Monday, November 16, 2015

GUEST POST: 8 Nativity Activities to Teach Little Ones about Christmas

Author and Friend, Laura Sassi

It is my great delight to feature words from a friend this week! Laura Sassi has a background in education, and we'll all benefit from her teaching and fun-loving spirit in this post! Thank you, Laura, for encouraging us to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with our children - just in time for early planning this year! #5 and #8 are my favorite!

This post is in honor of Laura's new book, Goodnight, Manger. In the story, baby Jesus is having a hard time going to sleep with all of the manger commotion! It is a companion to her first book, Goodnight, Ark, which I reviewed on my blog. Both are already beloved favorites of my children, and after reading Laura's post, be sure to register to win a free copy of her new, soon-to-be hit!

Laura writes:

One of my favorite Christmas memories is of watching my daughter play with the Baby Jesus that was part of our Christmas nativity. All through December she’d carry him around the house saying things like, “Baby Jesus crying. It’s okay, Baby.” Then she’d gently feed him or rock him and sing a lullaby. Before listening to her tender play, I’d never thought of Baby Jesus as ever crying, but that sweet playtime sparked a great little conversation with my daughter about the divinity and humanity of Jesus. It also inspired me to write Goodnight, Manger, a Christmas bedtime picture book that not only serves as a fun reminder that Jesus was once a baby who cried and felt everything we feel, but which also keeps Christ, rather than Santa, as the focus during the holiday season. 

Now in celebration of the release of Goodnight, Manger, here are 8 ways parents can use nativity sets to spark meaningful conversations about Christmas with preschoolers.

1. Play “I Spy…an angel!” Identify the figures in the Christmas story using the nativity as your playground. After you “spy” each figure, ask simple questions like “Who was Mary?” or “What were the shepherds doing that night?”

2. Play “I Count… three sheep!” Preschoolers love counting. After each count, think about how everyone in the nativity was looking forward to meeting Baby Jesus. Ask them what they think about that.

3. Play “Where is Baby Jesus?” In this variation of hide and seek, take turns hiding Baby Jesus in the nativity (or beyond). Each time you find Him, marvel about how exciting it must have been to see God’s promise for a Savior fulfilled in the birth of a special baby - Jesus!

4. Re-enact the Nativity. Using Luke 2:1-20 as your guide, re-enact the Christmas story using the figurines. Add animal sounds and alleluias to bring the story to life. For extra fun, you can also retell your nativity-themed picture books (such as Goodnight, Manger, for example) using figurines. Be sure to always link back to the all important message that Jesus is the gift of Christmas.  

5. Sing Carols. While holding the appropriate figurines, sing carols that relate to the nativity story.  For example, pretend the angels are flying as you sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Have the wise men march as you sing “We Three Kings." Place Baby Jesus in the manger as you sing “Away in a Manger,” etc.

6. Care for Baby Jesus. Just as my daughter did, let your child take care of Baby Jesus. Pretend to gently rock and feed him. Maybe even sing him a tender lullaby. Then be amazed together - that God loves us just like we love little babies. He cares for us and comforts us. His biggest gift ever? Sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world.

7. Make your own nativity figurines. Little ones love anything hands on, so roll up your sleeves and make sheep, shepherds, angels and more using whatever materials you fancy. Play dough, felt, glue, paper, crayons and even blocks are all perfect materials for a fun afternoon of nativity building. 

8. Go on a Nativity Hunt. Here’s a fun activity that will get you and your children outside on a crisp day. Walk around your neighborhood looking for nativity lawn scenes. Name the figures you see and celebrate! This also makes a good activity to keep children busy and engaged while running errands in the car.

Register below or click here to win your free copy of Laura's book. The contest ends on Sunday at noon EST. Please note that if you don't win, you can still buy Laura's book (and other amazing resources) at a discount on between November 17th and December 1st. Just enter the bloggers' code CHRISTMAS2015 at checkout. It's a special code for 30% off that I am delighted to pass on along to my friends!


  1. I'm enjoying Laura's blog tour. These are great activities.

    1. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment, Penny! I agree, the activities are wonderful. I can't wait to try them this year. I'm also thankful for Laura's delightful book!


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