Re-Purposed Card Advent Calendar

Like a lot of families, sometimes we have to endure a temporary separation for work purposes.  We had just dropped Daddy off at the airport and my daughter said, “Mom!  We should make an advent calendar for when Daddy comes home!”.   I couldn’t believe she’d remembered the advent calendar we had made over 9 months ago for Christmas using some twine, small boxes and wrapping paper.

I thought it was a great idea!  It would be a way to talk about their daddy and how much we missed him, but that he’d be back soon.  It was also a way to incorporate some number and letter recognition exercises into each day, as well as an appreciation for time in days and weeks.

On a trip to Target, I picked up a piece of black tagboard, some post-its shaped like numbers and letters and some adhesive gem stickers.  Total cost was about 10 bucks.  The rest of what we used came from what we had in our office and craft bins.

As I was preparing to buy envelopes to use as pockets for the calendar, I looked at my mail pile.  I had a coffee invitation, and a large birthday card.  I normally recycle cards unless they are super special.  But, I could use them.  I ran to the office and pulled out some cheap blank cards I’d been meaning to use for the last 5 years.  We now had advent calendar pockets.

Here’s our material list:

  • Large piece of tagboard
  • Number and Letter Post-its (or you can cut out your own, use stencils or draw them on to save $$)
  • Received cards, invitations, or cheap unused stationary/Thank You cards you need to toss out, donate or recycle
  • Glue
  • Tape (if the glue fails)
  • Decorations (stickers, stamps, gem stickers)
  • Markers
Step 1:  Glue the sides of each card together so that it creates an opening to hold candy or small items (like crayons or erasers).  If you have large cards, cut them to size.  I cut a birthday card in half I’d received and read (and appreciated very much, by the way, Papa).
Step 2:  Figure out your layout using the lettering and cards.  Once you start gluing stuff down, it’s hard to re-consider.  🙂

Step 3:  Glue the numbers onto the cards with the opening at the top.  You can also use stamps to do this or just draw the letters on.

Step 4:  Fill the card pockets with the advent treat.

Step 5:  Apply glue to the most protruding part of the card’s back.  This is where it will adhere best to the tagboard.

Step 6:  Apply a little pressure to your card pockets to set the glue.

Step 7:  Prepare some notes to decorate the calendar for the person you’re missing!  You can use photos, too!

Here are ours-  Mine, the 2 year old’s and the 4-year old’s.  Can you guess which one is which?  🙂

Step 8:  The kids can apply their notes to the advent calendar…

I’m so happy my daughter thought of this project.  It was really easy and cheap to do.  We spent some nice time together.  It’s useful and educational.  The kids look forward to their little mini-bar of chocolate every night.  Oh, and they missed Daddy, too, of course.   Loved this quick and fun craft!

If you decide to try this craft, shoot your photos to and they’ll go into the Critters And Crayons Facebook Page Album for Fan Photos of Cooking Recipes and Craft Projects.

Happy Crafting.  Hope it’s good.  But, if it’s not.  That’s okay.

It’s A Hundred? It’s Fall! Grain Mosaics!

Well, it is officially Fall.

Yesterday morning actually felt a little brisk.  And then the rest of the day was much cooler than usual settling at about 95 degrees.  A local friend reported seeing a homeless guy walking around with a blanket.  Today, it’s supposed to be a hundred degrees.  Another pretty cool day for Laredo.

We’ve all been waiting for this!  Soon, the Fall weather will take us straight into the refreshing low nineties!  Doesn’t matter-  IT IS FALL!

This triggered an idea to do an early Fall-inspired project.  We did mosaics using items right out of the pantry.  Super easy and fun.

The materials we used:

  • Cardboard or Tagboard (to put on the back of the picture)
  • Picture(s) to decorate
  • Empty egg cartons
  • paint brush(es)
  • Glue
  • Decorating grains/flakes:  pasta, rice, nuts, seeds, coffee beans

We used:  (From top left to right)  Birdseed, Coffee Beans, White Rice and coconut flakes, brown rice and Grape Nuts cereal.

Step 1:  Gather the materials.  The egg carton is great for holding the mosaic grains as shown in the pic above.  The top half makes a great central glue station.  I taped up the holes to prevent glue leakage on the table.

Step 2:  Use the paint brushes to brush the glue on.  Sprinkle the grains.  Show the kids how to press the grains to set.  They’ll have to arrange and press things like the coffee beans flat-side down.  The Grape Nuts were kind of a challenge.  Won’t use those again.  🙂

And THAT’s IT!

Mine is the maple leaf in the middle.  I just love my daughter’s double-leaves.   My son’s (bottom) sparse mosaic cracks me up.  He didn’t cover much paper, but it occupied him for quite awhile and he had a lot of fun.

If you do a grain mosaic, send some pics into

I’ll upload them to the Critters And Crayons Facebook Fan Page!

Happy Crafting.  Hope it’s good.  But, if it’s not.  That’s okay.