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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

In the Schoolroom: A Child’s Nativity


The power of storytelling and play, something as simple as handling the Nativity figures, could connect young children to their faith.

When I was a child my grandfather built the entire town of Bethlehem winding around the small living room of their apartment in Brooklyn. No one ever thought to take a photo of it. Film was pricey, and no one had extra money in December, but I have vivid memories of the shops he built and the little figures inhabiting them. I have the figures of the Holy Family from his set, a 1950 no-name brand that is not valuable except that it belonged to my Nana and Papa, whom I loved dearly.

Close Up and Personal


One thing I remember about that Nativity display is that, unlike the one at my house, I was allowed to touch it.

This had more to do with indulgent grandparents than anything else, but I remember being excited to be allowed to handle the baby sheep and the camels. The wise men were richly colored and so fascinating.

When I had my own children, those figures, chipped and glued up, were placed up high, but I always had a few Nativity sets that they could set up themselves, handle, and use to act out the story of Our Lord’s birth

The Power of Play

Connecting young children to their faith through storytelling and play is an important foundation for the deeper dive into Scripture they will do later in life.

Having a few Nativity sets ensured everyone had a chance to play, and it made the house more festive reminding us of why we were in the season we were in.

I’ve spent some money on the fancy sets made by Playmobil, Hasbro, and Fisher Price, but the ones the children enjoyed the most were the ones they made themselves.

The internet is full of ideas on how best to create your own Nativity sets, and I found keeping it as simple as possible to be the best plan. Now that my children are grown up, we don’t craft anymore, but the last little set we made holds pride of place in the school area (high school area now), and it brings back such lovely memories of spending time creating and storytelling with my young ones.

About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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