How to create an online Advent calendar
I love this time of year, it comes with such wonderful anticipation of things to come. A time to be mindful.
You can build some of that anticipation into your classroom with a digital advent calendar that reveals something each day in preparation for the holiday season. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, “coming.” In Christian traditions, this refers to God’s coming into our midst. Anastasis is a faith-based school, so the advent calendar I created for our students and families is to be in celebration of this coming. Your classroom advent calendar doesn’t have to be faith-based.
Your advent calendar could be in anticipation of the coming new year, the coming break from school, or just a fun way to surprise your students with something they get to reveal each day. It would even be fun to reveal some sort of “Mission Impossible” task each day for your students. Be creative! This could be related to something they are learning/working on in your classroom, a kindness challenge, a video of the day, a writing prompt for the day, brain teaser, a book/poem/website for the day, a peek into your classroom for families, inquiry question of the day, song/podcast, 25 days of science experiments, etc. Even as adults we enjoy moments of anticipation, why not capitalize on that in your classroom?
I used Weebly to create our digital advent calendar. You can follow our calendar here. Weebly is an easy to use, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builder. It makes it simple to quickly put together a site that you can easily edit in preparation for the next day of revealed surprise. Weebly also lets you include a nice variety of content so that it is flexible enough to meet your needs. I started December first with some text and an image. My plan is to take a video each day of our students sharing a verse, quote, thought, blessing, song, etc. and embed the video using the YouTube option. The only thing for me to do each day will be to take the video and upload it to our Anastasis YouTube channel and then copy the url into the Weebly image for the day. SO easy to keep up with each day!
How to build your own Weebly Advent Calendar:
Sign up for a free Weebly account
Choose a template to start with for your calendar. Any of the templates will work, choose the look you like best!
Start by dragging some text onto your page. This is a great place for a few sentences about your calendar and what students/families can expect to find each day.
Under the “Structure” section, select and drag over the “Columns” onto your page. I chose 5 columns. Repeat so that you have multiple rows of 5 columns. I have a total of 5 for 5 rows and 5 columns.
Into each row and column, drag over the “Image” option so that you have 25 image place holders.
I used Apple’s Pages software to create my daily images with the dates listed on them. I used some digital paper, layered a solid box of color, and two text boxes. I took a screenshot of each date (I just created one image and then changed the text for each screenshot).
Back in Weebly, click on the image placeholder to upload the images created (alternately, you can just use the search option to find images to use). Repeat for each image.
Create a new page (under the Pages tab a the top of the Weebly screen). Be sure to check the box so that the page is hidden from navigation. This is going to be your “come back on the appropriate day” page. Click “Save and Edit.”
On your new page, add some text and an image. Type a greeting message from those who are trying to sneak a peek early.
Navigate back to your home page. Click on each image, an edit box for the image will come up. Select “Link” and choose “Standard Page” and then the page you just created. Save.
Create other pages for your site if you would like to, I created an “About” page for those who are curious about Anastasis. It might be fun to include a “contact” page where students can submit ideas for the calendar (maybe original writing or other work?)
Publish your site.
Each day go back and click on the image for the appropriate day. From the edit box, go back to “Link” and change where the image links to. It can link to another page that you create on the Weebly site, a website or video, a file, or an email address (what if your students got a new email address each day to email an encouraging note to?). Alternatively, you can delete the image for that day all together and embed a video, html, flash, etc.
Don’t forget to re-publish after you’ve added/edited the site!
There is something truly wonderful about revealing a surprise each day. Don’t leave the families of your students out, it would be great to give families a glimpse of your classroom so that they can see what there kids are up to each day. This can be photos, original student writing, video, or fun activities to be completed as a family in lieu of homework.
Students can also be in charge of creating their own advent calendar. The possibilities for this are endless!
What great ideas do you have for using an advent calendar in your classroom? Share them below!