Some of my fondest childhood Christmas memories were spent re-enacting the Christmas story with a plastic nativity set that my parents own. I wanted the Sprout to have that same sort of interactive experience with the Christmas story so I made finger puppets to fill our Advent Calendar. Although you might think this is Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and the angel Gabriel, you would be wrong. This is actually Zachariah, Elizabeth, the baby John the Baptist and the angel. I happened to know that the Sprout is obsessed with "baaee-beees" right now and I would have a better chance of catching her imagination if there was a "baaee-beee" long before Day 25 when the Christ Child arrives.
Really I don't have all 25 of the characters finished yet. I have three wise men, a couple of camels, some shepherds and sheep, a cow, and a donkey in the works. And then of course there will be Joseph, Mary and Jesus. 25 pockets seems like a lot to fill but the beauty of it is that each day only requires one more character, and if I don't manage to get that one done, the Sprout is young enough that she doesn't notice yet. I imagine next year, she will be adamant that we do the story correctly every night with a new cast member.
The finger puppets are made from materials that I had around the house since I'm not sure how committed I am to them for the long-term. I used some canvas I had left over from an earlier project and a black fabric pen to draw simple characters on it. Then I filled in a bit of the drawing with fabric paint (also left over from earlier projects). I layered the characters on to another layer of canvas and zigzagged around each one before I cut them out. I didn't finish them very neatly but I was trying to keep it simple and something I could do on the fly once a week or so.
The finger puppets are a little big for toddler fingers. I'm considering sticking velcro on the back of each character and making backdrop for them to stick to like this Little People Advent Calendar.
Like I said, I don't know that the finger puppets are what will always abide in the pockets of the calendar. When the Sprout is older I'd like to incorporate family activities in the Advent Calendar. I love how Sally Shim does it with her boys over here, and my friend Michelle is having a great time with Advent with her family over here.
I hope the Sprout remembers this part of Christmas first. The part with the anticipation of the birth of a Savior. The part with angels and stars and kings and the divine mystery of God made flesh. I hope she remembers feeling part of the story like I did when I was a child.