By Cheryl Gabbert

Let's celebrate the Advent season! This is part two of a five-part multicultural holiday unit series for the kindergarten classroom. Kindergarten teachers looking for hands-on ideas across the curriculum for the winter holidays will find these ideas very useful.

Advent is a time of observing the coming Christmas holiday, Jesus' Birth, and is celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox Christians throughout the world. The observance of Advent has its roots in ancient times. Advent means "coming," referring to the coming of Christ.

The season of Advent is four weeks before Christmas.

• Advent calendars are commonly used as a "countdown" to Christmas. Small toys or candies are placed inside little doors or windows, and one door is opened each day to count the days till Christmas.
• The advent wreath counts down the weeks left until Christmas, starting with the fourth Sunday before Christmas. An advent wreath contains 4 candles, 3 purple, and 1 pink. Purple signifies penitence and fasting in preparation for the coming of a King. The pink candle is for the third Sunday (also known as the Sunday of Joy). A candle is lit on the advent wreath during the Sunday evening meal. This candle will be lit every evening during the evening meal in many cases. Each week an additional candle is lit, until the last Sunday before Christmas, when all four candles burn. A portion of the Christmas story may be told each week and a devotional completed as part of the observance.

Circle Time:

Letter of the day: A is for Advent

Make a large poster of a Christmas tree. Glue miniature candy canes labeled with a number on the tree, counting the days till Christmas. Glue the candy canes on the tree, and start counting the days until Christmas as a circle time activity. Give the candy cane to the leader of the day.

Cognitive Center Activity:

Objective: building memory skills through matching

Play an advent matching game. Make an advent board with 25 openings. Place pairs of matching cards throughout the board. Children open two doors at a time trying to get a match. The object is to get the most matches. Two players at a time is best. Place this game at the center on Advent Day.

Math:

Objective: Counting backward from 25 to 1.

Make a Christmas tree from green construction paper (one for each child). Print 25 small circles on red construction paper for each child. The kids will write a number from 1-25 on each circle. They will glue an ornament on the tree, starting from the ball labeled 25, then 24, 23.... all the way to 1. Explain that advent calendars work this way, to help us see how many days until Christmas. Advent calendars are a fun way to count down the days to the winter holidays.

Science:

Objective: Dressing appropriately for the winter season.

This could be a center activity. Place a box of different types of clothes in a center. The child will choose an outfit and outerwear that would be appropriate for winter. Mix in some bathing suits, sunglasses, a rain coat, and other "trick" items. Be sure to include gloves, a scarf, and winter boots.

Art:

Make an advent wreath. This is a really easy craft. Using a paper plate, cut out a circle in the center so that you have a wreath form. Have the children cut out green leaves from construction paper. Glue the leaves around the paper plate. Next, cut out some construction paper candles and yellow flames. Glue these to the wreath.