This post is part of my ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series. To see all posts in the series, click here.
Creating a nativity scene is one of the most beautiful ways to visually bring the story of Christmas into your home. As a family, we’ve created a simple wooden Nativity set that we keep up year round, as well as a Jesse Tree specifically for Advent which culminates in the Nativity scene with Christ’s birth.
Not wanting to miss out on the fun of decorating a ginger bread house, we bought a kit at the store and – with a little creativity (and a lot of fun) – turned it into a nativity scene! This project is great for kids (and adults) of any age, and gives children a chance to practice fine motor skills, sensory skills, and creative thinking, all while learning more about the meaning of Christmas.
Target Age: Pre-K and above
Lesson Objective: Learn about the birth of Christ by creating a 3D nativity scene. Based on age, parents can tailor the lesson to include: identifying the people that were there at Jesus’s birth, discussing those that visited soon after, learning about the animals that would have been in a manger, etc.
- children’s or family Bible
- gingerbread house kit
- shredded coconut
- yellow food coloring
- nativity set pieces (that are ok to play with)
Introduction: Read the birth of Christ story (Luke 2:1-40) from your family or age appropriate Bible.
- To make hay: In a large Ziploc bag, add one cup of shredded coconut, ½ tsp water, and a few drops of food coloring. Shake to evenly coat coconut and turn it yellow. Pour the bag out onto a plate and let the coconut dry.
- To make nativity scene: following the instructions on your gingerbread house kit, construct the house – but instead of putting the front of the house on, leave it open. TIP: I recommend using a glue gun to hold the house together…especially since little fingers aren’t very gentle or adept when it comes time to decorate. You’ll want that structural stability (besides, you wouldn’t eat it after letting it sit out for a few days anyway).
- Decorate your nativity set however you like – it’s ok to add whatever you’d like to make it special! Let it dry overnight, and – the next day – add your nativity set pieces (Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, three wise men, angel, etc.) to the scene. Remember…this is your child’s nativity set, not yours, so let them be as creative, unique, or random as they want! Avoid temptation to “help” too much by getting yourself one you can make, too J
Additional Activities: As you make your nativity, talk about things like:
- How do you think Mary and Joseph felt knowing they were having a baby in a stable / manger?
- What kinds of animals were there? What sounds do those animals make?
- Besides animals, what other kinds of things do you think were in the manger? (you can use household items to add to your nativity set like a matchbox for an animal feeding trough, tissues for the swaddling cloths, etc.)
- What did Mary wrap Jesus in to keep him warm?
- Who were the first people to hear about Jesus’s birth?
- Who were Jesus’s first outsiders to come worship? What gifts did they bring?
Jen Frost is a Catholic quilter and crafter who evangelizes through fabric. She’s a pattern writer, quilt designer, and book author. When she’s not in front of her sewing machine, she can be found at the beach with her husband and son, toes happily buried in the sand. She writes and quilts each week at Faith and Fabric.