Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This Is the Stable - Nativity Book and Craft

This is a a story-and-a craft heavy week here in preparation for Christmas.  On Monday, we made ornaments to go with our stories.  Today we made a Nativity scene.  (Part of me was excited to do this -- I've been planning this activity since early November.  Part of me is relieved it's done - I've spent the last two weeks rescuing the saved paper towel rolls from the pirates, sword fighters, etc. who keep "borrowing" them.)

This is the book we read.  I ordered it through Celia's teacher's link at Scholastic Book Club.  The book itself was discounted, plus purchases through the club would get bonus books for the classroom.  However, it can be purchased directly from  Amazon, and is well worth the full price cost. 

The body of the craft is recycled things: a small box (some of my friends may recognize it - yes, it's a Neocate case box), and cardboard paper towel rolls.  We also used craft felt, pipe cleaners (chenille stems), wooden craft sticks, and glue.  LOTS of glue.

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

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 a herringbone pattern, but they sort of eventually slid into just touching.  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..." and "...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.  We used blue, the traditional color for Mary's garments, but the beautiful illustrations in the book dress her in purples and oranges.

Add her face.

 Glue on another piece of blue felt for her veil.  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.

 Tidy up as necessary.  Jude doesn't like any left-behind glue.

"...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 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, and lay him in it.

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

Cut out a felt star, and place it on the peak of t he roof.

"...the star whose light shown down on the quiet stable, dusty and brown..."

By now, your stable is complete. Unless your child looks at it, decides they need more light, and add... ...

...and skylights.

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

Can you see Mary, after a long trip and in labor?

"Honey, I know you're probably tired after the journey, but it's a bit dark in here. Could you hop up on the roof and add a skylight or two? And maybe a few windows? After all, you're a carpenter..."

(Sorry.  I couldn't resist.)

Of course, every Nativity set needs some angels. Use uncut paper towel rolls (this makes rolls number 3 and 4, if you're counting) covered in white felt, add faces and halos.  Wings optional. (Unless you have Jude.  Then cut yellow triangles and glue to their backs.)

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."

Jude and I pray you have a Blessed Christmas 
and the world finds the peace that was born so many years ago
 in Bethlehem town, in a quiet stable, dusty and brown.

If you are celebrating Epiphany, or Three Kings' Day, you can find a materials list and instructions for building Magi to go with your Nativity set by clicking the photo at the left.

Christmas is for sharing.  Linking up with our friends at:


  1. What a precious, precious nativity scene to treasure!

  2. What a great hands-on activity! I could see this being just as fun with older kids as younger. Adding it to my file for next years Christmas Craft Day.

  3. I love that book! What a fun craft, too! Thanks so much for linking up to Share It Saturday!


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