Parents | Raising readers & learners.

Home of Parent & Child Magazine

Scholastic Parents: Raise a Reader

Turn Candy Into Conversation With This Advent Calendar Add-On

Vocabulary is important, and finding new ways to teach new words in fun ways like this only helps.
on December 08, 2016

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on November 19, 2014.

We have tried many different types of advent calendars at our house, but the one we always come back to is the simple check-out line chocolate variety. My kids like simple. They also like candy. My wallet likes simple, and I don't mind them eating candy. But allowing them to eat chocolate every day for several weeks became a great opportunity to add in something different to our holiday ritual: new words.

Not to worry. This idea doesn't mean you'll need to buy a new, fancy advent calendar. Or create a whole new one. Instead, it's a simple add-on to whatever kind of advent calendar you're using in your house. At our home this is how the new ritual goes: each day in, before my kids search for the little window on our calendar, they must first pick a new word card out of our homemade holiday word jar. They then read the word aloud, and use it properly in a sentence or find and read its definition from the dictionary. Then, as a reward, they get their chocolates.

It's a compromise, but one that comes with the pretty rad benefits of improving their vocabularly, which is important. Sneaking in new words in fun ways like this only helps.

Below is a list of holiday-themed words you can choose from. I am NOT including the definition on the list because that is part of the game. 

Don't stop there, though. While they chow down on the little chocolates, talk to them about the word. Use it in a sentence or two, and pop the word on the fridge so that later in the day you can slip it into conversation to keep the learning going.

Here is our suggested list:

  1.  Advent
  2. Poinsettia
  3. Creche
  4. Kwanzaa
  5. Frankincense
  6. Fervor  
  7. Menorah
  8. Illumination
  9. Dreidel
  10. Observance
  11. Manger
  12. Jerusalem
  13. Sacred
  14. Boughs
  15. Proclaim
  16. Rejoice
  17. Tranquility
  18. Magi
  19. Symbol
  20. Trimmings
  21. Reverence
  22. Whimsy
  23. Worship
  24. Yuletide
  25. Humility
  26. Candles
  27. Nativity
  28. Synagogue

This is a suggested list - yours can be any holiday-themed words you prefer. After you know which ones you want to use, write them on strips of colored paper and pop them in a jar. Enjoy the conversations they strike up and the new words your children will learn this holiday season.

How do you incorporate new words into your children's vocabularies? Tell us about it on the Scholastic Parents Facebook Page.

Featured Photo Credit: © nastenkapeka/Thinkstock


Check out bloggers Amy Mascott and Allie McDonald's book, Raising a Rock-Star Reader: 75 Quick Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love for Reading. Get expert advice and learn new strategies for your young readers.




About this blog

In the Raise a Reader blog, get advice, tips, and resources from our expert contributors on helping your child read at every age and stage. Each week, find book recommendations, literacy activities, and more to spark your reader's interests.

Blogs We Love

Play and learning ideas for kids of all ages.
Literacy resources to reach all growing readers.

Find Just-Right Books