Build Your Own Bethlehem Play Scene from Recycled Materials

We're big fans of small world play scenes in our house & as Minnie is keenly exploring the Christmas story during Advent it seemed appropriate to make a Nativity-themed scene. We made this eco-friendly version from a variety of recycled items & old fabric, & the final result was beautiful.


To make the buildings for our scene we used:
Small recycled cardboard boxes
White Paper
Masking tape
White & yellow paint or cream paint
Salt or sand
Brown paper (or wrapping paper)

We started by wrapping our selection of small boxes in the plain white paper & masking tape.


Once all the boxes were covered, we mixed our yellow & white paint to create a sand colour. To create a grainy stone-like texture for our buildings we added table salt & mixed well into the paint. (Alternatively, you could use play sand which would create the same effect.) Minnie enjoyed applying the grainy paint to the boxes & exploring the texture with her fingers! When the boxes were painted we left them to dry overnight.



The rough texture of each box felt just like a rough stone wall. For our shutters & doors we used recycled brown paper & attached using double-sided tape.


We pinned up a navy bed sheet to create a night sky backdrop for our town, & stuck on a few stars we had cut from a previous craft.


And for that special bight star Minnie added this star she made at her toddler group.


Our Bethlehem scene was ready! We had just got it set up when a young couple with a donkey arrived in town!!


Minnie has enjoyed moving Mary & Joseph around this play scene, & continued their journey around the living room. As she plays with them she recounts the Nativity story, adding a few extra details here & there! For example, I never knew the houses in Bethlehem had doormats outside, or that Mary had snack stops along the journey to eat grapes! 


The donkey has galloped, & danced, & had a beautiful rendition of 'Horsey, Horsey' sung to him! With the help of Minnie's balancing skills, he's even carried Mary on his back!


Minnie's creativity, imagination & storytelling have been a joy to observe, & I love watching her engage with the Nativity Story in a way which is totally relevant to her!


We're leaving this play scene up to be explored over the next few weeks, & we'll be adding more figures as we explore the story. You might also like the stable & shepherds hillside we made to complete our Nativity Scene.