I don’t care what
El Corte Inglés says,
Christmas for me
starts with the
first window in the
There has always been an advent calendar in my home. Some years it was one of the traditional ones where each window opens up a little picture (still my favorite), other times each window uncovered a piece of chocolate.
My children have a lovely one, shaped like a Christmas tree, with small pockets where each year my mother places small gifts she has gathered throughout the year.
Opening the pockets is one of their favorite things to do during the month of December, and I like to think it’s more than just the gifts, that the little ritual serves as a reminder of our love for them.
Last year, however, I discovered the advent calendar could also help us reinforce a secondary language in our home. So I wanted to share the ways in which the advent calendar, for those families who have one, can become the perfect occasion to:
- Review numbers. Each day, you have an excuse to count from 1 to the applicable day. Forwards and backwards.
- Learn new words. The holiday period has its own language, which includes some simple words and concepts (snow, Christmas tree), and others children might not know in their second language (myrrh? mistletoe?). You can review them day after day, going over the words that have already appeared, including those in the table below.
- Practice verb tenses. When you open the little window, it’s time to speak about what’s showing up today, but also about what you saw yesterday, and what could show up the next day.
- Practice prepositions. Each day, you can take the chance to learn a new preposition. Where is the shepherd? Standing between King Melchior and the mule.
- Tell stories. Each window in the advent calendar is an opportunity to tell a story, with its characters, its plot points and feelings. This, which sounds so simple, can actually be very complex in a secondary language.
For the more adventurous out there, there is also a DIY world of advent calendars, which I’ve personally never explored, though next year I just might.
Examples of applicable vocabulary:
|el árbol de navidad||Chrismas tree|
|el belén||nativity set|
|el copo de nieve||snowflake|
|el muñeco de nieve||snowman|
|el niño Jesús||baby Jesus|
|Papá Noel||Father Chrismas/ Santa Claus|
|los Reyes magos||the Three Kings|