An advent calendar is a popular way of children counting down to Christmas. BJ loves all the festivities around this time of year and when he was younger he couldn’t manage the commercial chocolate advent calendars. He can now do it and it has been a good challenge for him mastering it.
I remember all too well being disappointed when he was younger that he couldn’t participate and that is what led me to share an idea I had for an advent calendar for children with special needs. It is hopefully more accessible than the traditional store bought ones. It is easy to make and not expensive.
The first advent calendar is made up of small gift boxes. I bought 3 boxes for $2 at a dollar store and I have just made it for the 12 days of Christmas. I poked two holes into the front of the box and looped through some Christmas twine (also found at the dollar store). I arranged the boxes in the shape of a Christmas tree and attached with loads of Blue Tac. Make sure the boxes are at a height which can be reached. Alternatively you could do them in a line down a hallway.
The Christmas twine loop makes it easier for a child to open the box. The box then opens and reveals the token gift inside. You could put in a chocolate, a small car or stickers.
A cheaper version of the advent calendar is to use Christmas cards. I used a hole punch to make a hole to loop Christmas twine for easy opening. I once again arranged the cards in the shape of a Christmas tree and put a bow at the top. When BJ was younger I would have attached the cards to cardboard instead of the door and that way I could remove it once one card was opened. I can imagine the temptation of looking at it all day would have eventually overcome him and when my back was turned he would have very swiftly pulled them all down and had a mass opening!
Always with therapy on my mind I would have put the advent calendar at a point in the house where we could do some walking practice to get there. It would have been highly motivating for BJ to walk and get the reward of opening one of the cards each day.
The Christmas twine loop allows for easy opening and inside there could be a chocolate coin, some stickers or even some temporary tattoos. What you put inside really depends on your child’s interests.
These advent calendars don’t need many materials and are easy and relatively cheap to make. You could do the whole month of December or make it a shorter countdown. For a child learning the concept of time and dates it is educational and most of all it is a bit of fun.
Christmas is a special time and it is nice to feel included in all the traditions where possible.
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