Advent Angels - Helping children explore gratitude

Share a little love this Advent Season with these adorable Advent Angels. Not only do these angels make beautiful gifts, they also offer children an opportunity to explore gratitude & giving.
How often do we thank people, or let them know how special they are to us? Advent is the perfect season to take some timeout to do just that, & these angels are an ideal way to say thank you to those 'angels' in our life. This activity is a lovely way for young children to explore appreciation & thankfulness as they think about those who make a difference in their own lives. They could choose who they would like to make an angel for & why. What are the qualities that make a person special? How do they make a difference & how do they make people feel?  

To make our Advent Angels we used homemade white clay, a small 5cm angel cookie cutter (similar to this one) & drinking straws.

To make our white clay we added the following ingredients to a large saucepan;
2 cups of bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, 1 cup of cornflour/cornstarch, 1 & half cups of cold water.

Heat the saucepan over a medium heat & keep stirring the mixture. After a few minutes it will begin to bubble & thicken. Continue to stir the mixture until it starts to look like mashed potato, then take off the heat & add the mixture to a clean bowl. Place a damp tea towel over the bowl to prevent the clay from drying out & allow it to cool. After 30mins or so check the temp & if the clay is cool enough you can start to knead it & roll it out. I sprinkle a very small amount of cornflour onto the surface before rolling out just to prevent it sticking.
Once the clay has been rolled out, cut the angel shapes with the cookie cutter & place them on a clean baking sheet. We used a small heart shape cutter to decorate the centre of some of our angels, & you could easily add other small shapes & patterns if desired. To make the hole for the ribbon push a drinking straw into the clay & gently remove.

You can bake the clay in a cool oven for a quick result, but we've found when we've done this in the past the clay tends to crack, so we leave our clay shapes to air-dry on a baking tray (somewhere safe) for 24 hours, turning the clay angels over a couple of times so both sides dry evenly.

Once completely dry you can start to thread your chosen ribbon or string through the hole & your angels are ready to share!

Why not hang them on a neighbour's door as a surprise gift, or give them to special people as Advent decorations. Minnie tied tiny labels to her angels with a little 'thank you' note that she'd written. Alternatively you could attach an Advent blessing.
This is an ideal activity for Advent & we found it offered Minnie space to reflect & think about those special people in her life, whether they be family or people in our wider community. In the busy run up to Christmas these little angles have offered us a moment to pause & reflect on those things that really matter, & have given us an opportunity to show our appreciation & love to those who make a difference in our lives.
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