rotational symmetry, but they enjoy a more organic approach :)

You will need a Polystyrene Ball 
some lengths of ribbon
Coloured Headed Sewing Pins, 

Cut the ribbon into short lengths.
Stick a pin through one end of the ribbon into the polystyrene ball.
Wrap the ribbon round the ball tightly.
Stick another pin through the ribbon into the polystyrene ball.
Repeat until your ball is covered in different coloured ribbons.
Use as many pins as necessary to hold the ribbons in place.
Fold piece of ribbon into a loop and pin this to the ball.
Use the loop to hang your bauble on your tree.

New! Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World

The new Picture Book explorers pack accompanies the book The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman. It is a moving story that involves secret drawers, hidden letters, burnt down houses and an elderly lady. The book tells the tale of the Christmas day truce of 1914 in the words of a British soldier.  The book is sensitively illustrated and the combination of words and pictures brings me to tears every time I read it.

There is also a stage show/book reading performance which fills in a little more of Jim Macpherson's story including where he was stationed and when he died. It is read by Michael Morpurgo and Virginia Mckenna and has musical accompaniment.  It will be next performed at St Martin's Cathedral at Ypres on Monday 22nd December 2014.

Whilst researching the Christmas day truce story to write Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World, I have read so many letters and seen so many photographs of the soldiers who were part of this amazing piece of history that the characters in the book feel even more alive to me now. It is such a poignant story of the hope of peace in the midst of war. Some of this information is in the pack but there are also winter weather science experiments, art activities, creative writing prompts, discussion starters and role play opportunities in this hands-on learning pack that includes maps, flags and timelines and recipes.

The first time I remember hearing of the Christmas day truce was in the Paul McCartney music video to his song "The Pipes of Peace" way back in the1980s. Now I'm showing my age ;)

Get a third off the price of  Picture Book Explorers ~ The Best Christmas Present in the World via this
valid until 8th December 2014.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Make Snowflakes

Every year my children spend the first few days of Advent making snowflakes. Each year they have got more complex as well as more numerous. They like to string them across the room instead of paper chains or tinsel.

This year they have been watching snowflake tutorials on Youtube. These are two of their favourites. They like this one because it is fun...

...and they like the second one because it is a more serious tutorial on how to make six-pointed snowflakes which are much more tricky.

For a less messy, less permanent snowflake, you can visit this virtual snowflake maker :) 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Make an Easy Upcycled Advent Calendar

This is a really easy and cheap jigsaw Advent calendar to make. All you need is an old Christmas card, the bigger the better, a pair of scissors, a pen and some glue.

Cut the back half off the old Christmas card and keep on one side. You will need this to use as the base for your jigsaw.

 On the back of the picture, write the numbers 1 to 24, nicely spread out. I've written mine in order so my Boy will get the edge pieces first. Cut in between the numbers to create the 24 jigsaw pieces.

On the other half of the card that you cut off initially, write the numbers 1 to 24 in roughly the corresponding positions to show your child where the pieces should go.


Give your child a piece of jigsaw every day. Stick the pieces on to the card back with glue. At the end of Advent your child will have a complete picture.