inspired by the Coral Reef Habitat Mat from Waseca Biomes
needle-felted fish puppet
Zac and I have also been doing some crafts together. Here are a few of my favorite December ideas:
fabric sachets filled with wool and spices
rolled beeswax candles
strings of popcorn for the birds
paper window stars
This year Zac put slippers on his Christmas list so I made him a pair of Elf Slippers.
This adorable and very easy hand-sewing pattern is on page 82 of See and Sew: A Sewing Book for Children by Tina Davis, which I got for Natalie when she was 6. You definintely want to sew a sole of non-slip shelf liner on the bottom or they will be very slippery! The brand I chose is rubbery and perfectly easy to sew through; it comes in many colors and I chose teal blue.
Zac also got a paper Advent calendar for the first time, a really sweet one from eeBoo. You can, of course, make your own Advent calendar.
I love the idea behind All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss. She made a homemade Advent calendar with 25 animals from the Northern Hemisphere. As her kids would open each window she would tell them the story of how each of those animals prepares for and survives the Winter. Now the stories are all collected in a book, with wood-cut illustrations, and you read one each day. It really does give you a feeling of hope... and renews your sense of wonder in the mysteries of Nature!
I think it's an absolutely amazing book!!!! But I would suggest Second Grade, a key Nature Study year, or older since the stories are pretty science-y and they will go over the head of a younger child, like exactly how the Wood Frog freezes and thaws.
We also like to count down to Christmas Day by doing Mary's Path of Stars.
instructions in All Year Round
Our Nativity scene, which I made years ago when I was a brand-new needle felter, is set up with the ox in the stable, the sheep and shepherds in the field, and the path of gold paper stars. You have to pay attention because the number of stars changes every year. I suggest getting plenty of whatever paper you buy, so that you have all the same color. Buying a star punch is also really helpful! I got a big one and a little one and they have been a lifesaver. But, of course, you could always cut out the stars!
I have the pregnant Mary on her donkey with Joseph leading her. She starts out on the first star and moves to the next star in line each day. As she steps off a star, we tape it up on the sky above the stable. That way, when she arrives on the morning of December 25th, there is a whole sky of gold stars!
To keep Mary balanced on the donkey while pregnant I use a long vintage hatpin. It goes through her dress (where it looks like a decoration) and into the donkey in a way that does not show.
I set up this scene on our dining room buffet so there's a window behind it, and I hang a white wool roving angel on the window latch until Christmas morning when I take the angel down and put up a sterling silver star. I also take Mary off the donkey and cover her baby bump with a wool blanket, and add the baby in his little walnut shell cradle. We also have three Wise Men which show up and walk along day by day until they arrive at the stable on Epiphany.
One last idea for needle felting: little animals inside walnut shells! A friend gave me this ornament last year for Christmas and I think it's just adorable! If you are a needle felter, these would be easy and fun to make. This year, for the first time, we did a themed Christmas tree, and only put on our animal ornaments. It was so pretty! And we have such a variety of materials, so it was a very interesting tree.
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