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We do several different Advent calendar activities, but this year I wanted to do start a tradition of telling the Nativity story in parts over 7 days using our Melissa & Doug Nativity set. We received it last year as a Christmas gift so this is really the first time we've gotten to play with it since it got packed away in our Christmas decor soon after we arrived home from Christmas last year.
You can use any Nativity set for this activity, but Melissa & Doug's set is by far my favorite of the few that we have. I love the durability of the wooden pieces and the adoration on each of the figures' faces. My absolute FAVORITE part is that the manger is double-sided and you can save baby Jesus for Christmas day.
I broke the story down and created the following 7-day plan:
Set out the figures the night before (see below for ideas on how to use the printable) and allow your child(ren) to explore the pieces when they wake each morning. We have a breakfast picnic and read the scripture during this time, but setting up the Nativity scene on your kitchen or dining table works as well.
Day 1: The Annunciation
The Archangel Gabriel visits Mary
Nativity Figures Needed: Mary & the Angel
Discussion: What did the angel say to Mary when she was scared? What name did the angel say to give the baby?
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Hark the Herald Angels Sing
The Archangel Gabriel appears to Joseph in a dream
Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph & the Angel
Discussion: Who is Joseph? Talk about Jesus' earthly father and heavenly Father.
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Joseph's Lullaby - Mercy Me
Day 3: The Visitation
Mary visits Elizabeth
Nativity Figures Needed: Mary & an additional woman/girl figurine
Discussion: What happened when Mary greeted Elizabeth? Talk about a baby's movements inside the womb.
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Believe - Josh Groban
Day 4: Census
Mary & Joseph travel to Bethlehem for Jesus' birth
Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph, Mary, Jesus & stable animals
Discussion: Talk about a census. Where did Mary & Joseph have to go to pay taxes? Where did Mary lay baby Jesus after He was born?
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Away in a Manger
Day 5: Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Angels visit the Shepherds
Nativity Figures Needed: The Angel & Shepherds
Discussion: Why did the angels appear to the shepherds? Discuss how Jesus is the Lamb of God.
Song to be Sung or Listened to: Angels We Have Heard on High
Day 6: Shepherds
Shepherds visit the Christ child
Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Shepherds & stable animals
Discussion: How did the shepherds find baby Jesus? Who did the shepherds tell about Jesus?
Song to be Sung or Listened to: O Come All Ye Faithful
Baby Jesus in the manger
3 Kings visit the Christ child
Nativity Figures Needed: Joseph, Mary, Jesus, 3 Kings & stable animals
Discussion: What made the star they saw different than the others? What type of gift would you give Jesus for His birthday? Discuss ways you could give Jesus a birthday gift by volunteering, serving or donating.Song to be Sung or Listened to: We Three Kings
FTC Disclosure: All personal opinions and/or views regarding Melissa & Doug are my own and may differ from other users of Melissa & Doug products. I'll be compensated by Melissa & Doug for this post.
There are SO many different ways (from simple to elaborate) to celebrate the Christmas story with your children. My plan is to focus on the Nativity as much as possible when they are young so that as they grow, they realize that Christmas isn't about gifts, or toys, or a Santa, or Christmas trees. It's about a King who was born of a virgin mother, suffered, died and rose again to save us.
The linky below is filled with beautiful ideas for activities, books, crafts that celebrate the Nativity. Please take a moment to visit a few other links and don't forget to link up YOUR Nativity activities!
Here is a list of the 28 fabulous bloggers participating in the Focus on the Nativity Blog Hop today!