It's almost the end of November which means Christmas is right around the corner. A time when families are busy participating in traditions and making memories. We have quite a few Advent and Christmas traditions that we have accumulated through the years. In our family, we desire to focus on Jesus, the reason for the season, so all our activities revolve around Him. There are popular traditions we do not participate in, putting up a Christmas tree and having the children believe in Santa are a couple of them. Which of course means we have never had an elf visiting us and hanging out on our shelves. However, I discovered that my children really enjoyed the idea of a little friend that comes to visit when we had a homeschool elf stop by on the first day of school.
Enter Melk the Christmas Monkey by Katie Hornor from Paradise Praises.
Melk the Christmas Monkey is a book meant to go along with a cute stuffed friend for the Christmas season. You could choose to use a different animal friend to be Melk or even adapt the activities in the book to be used with a Christmas friend you already have. As we have never done anything like this before, I opted for purchasing a little monkey. I was fortunate to find one all dressed for the Christmas season with a red hat and scarf. If you aren't sure where to find a suitable friend, a few options have been suggested on the Paradise Praises site. With this little monkey and the book in hand or... well... on my computer as I was provided the ebook version for review, I was ready to introduce Melk into our family traditions.
The book is arranged so that each day is a lesson in learning about God's character and how He is involved in our lives. The children will discover Melk each morning as described in the beginning of that day's lesson. He might be surrounded by craft materials, or be getting ready to make a snack. There are times he may even be stuck in quite the predicament. Along with Melk the children will find a letter that he wrote to them, explaining what he is up to, what they are going to do that day, and the Bible verse(s) that explain how this relates to the character trait of God that is being learned that day. Here is a sample of a daily lesson.
In large red letters, we are told what we are going to be doing on that particular day. Then there are the following sections:
- Melk- Which describes how the parent is to arrange Melk for the children to find.
- Activity- Tells the parent the specific activity including a link to any needed resource.
- Materials- Lists the needed supplies needed for the activity.
- Lesson- Explains what we are learning about God.
- Scripture- The entire Scripture passage is printed out from the King James Version
Next to this inset lesson you will find, again in red lettering, the character trait of God that is being learned in the lesson, along with a dictionary definition of the word. Under that, a picture has been provided showing an example of how Melk could be found. Finally, at the bottom of the page, a copy of the letter from Melk to the children is provided. This can be read directly from the lesson or the printable letters in the Appendix can be used. Here is a sample of those printable Melk letters:
These letters print out 2 per page. And you can opt to print the logo on the back. There are letters provided for each of the 30 lessons, plus an optional "goodbye" letter. In addition to the lessons and the letters, there are many resources provided for recipes, craft directions, book suggestions and other activities. The links to these are all found in the book.
We had one week with Melk before he had to leave. The reason we had such a short time was because we are reviewing the book before Advent starts, so I wrote an extra letter for the children from Melk where he told them he was visiting to see if our family was the right place for him to spend his Advent with.
Melk was found outside our door, after I received a phone call that he was here.
We welcomed him into our home and found a basket seat he could relax in. Then we read his letter.
We discovered that he is nocturnal, so he would be active at night. He is also a mute monkey who communicates through his letters. He is very sensitive and doesn't like to be touched, so only mommy and daddy are supposed to be moving him. The children were so excited to have Melk here. They worked on making a tent for him to sleep in, which was Amelia's idea.
The first day he was here he gave us a coloring sheet of himself to color. These coloring sheets are one of the many resources that are linked to in the book, though there is a 99 cent charge for them.
When they were done coloring, Harold stopped by Melk's tent to give him the picture, then the girls followed suit.
Each morning when the children woke up, the found Melk ready to play with them. They did have to remember not to touch him, something Harold had a hard time with. The first day we found him on our dining table, ready to make a craft. The second day he was waiting on the stove to make a snack. On day 3 he was stuck because he had tried getting on the couch to hide the last candy cane. The next day he was again on the table ready to make a different craft.
Each day Tabitha or I would read the letter. Then we would have breakfast before doing the activity. However, as soon as we were done eating, we cleaned up and did the activity so Melk could go back to sleep. He hung out with us in his basket.
Through the week, we made star ornaments out of pipe cleaners and S'mores Bites for snack. We went on a candy cane hunt. And on the last day, we made a candy cane wreath to give as a gift to a friend.
At the end of the week Melk wrote them all letters, grabbed his belonging, and headed out to where ever little Christmas Monkeys go. I have it on great authority that he enjoyed spending time with our family and will be back on the first day of Advent.
The children absolutely enjoyed spending time with Melk. They had a blast finding him each morning and spending time with him before he went down for his "nap." They understand that he has to sleep during the day seeing as daddy works nights. In fact, there were times Tabitha went a little overboard, trying to get her younger siblings to be quiet so he could sleep. Daddy explained that regular day-to-day noise would not bother Melk, but they should refrain from being too loud, jumping around and screaming.
The older girls did realize that mommy was the one setting everything up and printing out the letters. I'm not sure about Hannah and Harold though. All I know is, they love Melk and can't wait for him to come back. In fact, little Harold asks, "Where's Melk?" several times a day. To them, he is a real friend.
Mommy loves that Melk focuses on God's character traits and that the focus of Melk is teaching about God and helping out, not getting into mischief. We are getting to make fun crafts, try new recipes and just have a fun time with activities. When Sunday rolls around we will be bringing out our normal Advent activities and adding in a new tradition. I love that we are going to focus even more on God and his character this year.
The ebook itself contains 30 lessons which means if you start on the first Sunday on Advent you will not need all the lessons. This works well for us because there are some lessons we would be unable to do, such as the lesson where they sleep under the Christmas tree. I could also see combining some of the lessons if you would like to complete them all. For instance, there are several that involved candy canes. I could see going on a candy cane hunt while learning if we seek God we will find him, and then using the candy canes to make a wreath while remembering that God gives good gifts.
You can purchase the Melk the Monkey ebook from Paradise Praises for $11.97. For an additional $4, you can also receive monthly emails from Melk with new Bible lessons. The coloring pages can be purchased for 99 cents. Don't forget, you will have to purchase your own monkey or use a friend you already have. It is recommended that the friend is easy to pose.
If you are looking for a way to keep Christ in Christmas and learn more about God while having a fun-filled creative Advent season, I would highly recommend Melk the Christmas Monkey.
Disclosure: I received the Melk the Monkey ebook from Katie Hornor and Paradise Praises in exchange for my honest review. I received no further compensation. This did not in any way influence my review. I only recommend products I use personally and feel will be a good products for my readers.