Decorating a Nativity Tree

This simple activity is a lovely way to explore the characters from the Nativity during Advent.

I collected Christmas decorations each depicting a character from the Christmas Story & placed them in a small wooden bowl. If you don't have any Nativity decorations, you could print off some characters on card, or ask children if they'd like to draw the characters themselves, just add a loop of ribbon to each image to attach to the tree. Making Friends have a cute set of Nativity figures to print out which would be perfect for this.

We collected large sticks to make a tree (which Minnie loved!) & I added a tall vase. I've since substituted this for a wooden container, as the vase fell a few times with Minnie eagerly decorating the tree.

Minnie created the tree by arranging the twigs in the vase

She started to add the figures by picking them from the bowl, but soon they were spread out on the table so she could clearly see each one.

Great to see her skill & care as she manipulated & added each figure to the tree.

She placed baby 'Gegus', Mary & Joseph on the same branch, explaining that Mary & Joseph needed to stay with Jesus to look after him! She sorted all the angels together, & then all the Kings, before adding the star to the highest branch she could find.

As she found & added the characters she was able to name them, & I was quite surprised at just how much of the story she could recall & the order in which she sequenced the key events.

We've left the tree for Minnie to explore. She's free to  redecorate it, play with the characters or just leave it as it is.

Earlier today I found that she had been looking at this book by the tree. I love that she is exploring the Nativity story in her own way, & making connections herself.

The great thing about this tree is that it gives children freedom to explore particular parts of the Nativity that interest them, & it also allows new stories to be discovered & shared. Great too for encouraging imagination, creativity, motor skills, recall & recognition, sorting, predicting & other maths skills, but maybe most importantly it offers children space to wonder.

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  1. AH this is gorgeous! I think you and I would have a lot to talk about in "real" life ;-) We just opened our advent calendar that has 24 little board books telling the nativity story in order, which has been a real hit. We are only half way through our stable and need to finish that asap! This is a perfect idea for little people (who love to decorate trees!)

  2. This activity is a beautiful amalgamation of art, storytelling, logic, fine motor!
    Loved how she put Mary and Joseph with Jesus so He can be taken care of. That's so thoughtful!

    It turned out beautiful with the wooden ornaments.

  3. We've been needing a way to do a tree for advent, and sticks in a vase totally looks like something I can handle! Love the idea of the kids being able to manipulate it!

  4. What a lovely idea, and it sounds like your daughter is learning a lot!

  5. So beautiful and meaningful!!

  6. this is wonderful and what a great way to keep the reason for the season central to her and in a fun way! :)

  7. I love this! Right now my children have very simple nativities in their rooms, but I would love to have something that they can create for themselves and really cherish the meaning. Thank you! I would love it if you would link up to my Frugal Christmas Week ( so my readers can check this out as well! Thanks!

  8. What an original idea!!!! And a way to incorporate reading and books into a meaningful activity! Please consider linking up at the C&C linky! People would love to see this!

  9. I love how the bright colours of the characters transform the bare branches.

  10. I love this idea! Will be trying this with my girls! Thank you for sharing!