Nativity Scene Small World Play

One of our activity ideas from our Activity Advent Tree was to make our own little Nativity scene. When I was a child I loved the little cardboard box filled with straw that we used to put our Nativity figures in and spent ages playing with it and telling the story of Christmas. I’d love for our girls to do the same thing, with a simple stable small world play scene that they can play with without fear of it being ruined.
nativity small world

We took a small cardboard box and painted the outside and flaps with brown paint. The girls were very enthusiastic about this stage! Then we painted the inside bottom area with another shade of brown, using a paint tester pot. The box was turned on its side and I simply cut the two outer flaps so that they sloped up to indicate the sides of the stable, and cut the top to roughly resemble a basic roof. We filled it with some hay and found some Playmobil characters and animals to add, along with some wooden blocks.

For the star, the girls spread glue onto a yellow piece of star shaped card and then liberally sprinkled glitter and sweetie wrappers over the top! I stapled it to another star shape and stuffed it with a tissue. We stick it onto a stick and poked it through the roof, but it can be easily removed and played with during the play.

Our Playmobil characters didn’t quite fit the bill (one says “ZooKeeper” on her top!) so we cut scraps of fabric and stuck them around. The little baby is wrapped up in swaddling clothes and laying in his manger.

As we read and learn the story each day, C is understanding the main elements more and adds them into her play with the small world scene. We will add more characters later as we learn about the shepherds, angels and wise men, but for now we are retelling the first half of the events rather than the end.

We are absolutely in LOVE with this wonderful advent calendar that has a little story book for each day of advent. It goes through the Biblical account of the nativity really slowly and clearly and explains every detail very well. I’d say C is just as excited about reading our book each morning as having her chocolate! We bought ours from The Great Little Trading Co but you can also find it on Amazon. The title is “The Story of Christmas.”

And this little set of nesting Nativity dolls need a mention too as it has been regularly added to the stable scene! I picked this up at John Lewis at the weekend as it’s so lovely to find something with a Biblical focus for once, as well as being a great educational toy (perfect for stacking, arranging, problem solving and story telling!)

Do you have any activity ideas for making sure the real meaning of Christmas isn’t lost? We hope to begin many new traditions this year and would love to hear yours!


  1. says

    Oh my! Your nativity is GORGEOUS! And that reminds me.. we need to get ours out soon. That will make for a nice advent calendar activity (I add them 2-3 days at a time!).

    In Austria, we “hold Baby Jesus” back and don’y put him in the crib until the 24th in the evening. We also put the 3 Kings on the other side of the room. Come the 24th they start walking closer to the crib each day. Arriving on the 6th Jan. When we celebrate 3 Kings’ Day with a cake!


  2. says

    Lovely play ideas for the nativity story! I think it is both sweet and sometimes funny when I hear my daughter retelling the story of Jesus’ birth in her own words.

  3. says

    oooooooooh… this is fantastic!! Thank you for yet another amazing idea. Where did you get that stunning nativity advent calendar?

  4. Anonymous says

    We have made a star path for Mary. She starts off at the beginning of Advent on a path of stars cut out of gold paper. Each day she moves along, one nearer to the stable and the start she has just vacated is added to the sky ( I made this by pinning a piece of dark blue cloth to the wall behind the stable) As she moves along, I plan to add the other inhabitants of the stable one by one to add to the anticipation.