DIY Countdown Calendar

Ok, you are heading into the Winter Break homestretch!  Yay!  But many of the students seem to believe that Santa is coming tomorrow!  No!  And their excitement is bubbling over into your lessons making it a tad difficult to get teaching across.  How about an idea to at least keep them reminded of the days until Break?

I actually made this fun Advent calendar for my nieces, who are of preschool age and were highly upset after decorating for Christmas, watching some holiday movies, and waking the next morning to find…nothing.  They didn’t understand the concept of time well enough to know we are still a month away from the big day!  I originally saw this fabulous idea on FamilyFun’s Facebook page, and knew right away that it might help them understand better with a visual.  Here are the directions for the set I made, but as you will note in the directions, you can also adapt this same idea to the classroom and I have some freebies below for you to do just that!

Supplies Needed:

  • Metal Muffin Tin (depending on how many days you need and what you want to place inside, it can be 12 or 24 spots.  I used 12 for my example because I have 3 nieces who all needed a little prize for each day and the 24 cup one was too small inside, but if you are placing the reward slips of paper instead for a whole class, grab the 24 cup version so it all fits on one.)
  • Adhesive Magnet Paper (first-choice) or Magnets for the back of business cards (if you can’t find the other)
  • Cardstock
  • Printed Numbers posted below (and laminated if you wish for them to last longer)
  • A Large Nail and Hammer
  • Ribbon
  • Prizes or Reward Slips of your choice (also posted below)
  • Scissors
  • Optional:  A Scrapbooking Hole Punch in the corresponding size of the diameter of one of your muffin tin cups


1.  Start by adding 2 holes to one end of the muffin tin.  Just place the nail over the spot where you want the hole, and tap it with the hammer (not all the way in).  It will create a hole for you.

2.  String your ribbon through the hole and tie a knot in the back to keep it secured.  You now have a handle that can be used to hang up your creation on the wall!

3.  Print off the number cards.  I have included both the 3″ large numbers (for the 12-cup pans) and the smaller 2″ numbers (for the 24-cup pans).  Laminate if you like.

4.  If you have adhesive magnetic paper:  Peel off the backing, and add your page of numbers.  Make sure it is securely attached.  Use a scrapbook hole punch in the corresponding size to cut out your new magnetic numbers!  Super easy!  Move on to number seven.

5.  If you could not find magnetic paper (they were completely out everywhere I checked in my town), use your business card magnets and place your already cut out numbers on the backing and trace the shape.  Use your scissors to cut out your shape.

6.  Peel off the back and attach to the backside of the numbers.  It serves our purpose fine!

7.  Place all your numbers on the muffin tin in the correct place so you can see it put all together!

8.  Last, insert prizes or reward slips into the cups for your students (or own children).  Take them out to share on the appropriate day of the month!  For my nieces’ version, I placed candy, coins, and other small trinkets in the calendar.  For a classroom, I would use the reward slips below.  Cut the strips apart, roll up like a pinwheel, and place inside the cups.  If you students have earned the reward for that day (maybe cut them a little slack – lol) take off the number and celebrate!

Hopefully your students will enjoy this fun calendar as much as you will after it is created!  If nothing else, it will serve as a nice visual for knowing how many days of LEARNING are still left in 2012.    How else could you use this project in your classroom?  We would love to hear even more ideas in the comments below!