Third Week of Advent: The Light of Animals

The third Light of Advent, It is the light of beasts:
The Light of faith that we may see In greatest and in least.

I've written before about our slow journey to creating family rituals and celebrations. We took a year off of pretty much everything last year as we focused on moving. So it was with renewed enthusiasm that we dove in this year. In some sense, we're taking all of December "off" from most of our usual homeschool activities so that we can focus on the winter festivals. But, that preparation and celebration is so in keeping with what we do for schooling anyway; it all really flows together.

During yesterday's dinner we lighted the third candle in our advent spiral, signaling the beginning of the week in which we honor the animal kingdom.

In the past we've made bird seed feeders and strung popcorn as treats for our outdoor animal friends during this week and we do plan to do that again this year as well. I wanted to add a bit of handwork, though, and to create something to add to our winter garden.

Over the past year Silas has gathered a ridiculous number of snail shells from our yard (a good head's up as we plan our first garden, no?). We got them out, along with a few he gathered at nature school and a couple from our collection of treasures from the sea and gave them a good scrubbing. Then we warmed up some modeling beeswax in bowls of hot water and he made some little snails to live in them.

This is the first time that we've set up a full display for advent and it's been so much fun for us all to watch the space come to life as we add to it over these December days and weeks. We started with just the green silk. On the Sunday of the first week, the week of minerals, Silas chose stones, crystals, shells, and bones (yes, bones! It's amazing what you find in pockets) and arranged them all just so.

On the first of December we added the star path - 25 stars to countdown Mother Mary's journey to the stable. The first thing Silas does every morning is to move Mary and her donkey one star closer and then count how many stars are left until Christmas. Our stars were made from clementine rinds, a cookie cutter, and a hammer.

The space really came alive the following week as we celebrated the plant kingdom. We potted some new plants just for the occasion and made a few things as well. Out came the orange and clove pomanders we made two years ago and they are still incredibly fragrant! We made two little Christmas trees by dripping green beeswax onto pine cones and Silas made little hedgehogs out of teasel seed heads (which we gathered on a nature walk this fall) with three black-headed straight pins for the eyes and nose.

The stable is re-purposed from our very first project at the beginning of this school year. Silas built it from sticks that he gathered, measured, cut down to size, and adhered together with clay he dug himself from our backyard. It was an amazing project that he attacked with enthusiasm. Not every week since then has been so idyllic, but it was a wonderful way to kick off our kindy year.

After he placed his snail creations, he had fun going through all the wooden animals to choose who got to come to the party in the winter garden. He wanted the fox to be hiding and ready to pounce on some prey. Hmmmm. I'm pretty sure that peace prevails in the winter garden, kiddo. Lions and lambs and all that.

Next week we celebrate humankind. I hope you're enjoying this holiday season as well!

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