The first of our Storybook Advent featured books is the Nativity and we have a fantastic Sensory Play Activity for you and your kids to set up and explore, play and use for retelling the story this Christmas. So here we go a Natural Sensory Play Inspired by the Nativity Story for Kids.
Nativity Sensory Play Activity for Toddlers & Preschoolers
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We love reading ‘The Nativity’ during advent to give meaning to the season and this year we created a special Nativity Sensory Play Activity for toddlers and pre-schoolers to explore after reading the story.
You could even set up a sensory play area to re-enact the special Nativity story as you go!
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There are so many different elements to the Nativity Story, that sensory play is perfect for helping young children understand the different storylines that occur.
Sensory play is so important for preschoolers as it helps them engage their world through their senses and helping them experiment through their senses is crucial to help them get ready for school!
Creating a storytelling sensory play brings the story alive through all the children’s senses. Each part of the sensory bin you create becomes an experience which invites children to interact with the characters and symbols of the story – sensory storytelling is a fun activity that you can do with lots of kids or just one.
You can either enjoy it as an activity together with your child or set it up as a ‘keeping busy’ activity they will love as you countdown to Christmas and celebrate Advent together!
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Storytelling Sensory Play & Bins for Toddlers & Preschoolers
Creating a Sensory Play Nativity
Materials Needed for a Nativity Sensory Play Set-Up
- Box to represent the stable
- Figures of the Nativity Characters we used characters from the Playmobil Nativity Manger
- Straw or shredded paper
- Small box e.g. Matchbox to be a manger for the stable
- Wooden peg doll for Jesus – we bought this collection and used them to make our Nativity Peg Ornaments and Angel
- Star Christmas Decoration
- Stones, pebbles, beans, sand etc… to represent the journey that Mary made
- Spices & Foil to represent the gifts from the 3 Kings
How to Set up Your Nativity Story Sensory Tub
We created our Sensory Nativity Crib Scene by working backwards through the story.
First, we created a stable out of a wicker box.
You could use anything for your stable – a cardboard box or wicker basket works well.
Add some small Mary and Joseph figures (ours were Playmobil – linked in the materials list above!) and some animals to the stable too.
You could use real hay or straw for your stable or if there are allergies and you want to make it easier to tidy up – try using packing materials from deliveries.
You will need a small baby Jesus wrapped in a tissue or material – a matchbox makes a perfect manger!
We used a star Christmas decoration to hang above the stable, but you could make a star out of cardboard and glitter.
My toddler had as much fun sourcing the things for our sensory Nativity Bin as he did in playing with it!
To try and help children understand what a difficult journey Mary had on her donkey – we trudged Mary through some dried borlotti beans and pebbles. We also added some split peas and dried wheat to represent the shepherd’s food for the animals.
Kids will love scooping and sprinkling the wheat and split peas (or you could use lentils). Adding some small mini wood slices are great for stacking and using for Mary and Joseph to sit on!
During your telling of the Nativity story – you could use an angel (try making a Peg Doll Angel) and your kids will have fun sprinkling white feathers down onto your stable.
If you’d like to help your kids remember the part of The Nativity where the Three Kings visit – you could use spices to represent the gifts they bring. We chose to use cinnamon sticks and ground spice in little pots – the kids had such fun smelling the spices and taking their gifts to the stable to visit Baby Jesus!
You could also make some Playdough inspired by the gifts with our homemade gifts of the 3 kings play dough for Christmas Sensory Play.
Hope these ideas help you create your own Nativity Sensory Play to make the Nativity story memorable this Advent Season!
More Activities & Crafts Inspired by the Nativity Story
Check out these other Nativity themed Activities for Kids that you can do after reading the Nativity Story together.
- Make a set of Nativity Story Stones and use these for the retelling of the story of the very first Christmas with your kids.
- Create a textured art project with your younger kids to show the birth of Jesus with this Nativity Art Project for Kids.
- Create a window star that represents the star that guided the 3 Kings to Bethlehem and Jesus with our Advent Window Star Tutorial.
Jemma from Thimble and Twig
Jemma blogs at Thimble and Twig about hopscotching through life with 4 little people whilst clinging onto a job and renovating our 1930s house.
Our family are passionate about outdoor adventures and exploring in our home of South East London.
We love making and baking and going on nature walks.