We had a lovely Advent season in Appleseeds this year. The children added a small something to our Advent wreath each day, and put stars up on our winter scene. For the first week of Advent, each day at snack one child would pick an item representing the mineral world to place on the wreath. Some children even brought in a favorite stone from home, and that went on the wreath as well. During the second week, items from the plant world were chosen; a nut, some wheat, some holly, and a pinecone were added on day by day. Because the third week was our last, we added both human and animal figures. It was a crowded wreath, but lovely all the same. Our story during Advent was called "The Star Dipper", and is about a girl who goes into the woods to fetch some water from the stream for her ill mother. On her way home, she meets animals and people who need water and each time she gives them a drink, her dipper turns from first tin to bronze, then silver, then gold, and then finally upon giving her mother a drink, it floats up and becomes the Big Dipper in the sky, as a reminder to everyone to be kind to those we meet and willing to offer help and care. If you are able to during these cool, clear nights, point out the big dipper to your children.
We kept our days and activities simple to help create a place of calm anticipation during the holiday season. The children created a small winter painting day by day, doing a small part of it each day until it was complete. Their second project was a wool felted ornament. They felted wool around a styrofoam ball, and then, inspired by our razzle dazzle pumpkins a couple months ago, we stuck pins and sequins into the ball. The children love using the pins to stick through the tiny sequin hole, and they make a satisfying crunching noise when you push them into the styrofoam. We may see some razzle dazzle Easter eggs later on....
Actively editing our activities during this holiday season has helped me to consider what I hope to create for our New Year. The truth is that the busy holiday season is really not THAT much busier than any other time of year in our country. As adults, we have to very carefully edit our time and actively choose to slow ourselves down. Children can help to be our guides in that, as long as we don't make the assumption that they must be entertained. It is enough to simply allow them to BE in the outdoors and in their play, and its a soothing reprieve from the world when we allow our adult selves to just BE with them. I am so grateful to have the privilege of just being with these children.