One of my favorite parts of decorating for Christmas is pulling out my nativity scenes. My family has three that we place throughout our house, but my kids’ favorite is a Little People nativity that they chewed on as toddlers, paraded around the house, and hit the sound button on so many times I got sick of hearing “Silent Night,” (something I previously thought wasn’t possible). All of that is part of what they love about their nativity. It allows them to creatively be a part of telling the story of Jesus’s birth.
For the same reason, I love the nativity pieces included in the Imagine level of the Dwell curriculum. Used by the leader to tell the story and for children to help retell the story, they allow your Dwell group to share the Christmas story all season long. Though these pieces are included in year 1 of the Imagine level, anyone with a Dwell Digital subscription can access these printables and use them to create their own nativity scenes. Here’s how:
- Print the pieces on cardstock, making enough copies that each child will have their own set. Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the shepherds are included in two printables located in this session. A Dwell Digital login is required to access these downloads, or you can purchase the paper leader guide for Imagine, year 1, unit 3 as the printable pages are included in that book.
- Have the children color in their nativity pieces, cut them out, and fold them along the line so that they stand up.
- If you want a backdrop, you can combine this idea with the nativity diorama activity in The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Activity Book. Just set a shoebox on its side, decorate the inside to look like the night sky, and add your nativity pieces. You can attach the pieces to the box to make a nativity scene or leave them loose using the shoebox as a backdrop.
- Magi pieces are also available. In my house we place the Magi away from our nativities during Advent and Christmas Day, since they weren’t there on the night Jesus was born. Then, throughout Christmastide, we slowly move them closer to the nativity so they arrive on Epiphany.
Once the pieces are ready, have your group use them to tell the Christmas story. You might want to start by telling the story as one big group, either by recalling it aloud together or reading from a storybook Bible. Then you could have the children get into smaller groups of 2-3 and retell the story together.
Make sure you have some type of bag that children can put their pieces in or have them place the pieces in their new shoebox backdrop to take them home. Encourage the children to use their nativity pieces to share the story with someone this week. If they are like my kids, baby Jesus will become a part of all imaginative play—setting off in a rocket with Daniel Tiger, adventuring alongside Batman, and sleeping in a bed made of Legos.
As my children brought the Christmas story everywhere with them it came alive and held meaning I couldn’t have imagined—may it be the same with the children in your Dwell group!