Montessori friendly advent calendars

Do you use an advent calendar in your house?

Updated version for 2023!

For the last three years, we have used an activity advent calendar.

I bought a fabric advent calendar, I believe from Lidl, and made some activity cards that I hide in each pouch of the calendar. I chose activities to align with our December schedule, with some being more suitable for the weekend and others for a school day.

When my daughter was three, I once created 24 handmade felt surprises that I hid in a similar fabric calendar. I had more time back then! And I'm not a sewing expert – I barely manage to do a backstitch on felt.

Over the years, I've collected a few ideas that I wanted to share with you:

- Collect 24 small animal toys, either new or second-hand bargains, and have one for each day. You could add a matching card, and at the end of the advent period, you'll have 24 animals and 24 matching cards.

- Find a 24-piece puzzle (or 4 six-piece puzzles, or 6 four-piece puzzles, depending on your child's abilities) and let your child discover the puzzle day by day.

- Make an advent calendar with a pile of wrapped Christmas and winter-related books. I did this one year with their own books, wrapped up (we only take our Christmas books out in December), along with some new Christmas books. Check my list of Christmas books here

- Hide craft materials in each pouch of your calendar as an invitation to create each day with your child. (use rock crayons, sheets of stickers, mini-kits and all the materials you have at home already)

- Finger puppets and stickers are great small tokens to hide in a calendar.

- The toobs small toys can be shared in the advent calendar. Similarly, you can use the Lanka kade wooden animals, small cars, train set parts, a Lego set spread over a few days, and so on...

- When your children are under the age of three, you can use any toys you have in storage. Seriously, they generally don't remember they had them!

This year, my daughter will be 12 years old on the 1st of December. I feel that we are slowly but surely moving away from cute family activities. She is now interested in beauty products and more teenager-oriented gifts, even though she has asked for some Sylvanian Families. 😊

My son, who is 7, is still in that magical childhood period when he enjoys all our Christmas traditions.

So, this year, we will continue our activities, although I will revamp them to suit a teenager's interests as well.

And I might offer them a product-based calendar for a change. We tend to avoid extra chocolate and sweets here!

If you are short on time to create something, here are the ones I like:

Christmas tree ornaments advent calendar (the decorations are made of resin)

Playmobil has some too, most include a Santa and an Angel.

I am torn with the concept of Hama beads. I love that it encourages children to use a Iron but it's a lots of plastic. 

A Playdough advent calendar. When you could make your own playdough and store it in 24 cute little jars, it might be easier to buy an offical Playdough calendar. (you could also make one big batch of playdough for the first day and add 24 playdough cutter).

A Lego advent calendar: if your children are 4+, a Lego advent calendar could be to their taste.

Plaster painting kit Advent calendar: this one would been right up my street! I loved plaster craft when I was a child!

National Geographic Gemstone advent calendar: Great for a budding geologist! You could pair it with a book of rocks and minerals!

What about doing some science experiments? This one looks fun for my 11 years old!

(update 2023) Now that my children are 11 and 15 (she will be 16 in December), I am very tempted by this one as a way to connect over the Holidays period. 

Do you have any other advent calendar ideas?

I also share my own activity cards printable with you when you enrol in my free Simplify Christmas e-course. You can join this course and receive an email series with information, printables, and videos to help you make the holiday season more meaningful for your family.

Subscribe below to receive this course (you will also receive my weekly newsletter).

About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.