Snap-a-Day Advent Photo Challenge

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Last year I stumbled upon a photo challenge for advent, and I jumped in!  I looked up Bible verses to go with each one, wrote them on index cards, and put them in cute envelopes to be opened by Becca each night before bed.

This year, I’ve teamed up with that blogger- the one who does the photo challenge each year- and Allison Gringas and I are happy to bring you the Snap-a-Day Advent Challenge- now with FREE printable Bible verse cards for each day! 

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Simply share your photos daily on IG with #SnapAdvent and tag Allison @reconciledtoyou, and me @cdhinnant!  This printable makes it quick and easy for you to do a Bible verse with your child nightly, and combine it with the fun of a photo challenge!  You don’t even have to look up the verses- they are typed on each card for you in the NIV version (sample shown below).

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We are so excited to offer this to you FREE, and pray that it will bless your family.  Just print on any printer, cut, and enjoy!  Please do tag us both on your photos so we know that you’re benefiting from this printable!  God bless, and may you have an amazing Advent season as we prepare for Christ’s birth!

‘Tis The Season…

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Y’all, I’m so not ready for Christmas!  I mean, seriously.  We haven’t had Thanksgiving yet!  But Thursday will be here in just a couple more sleeps… and it’s time to start talking to you about Christmas.  So as a mini-revolt against Christmas taking over Thanksgiving, I decided to tell you what I’m thankful for… about Christmas.

I’m thankful for family traditions.

I grew up in a Christian home.  I remember that one thing we ALWAYS did, every Christmas Eve before we opened gifts was that we ALWAYS read the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2.  We’d eat dinner, and while the menu was usually the same, sometimes it varied.  The dessert was always different, the tree always looked a little different, but that reading of Luke 2 was the same.  Grandpa or Daddy or I (once I was old enough) would read the Christmas story.  The reason for the season was never overlooked.

Cody grew up similarly.  Every Christmas Eve, his family went to church to light candles and sing hymns with their church family and celebrate the birth of Christ.  Because it was important to both sets of our parents to make sure that we as kids knew that Christmas wasn’t just about the giving and receiving of gifts… it was about the Ultimate Gift that God gave to us – His Son, Jesus Christ.

I’m so thankful for those traditions.  But now, as a mom, I feel the pressure of the commercial world.  Christmas is all about the decorations and the presents and the big fat man with a jolly beard who gives gifts to good kids.  It’s about an elf who watches behavior and about how full your stocking is with technology items.  Heck, Christmas isn’t even about spending time with family any more – its about seeing how fast you can open your presents so you can go play with them.  Maybe it always has been, but for me, Christmas was about family, and about that story we read.  It was about celebrating the birth of Christ.

And I’m thankful for that.  I’m also thankful that Becca is growing up wanting to make Jesus a birthday cake every year.  She came up with that idea when she was just 17 months old, and now we do it every year as a special part of our Christmas Eve traditions.  Because THAT is the reason for the season!  He is the reason why we celebrate.  We give gifts because of Saint Nicholas and all that he gave to the children who were poor and needy.  We give gifts to remember the Ultimate Gift that God gave us….

But in all of that, how do we juggle it all?  I mean, December only has 24 days before the “big day” to fit everything in.  Christmas has crept into November, and taken over Thanksgiving.  The shopping for presents begins earlier and earlier every year.  Heck, many stores even begin putting out their Christmas stuff before Halloween… because there just isn’t enough time to prepare for Christmas and all the hubbub.  So how on Earth are we as busy parents supposed to make time to keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas?

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I have a fabulous and easy set of printables I want you to check out.  They’re on sale for a limited time before Black Friday (code: PREBLACKFRI10OFF to save $10), and you can find the whole set here.  (Aff link, thank you!)  This set isn’t about making more work for you, it’s about making Christ the center of Christmas and it’s SUPER EASY to print out what you want and has guides to give you ideas for how to use the items with all different ages of kids!  I’m so excited to get all of my stuff printed out and set up this weekend (yes, AFTER Thanksgiving!) so that we can begin focusing on all the important parts of CHRISTmas.  Alicia Michelle has really outdone herself on this set, and I hope and pray that you will invest in this set for your family.  You can reprint pieces year after year, or print everything the first time on card stock and then laminate so all you have to do is pull it out and hang it up in the future.  There are decorations, activities, and so much more in this set.  I will be posting on my Facebook page as we complete certain parts of the set, and I hope that you will merge this set into your family traditions and share your photos as well – I know you will be blessed, and so will your kids!

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Got questions?  Don’t hesitate to ask!  I’m here to help!

Writing About Thankfulness

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In my original post in this series, I mentioned setting up a Thankful Journal for Becca, and I showed how I put it together.  I wanted to show you how my original plan evolved, and what we’re doing.  Becca has decided also that she wants to do her journal every day until the book is full!  So, at least for now, we’re thinking we’ll keep doing this beyond November.

