I have spent some time over the last few years looking for a nativity set for my children to play with during the holiday season. But the task of finding the perfect nativity that was kid friendly had proven to be difficult as I could not find just exactly what I was looking for. So, when I found Stephanie’s (from Barefoot in the Kitchen) felt nativity advent, I had to make one of my own. It was just the kind of nativity I was looking for.
I’ll be completely honest, this project took a number of hours to complete. I think part of this was due to having to make up my own pattern as I went along, (but don’t worry, I’ve copied mine for you at the end of this post), but also because there is hand stitching detail on nearly every piece.
Nothing but the stable and trees are actually glued down. My intention in creating such a nativity was that my children would move the pieces around and retell the Christmas story. Each piece is backed in an additional piece of felt, for added durability, and to keep my youngest from picking at the threading.
I used Cotton Embroidery Floss (affiliate link) for the stitching details, and stored the extra string in this thread organizer (affiliate link). They are somewhat contrasting colors, but it is difficult to see in the photo. That was what took the very longest. The stitching, because I used so many different thread colors on each piece. But, put the kiddies to bed and after a few movies you’ll be surprised at how quickly this project can move along.
One thing I did learn, which is the most important tip I can offer, if to use the higher quality felt found at craft stores like this Assorted Pack Acrylic Craft Felt (affiliate link). You’ll pay about $0.12 more per piece of felt, but the quality is so much better than the felt found at…say Walmart. And yes, I bought the felt in sheets, not from the bolt. For the actual nativity pieces I probably used less than twenty sheets of felt, but of about twelve different colors, so buying from the bolt wouldn’t have been practical.
Finally, I did put a large sheet of felt, from the bolt, on the wall to hold all the pieces. It’s 1/3 of a double yard, cut in half, thus removing the “double”. As recommended by a friend of mine, I used sewing pins to hold it up, which just happen to make the tiniest, unnoticeable holes in the wall.
My kiddies play with our homemade felt nativity set everyday. Sometimes William retells the Christmas story, sometimes I do. Sometimes I use the pieces to illustrate Christmas books, and sometimes the pieces are just used for pretend play, which is ok with me too. What I can tell you definitively is that both my children have heard the Christmas story more this year than any other year previous!
If you think your own kiddies would enjoy one, click Felt Nativity_Stay At Home Educator for the pattern.
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I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction