Use these ideas on how to set up a Nativity scene for your children to create an imaginary small world they can use to re-tell the Christmas story. Plus, use our colour-and-cut-out free printable Nativity character puppets to build your play area.
Nativity small world printables
A wonderful way to bring the Nativity into deeper focus with children is to help them build a small world of the story.
A small world is a mini play-land which children can create themselves, using characters, props and sensory play materials.
Use these ideas to easily set up a Nativity small world for your children, including our free printable nativity character puppets you can colour in, cut out and use to create your nativity scene.
The benefits of teaching the Christmas story through play
Through small world play your children can:
:: develop language, learn and practise new words, and make conversations between characters
:: explore with their senses and invent things with loose parts
:: understand the Nativity with more depth and awareness, as they take turns to ‘be’ each character and imagine their feelings and actions
You can use our retelling of the Nativity story for children to introduce your children to the Christmas story.
How to make a nativity small world
You might have a special, decorative crib scene elsewhere, but this version needs to be robust enough for children to handle and you need to be clear that they do have permission to play with this set – however they want to. It’s this freedom that helps develop their creativity, imagination, and language skills.
It is very easy to make a Nativity small world for your children to play with. You might use a store-bought stable set and offer loose parts alongside so your children can creatively add elements to their world.
You might include a piece of fabric to be the land, add in a shoe box to create a stable and some pebbles and twigs to create the shepherd’s hillside.
Keep junk cardboard, pens, scissors and sticky tape nearby, so your children can make other elements to include as their storytelling progresses.
You could even create a starry sky backdrop.
Free printable nativity characters
You can use NurtureStore’s free Nativity puppets printable as the main characters in your story. See below for details on how to get your free set.
Your children can colour in and cut out each character and then use them to play.
Each one has a tab on the bottom to fold back, so the characters can stand up – you might like to use a blob of sticky tac or play dough at the back of each one to give it a little extra weight and stability to help it stand up as your children play.
More Nativity activities for children
Save time and teach better by using NurtureStore’s ready-made lesson plans!
:: see our full set of Nativity activities for children
:: get a ready-made, printable set of our complete Nativity Unit by joining our Play Academy
BONUS! Give your children a global perspective, promote diversity in your class, and build a rich multi-cultural curriculum by learning about the festivals of the world. Save time and teach better using NurtureStore’s complete set of ready-made world festival lesson plans and activities.