One of the things we try to instill in our children is the true meaning of Christmas.
The story of Jesus' birth and why He came to earth and what it means to them.
We also don't want them to drive us bonkers.
I had seen the Elf on the Shelf and I never really got excited by it.
So we found a project that ties nicely in to Christmas while rewarding our children for good behavior.
We made cradles for baby Jesus. We set the cradles in a very visible location in our homes. We let the children know that each time we catch them doing something caring, loving, unselfish, etc they will get to add straw to Jesus' cradle. The goal is to have a cradle full of straw to welcome Jesus on Christmas.
The kids have really loved this. One of our rules is that you don't get straw if you ask for it. We made our cradles from little picket fences Dana had found in our local craft store but I've seen them made from paper towel rolls, too.
We started this craft discussing what a King's bed would look like. It was a great opportunity to talk about the significance of Jesus being born in a manger. We also went over the fruits of the spirit (something we had discussed in length over summer) and the positive attributes that we should display. This was a great lesson for the 6 year old crowd but could definitely be shortened or skipped for the younger crowd.
I don't know if we'll keep the cradle or make another next year (I hate to waste but putting the craft together gave a great basis for discussion). Either way I think this is a great addition to our holiday traditions!