Print and fold this amazing Advent calendar then flex to find each day’s reading. It’s a perfect for Messy Advent or as a giveaway for your youth and families ministry. For schools this makes a fun Christmas craft, with some mathemagic thrown in for good measure – what more could one want?
So what is it?
Technically, it’s a flexagon, a weird mathematical shape that has more sides that any law-abiding piece of paper has a right to.
There are six numbered squares on this side, and six on the back. Hmmn, That’s only 12 days, and there are 24 in Advent. Where are the others?
Fold the sides together like a book, open out at the back and – BOOM! – six new squares appear from the quantum void. (Ignore any accompanying smoke and sulfurous fumes. That’s just latent heat of fusion dissipating.) Flex again and another six squares appear. Amazing!
I think it works by having a black hole at the centre, and there are rumours that NASA is looking into flexagons like this as a form of faster-than-light travel. Seriously, in earlier centuries you’d have been burnt at the stake for stuff like this!
The calendar features the 24 readings from the gospels and Old Testament, telling the traditional Christmas story.
The readings are the same as in the chart-topping Advent devotions Walking to Bethlehem, and the Advent Labyrinth (click here for post). The original labyrinth, along with several bonus extras, is included in the book.
You can use the Flexagon Advent Calendar on its own, or with the book or labyrinth. It’s great for personal or family devotions, or simply as a fun reminder of why we’re scoffing chocolate each day of December.
Here’s a sample of the book Walking to Bethlehem, and the instructions for the Flexagon Advent Calendar are below.
Here’s how to make your Flexagon Advent Calendar. (And here’s a PDF of templates and instructions if you want to put this in a give-away bag.)
You will need:
- Two templates (Click here for PDF)
- Glue stick
- Colouring pens
- Sticky tape
What to do:
- Print out the templates on to white or coloured paper and decorate the squares (or you can colour them each day as you go).
- Cut around the edges and stick the pages back-to-back. Make sure they are both the same way up!
- Fold along the dotted lines running top to bottom. Bend the paper both ways because we want it to be really flexible.
- If you look at the middle rectangle, you will see that there are solid lines around three sides, with a dotted line on one short end. Cut along the solid lines but NOT along the dotted line.
- Put your flexagon on a table with the number 1 in the top left-hand corner.
- Push the middle rectangle through the hole to the left, so that the number 2 square sticks out on the left and there is a rectangle hole in the middle.
- Fold the entire right-hand column underneath, so that you can see number 12 in the hole.
- Fold that column underneath again so that number 21 fills the hole in the middle.
- Take the number 2 square sticking out on the left and fold it over on top so that 5 meets 21 in the middle.
- Join number 5 to number 21 with sticky tape, making sure the tape does not go on any other squares.
How to use it:
Now you are ready to flex! Finding the first reading is easy, but where is number 2?
Hold the flexagon with number 1 at the top left-hand corner and fold the sides together like a book. Gently ease open the back of the book, pulling the sides towards you, and you will find new numbers (4, 20, 12, 8 etc). Look on the back, and there is number 2!
Flex it backwards next – with number 2 facing you, push the sides away and open it in the middle like a book to find number 3. Keep flexing to find all the numbers from 1 to 24.
Here’s a video of me flexing a flexagon (different pictures, same technique).