It is the last week of November, and I am reminded through, all my senses, that the Christmas season is near. However, at the moment, what I am looking forward to is December 1st. This has always been a special day in our family. To me, even as an adult, this means that I will get to start my advent calendar. So, you may be wondering, what does an advent calendar have to do with learning? SO many exciting opportunities! (Although for me as an adult, my advent calendars have graduated into something not so 'educational' and more 'chocolatey' as my family has discovered that Lindt makes yummy advent calendars). However, as a child, my mom did many things with advent calendars and often we'd do something different each year. Of course, as a child, this was a surprise and the first present that I got to open (always an exciting thing, presents). There are so many homemade advent calendar ideas online and in print. Whether you are from a religious background or whether you just want to have some concrete way of answering the question "Mommmmmmm.... How many days are there till Christmas?", you could try something different every year. From calendars where you read a different book each night, to ones where you make a new ornament or craft, there are many ideas to keep your child's hands and brains busy thinking!
As well, when I was younger, there were commercially made advent calendars available that didn't contain candy or chocolate. They had quotes, sayings or small phrases written in them. On years where my mom didn't make her own, she would buy these ones (on sale of course, from last year's Boxing Day sales). I always thought she bought these ones because I wasn't allowed to eat chocolate, but I look back and realise that it was also because she wanted the Countdown to Christmas to involve all my learning skills! Moms can be so tricky, sneaking in all that learning when a child thinks it’s play!
So, as the 1st of December approaches, I eagerly check my mailbox every day to see if mom has sent a package. In it, there will be an advent calendar and this means that the time of sharing, loving, giving and family time is here! Something new will happen this year though...... for on its way, to my parents’ mailbox in another city..... is an advent calendar just for them!! Time to share the learning (and chocolate)!
In the fall of 2010, as I was driving to my students' house, I was listening to The Current on CBC news. The topic of the day was "Special Needs Inclusion". As the students I was working with were both High-functioning Autistic, I was especially interested in sharing it with them. After listening to the program, my two students were very passionate about their feelings about Inclusion in the classroom. I suggested that they write a message to Anna Maria Tremonte. The producer loved their letter so much, the two were interviewed over the phone (a definite learning experience for them), and then featured on the following Letters section. Here is the link to the original episode:
and the portion of the Letters episode where my students are interviewed: