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Growing Great Families Advent Calendar Review by Cindy West

The Growing Great Families Interactive Family Advent Calendar is an 8 ½ x 11" piece of cardstock with little perforated doors that open to reveal a PIN code for each day of December. Each day you go to the website and enter the PIN code to find several holiday related activities to do with your family. Activities include:

  • A short story to read
  • A coloring sheet to print
  • An online video game
  • An online puzzle
  • A joke
  • A craft
  • A recipe
  • Lyrics to a Christmas carol
  • A short bit of information about something related to Christmas, such as the poinsettia
  • A simple tip to help simplify the Christmas season
  • Information about (and a link to) the charity of the day

Many of the activities are link-based. In other words, when you click on the graphic for the online video game of the day, you will be sent to a game somewhere else already on the Internet. The graphics that aren't link-based pop up in another window, where you either read the information on the computer or print it out.

I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed for two reasons. First, this is a completely secular program. Although, there is nothing that I found to be against my Christian beliefs, there was also nothing that supported the entire reason I celebrate Advent in my home--preparing our hearts for the birth of Christ. Many of the activities related to the topic of snow (sledding, snowmen, cutting snowflakes, etc.), and there were some references to Santa.

Secondly, since everything is linked, there is nothing in the parent's hands before the calendar door is opened. So if I want to make sure I have ingredients for the recipe or supplies for the craft, I'm out of luck unless I want to open the door ahead of time and spoil the fun of that job for my children.

On a positive note, my ten-year-old son really enjoyed the links to most of the online games since this is right up his alley. However, I could've located most of these games on my own if I had wanted.

If your five to twelve-year-old children are craving fun and simple things to do during the month of December, the computer time and activities suggested in this calendar are worthwhile time fillers. But if you're already struggling to fit everything into the whirlwind of a month, I would recommend spending your Advent time focusing on the Lord and activities centering on Him instead.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2010