Sunday, November 24, 2013

Art Project: Nativity in a Box

Advent Club at our school starts tomorrow, and here is a sneak preview of one of our art projects. I find that children love to explore the story of Christ's birth by making and playing with their own nativity sets, so I can up with this idea of a portable set that they can take with them wherever they want to play. 

For this project you will need:
- 6 wooden peg figures of any size (mine are 3 1/2 cm - really small!)
- a box that they will all fit into
- felt scraps
- glue & scissors
- paint (I used blue and gold) & paintbrushes
- a sharpie or permanent marker (for drawing the faces)
- nature material (acorn caps, bark, pods, twigs or whatever you happen to have on hand)
- paper scraps for the star
- half of a walnut or almond shell
- a tiny bit of beeswax (for Baby Jesus' head)

Here are the plain peg dolls and cardboard box:

First, I glued strips of felt onto the peg figures and trimmed the bottoms to fit the figures.

Then, I drew eyes and hair on the figures as well as a beard for Joseph. I glued acorn caps onto the 3 Wise Men, and felt shawls onto Mary and the shepherd. I then glued a tiny bit of string onto the shepherd's headwear. I also attached a small twig for his shepherd's staff using glue (seen in the picture above).

Next, I painted the box blue on the inside to represent the sky, and the lid of the box gold. 

To make the stable I glued pieces of bark onto the bottom of the box. The "roof" is actually not glued - it is two pieces of bark that I glued together and lodged into the sides. I also cut a Star of Bethlehem out of gold paper and attached it above the stable.

Baby Jesus is made from a small piece of white felt and a ball of beeswax glued into a walnut shell. Half of an almond shell works just as well for the manger. 

The finishing touch was a Christmas star that I glued onto the lid of the box.

To avoid this project simply being a copied craft, I would give the children options to make it more open-ended by:

1) providing more colors of felt than shown in the picture
2) letting them put their own decoration on the lid
3) encouraging them to use whatever nature materials they want to decorate the inside of the box 
4) encourage them to think of a way to make an animal to go in their box out of paper or the nature materials.

They can put any scene that they want inside and certainly don't have to make a stable if they don't want to!


  1. Sheila, this is just such a great idea! I want to make my own box right away! Will need to find something instead of the peg dolls, never saw them here. Yours are so cute!

    1. Thanks, Asmic! I wonder if you could use wooden spools of thread or something like that? Let me know what you come up with.

  2. So cute and simple to make

    1. Thanks! My daughter proudly displayed hers again this year!