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I had her practice her handwriting to write the title on the cover, and then she has been having great fun looking through magazines to find illustrations for things she is thankful for.  Right now, I’m writing “I am thankful for” and then she finishes the sentence and writes the date.  We practice sounding out the words to figure out how to spell them, and I help her with silent letters or tricky spellings.

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I love her beginning handwriting – her periods are gigantic, and so are her letters. Many of her letters are backwards, and some end up sideways. Early writing is so cute!

Another super fun writing activity that we did, I actually wrote the words, but she came up with them.  We did this Thankful Alphabet activity, which is a free printable found here.

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Then we hung it on the refrigerator with Grayson’s list of friends he is thankful for (See my Toddler Thanksgiving post here).  The kids love having their thankful lists on the fridge!

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Yup. That says “Lepidopterists” on L, and “Unicorns” on U. Because that’s the world we live in – one that is very scientific and based in fact, but dusted with glitter, fairy dust, and lots of make believe. 🙂

Looking for more fun FREE Thanksgiving writing and handwriting printables?  Just click on the pictures below to see what else we’re working on this month!

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Thankfulness and Thanksgiving – for your Toddler

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Continuing my series on Thankfulness and Thanksgiving, I wanted to give you some ideas of things you can do with your little ones – the toddlers in your house who are just beginning to get the concept of saying “thank you” when you give them something.

I started with a very basic activity for Gray – I asked him, “Who are your friends that you thank Jesus for?”  Then, I wrote each of their names on a leaf – from this free printable (shown below) and then we hung it on the refrigerator.  He was so proud of his paper!  “Those Gray friends!  I say thank you Jesus my friends!”  Get your own copy of the printable here (it’s page 4 of the free document).

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I also wanted him to be able to participate in some of the thankfulness art he had seen Sister doing, by letting him make some of his own Homemade Cards for his teacher at Mother’s Day Out, and for his nursery teacher on Sunday mornings.  He also wanted to make pictures for his grandparents.  I started him out by simply painting over leaves, and then once it turned into a full-on sensory activity (I knew it would – the boy loves to paint his hands!) then, I grabbed more sheets of paper and helped him make hand prints, which I turned into turkeys.

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I have a couple of cute poems that I’ve pinned over on my Thanksgiving pin board, and I’ll select one of those to write inside the cards.  Super simple, but he had a blast feeling the paint, being tickled by the paint  brush, and feeling the silk leaves.  It was a great sensory activity that was lots of fun for him!

Note – I love using acrylic paint for kid projects because it easily washes off of skin, and dries quickly on paper.  BUT it stains clothing, so we usually do those projects either with a smock, or with him in his diaper.

Back to the original Thankfulness and Thanksgiving post.

Saying Thank You with A Handmade Card

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There are a million different ways to make cards.  But I wanted to do something unique with Becca.  I had a package of silk leaves from Hobby Lobby, and I was wondering what to do with them.  And then it hit me – leaf cards!

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As you can see, they turned out beautiful.  Here’s what we did, and the thoughts behind them.

  1. Peel the plastic stem backing off of silk leaves (or collect fresh fall leaves if you have them!)
  2. Gather card stock paper that is thick.  Fold each sheet in half.  (However many you decide to make is up to you.)
  3. Mix a little bit of water in a bowl with a lot of glue  – just runny enough to be able to paint with the glue.  Completely cover a sheet of thick card stock with the watery glue, leaves, and more watery glue on top.
  4. Lay them open flat to dry – on a plastic tablecloth or place mat.  NOTE – they will be wet enough that if you have used colored card stock, the wetness of the glue will leave color on whatever you let them dry on… I had to Ajax my white countertop to remove the orange.  Not even Magic Eraser would get it off.  Thankfully Ajax w bleach did the trick.  (So learn from my mistake!)  They will take quite a while to dry if you’ve used enough glue to truly hold the leaves on.
  5. Once they are dry, fold them back closed, and place a heavy pan on top of the stack of cards for a day or so to re-crease them. folded-cards
  6. Have your child dictate (or write) thank you notes to community helpers who make a difference, send to grandparents, or to other special people that your child wants to say thank you to.  (We are sending notes to our pastor, our local sheriff’s office, the guy at our post office who always helps us, and for the volunteers at our local fire department.)  If you’re going to mail, you’ll need to make sure that your paper starts out small enough to fit the leaves and everything inside an envelope.  Since we’re hand-delivering ours, we didn’t worry about the size, and I just used full 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper folded in half.

Looking for more Thankfulness and Thanksgiving ideas to use with your kids?  Check back here on Monday, and all next week!

The original Thankfulness and Thanksgiving post is here.