N is for Nativity

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This post is for letter “N” in the ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series. It was written by Meg from Adventures with Jude.

I love collecting Nativity sets.  My most prized creche is an olivewood set that hubby and I purchased at a Bethlehem gift shop on our honeymoon.  Every year, it is placed up high where little hands can’t reach it, but sometimes just being “off limits” makes it more interesting.  This arts-and-crafts set is kept down low where little hands can gently touch. It was the perfect craft to make as we read one of our favorite Nativity stories –  This is the Stable.

This is our book.  We got ours through a Scholastic link that supported Matthew & Celia’s school.   However, it can be purchased directly from  Amazon.  It has soft watercolor pictures and a gentle rhythm that retells the story of Christ’s birth with the shelter provided by the stable as the center.


Materials for the craft include:

a small cardboard packing box (you need something with attached flaps)

cardboard paper towel rolls*

craft felt

pipe cleaners (chenille stems)

popsicle sticks (wooden craft sticks)



We used a Sharpie.  I think that was Jude’s favorite part.  Sharpies are generally VERY well guarded in this house.  (I wonder why?)

*Note: For cardboard rolls, you can use either paper towel rolls and cut them in half for Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, or you can use shorter toilet paper rolls.  If you choose to make the guarding angels, you will need at least two taller “paper towel height” rolls.   Total count is 4 paper towel rolls OR 3 toilet paper and 2+ paper towel rolls.

First, we built  “…the stable, dusty and brown, in a quiet corner of Bethlehem town.

Cut one of the box flaps so it is a triangle shape.

Glue on the craft sticks. We started out with an overlapping herringbone pattern, but then slid them into a “just touching” position.  (Jude didn’t care for overlapping — then they didn’t lay perfectly flat.)
Set the stable aside to let dry.

Next came
…the mother, her manner so mild, singing and rocking her newborn child…
…her husband, patient and wise, guarding his family with watchful eyes…”



Cut a paper towel roll in two.  If they’re uneven, that’s perfect — the smaller one can be used to make the Blessed Mother and the taller one for St. Joseph.


Cover the smaller roll in felt.Cut a piece of felt as tall as your roll, cover in glue, and roll the fabric over the cardboard, overlapping the back seam slightly.  Trim edges if necessary.

The beautiful illustrations in the book dress her in purples and oranges, but we chose blue, the traditional color for Mary’s garments.

Add her face.  Cut an oval for her head, and use the marker to add features.  Glue it about an inch from the top of the roll.


 Glue on another piece of blue felt for her veil, covering the opening of the roll.  A thin yellow pipe cleaner doubles as a way to hold everything in place as the glue dries AND as her halo. (Once you tie the halo, trim the end and save it to use to make Baby Jesus’ halo.)

Repeat for St. Joseph, this time using brown and orange felt. He has a blue headband AND a yellow halo.

You don’t have to vary the halo thicknesses — we just made Mary’s thinner and more dainty, and St. Joseph’s thicker and masculine.


…the baby born that night
in the stable marked by the star so bright,
A baby boy, who cooed and cried
and looked around with eyes so wide.
Then, cuddled and swaddled, he laid his head
on the soft, sweet hay in his manger bed
and slept in the stable in Bethlehem town,
the quiet stable, dusty and brown.”

Cut another towel roll in half (or use a toilet paper roll).  Cut this smaller piece in half lengthways so you have two half circles.  Glue the pieces together “back to back” – so that one forms the base and the other the cradle of the manger.


Cut a craft stick in half. Wrap in a small piece of white felt. Add Baby Jesus’ face.


Line the manger with a scrap of yellow felt, add the Baby’s halo (leftover from Mary’s), and lay him in the manger.  (If you prefer to wait until Christmas eve, line the manger and leave it empty, tucking the Baby figurine someplace where he won’t get lost.)

By now the stable roof should be fairly dry, so you can go back and finish the stable.

Cut out a felt star
…the star whose light shown down on the quiet stable, dusty and brown…”

and place it on the peak of the roof.
By now, your stable is complete. Unless your child looks at it, decides the Holy Family needs more light, and chooses to add…


…windows …


…and skylights…

A sharp knife is easiest for cutting out these.  (Unless you have a big kid, this is a job for a grownup.)

Of course, every Nativity set needs some angels.  Using two (or more) paper towel rolls, cover in white felt like you did Mary and Joseph, add faces and halos.  Cut yellow triangles and glue to their backs for wings.

We set up our Nativity scene on the top of the piano.

Ladies first…


Mother and Child.

Angels stand guard…



“With the coo of a dove, for a lullaby,
the little one slumbered, with barely a cry,
safe in the warmth of light and love,
while all through the night, in the heavens above,
the angels sang and the star shown down,
on the quiet stable in Bethlehem town,
the quiet stable, dusty and brown.”
From our family to yours, 
may you have a Blessed Christmas,
and may the world find the peace that was born so many years ago
 in Bethlehem town, in a quiet stable, dusty and brown.


About Meg:

Meg is a city girl from Philadelphia transplanted to a 19-acre farm in the Garden State of New Jersey. She started college wanting to be a pediatrician, but ultimately graduated with a BA in theater, a minor in English, and her best friend and husband, Neal. The Lord has a strange way of arranging life – they have five children, each with multiple medical issues that stump even their wicked-genius doctors, so Meg has learned more about medicine than she ever expected! Because of her children’s needs, she is passionate about educating people about mental health and food allergies. She homeschools three children between the pick up and drop off for two others, and blogs about it all at Adventures with Jude. You can also find her at Facebook and  Twitter, and her favorite social media site, Pinterest.

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Hi, there! I’m Heather Bowen, and I am so glad you’re here.

My passion lies in helping homeschool moms balance marriage, motherhood, homemaking, and homeschooling all while remaining sane!

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