A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt

I love nativity scenes. I own three already, and I’m always looking for one to add to our yard.  Our family loves going to look at Christmas lights together, as I'm sure most families do! Over the many years of this tradition, we have noticed how nativity scene are harder to find, and more Santa Claus and Disney things are making their way into decorations.

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt | www.joyinthehome.com

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt

We started to make it about a game to see who could spot a nativity scene, or baby Jesus first. The kids really were enjoying the hunt we embarked on every Christmas season.

In the attempt to saturate our family with a Christ Centered Christmas, I have created a Family Nativity Scavanger Hunt for us to do together, while keeping that excitement to ‘seek Jesus like the Wise men did long, long ago’.

Get your Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt.

You can print one per family or one per person.

You may want to take a clip board or hard books to use as a hard surface. And don't forget a pencil or pen to mark off your finds.  You may just be surprised how much of a hunt this turns out to be.

Your children may love to dress up as ‘wise men', as they go out looking for the nativity.

To add to our family tradition, we like to bringing some hot cocoa and snacks, with Christmas music playing in the vehicle!

I hope your family will enjoy the hunt as much as we will.

Do you want more Christ centered activities? These resources will help you do just that!

 

Truth in the Tinsel ebook

How to Make a Manger

Have you ever considered having a manger to celebrate Christmas? If you are looking to make a manger yourself, here is how we made ours.

How to Make a Manger | www.joyinthehome.com

Our daughter wanted to make her own headboard out of barn wood, so my husband asked his relative in Pennsylvania if they had any laying around that she could use. He blessed us with many planks of 100 year old wood that was harvested on the family land, which makes it have it own history for our family and beautiful.  We decided to make another manger with our left over wood.

How to Make a Manger

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 – 25 inches long wood, at least 8 inches wide
  • 2 – 12 inches long wood, at least 8 inches wide
  • 1 or 2 pieces of wood to make the bottom
  • Angle tool
  • A table saw or another saw to cut with
  • Nail gun or hammer
  • Nails

Manger angle the cut | www.joyinthehome.com

My husband angled each cut 12.5 degrees. You can either use an angle tool, like above or an attachment on the table saw, like below, to easily do the cut.

manger table saw cut | www.joyinthehome.com

Once you have two pieces for the long side (25 inches before the angel cut) and two pieces for the short sides (12 inches before the angle cut), you can begin to construct them together, using a nail gun or hammer and nails.

manger putting it together | www.joyinthehome.com

After you get the walls of the manger put together, you will need to put a bottom on it. Measure yours to be certain of the length and width needed. You can use one or two pieces to make the bottom. You can see that we used two pieces of our scrap wood to make our bottom.

manger bottom | www.joyinthehome.com

That is all it takes to make a manger!  It took us about an hour to put ours together and we absolutely love sharing the story of how we got the wood.

manger complete | www.joyinthehome.com

Check out Why a Manger Replaced Our Christmas Tree.

A Collection of Nativity Activities

Our family replaced our Christmas tree with a manger, and ever since, I love finding good ideas that surround the nativity story.

A Collection of Nativity Activities | www.joyinthehome.com

A Collection of Nativity Activities

Matchbox Manger Craft by The Craft Train
Journey to Bethlehem Small World Play by Adventures in Mommydom
Little Drummer Boy by Every Star Is Different
Handprint Angels by My Little 3 and Me
Simple Cheap Nativity That Children Can Really Play With by My Mundane and Miraculous Life

Nativity-Sensory-Bin

 

Nativity Sensory Bin by Golden Reflections Blog
Sun Catcher Nativity Scene by Peace Creek on the Prairie
A Felt Nativity Story by Stay at Home Educator
Nativity Ornament Tutorial by Crafting and Creativity
Nativity Wood Chip Style by Create It! Go

familynativitylead

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt by Teachers of Good Things
Painted Rock Nativity Set by Painting Rocks
Stable Ornament by Adventures of a DIY Mom
Free Printable Bible Town and Figures by Bible Based Homeschool
A Manger of Their Own by Teachers of Good Things

toilet-roll-nativity-set

Toilet Roll Nativity Set by Happy Hooligans
Truth in the Tinsel by Oh Amanda
Celebrate Jesus Resources by Homeschool Encouragement

25 Ways to Bring Christ into Your December Homeschool

For many homeschooling families, they break from the normal homeschool routines to bring Christ into their December Homeschool, usually with more of an Advent focus. There are many ways that we can have a more Christ-centered Christmas through homeschool. This list is to inspire you to make the most of your December homeschool with family oriented days that will be easy to bring Christ into your days all December long.

25 Ways to Bring Christ into Your December Homeschool | www.joyinthehome.com

25 Ways to Bring Christ into Your December Homeschool

  1. Study Christmas Hymns – Learn the stories behind the Christmas songs we all love can be a wonderful month long study that will easily bring a Christ-centered Christmas to all of your family. I would recommend Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas and Gloria, A Christmas Hymn Study. This could be a wonderful way to spend the last 30 minutes or so of a day, cuddled with your family, before tucking the kids in bed.
  2. Make Christmas Goodies for Neighbors, Elderly and Shut-ins – We all make Christmas goodies, often times too much. Showing Christ in December can be easy when you bless others with some as well. Think beyond your family and friends, and consider blessing your neighbors, elderly from church and don't forget those who are shut-in their homes because of health reasons. I saw a fun way to package cookies using a Pringles can and thought this would be the perfect way to share our Christmas goodies this year. You can spend the day baking cookies and doing crafts to bless others later that day. Have the child see if they can double or triple the recipe for some math practice.
  3. Make Homemade Christmas Cards for Family and Friends – Children love crafts, so why not have a day where they make homemade Christmas cards for their closest friends and family members. While they are making their cards, you can work on your list of Christmas cards. I love Shutterfly for Christmas cards! I can get our Christmas photo put right on them, plus I can have them send my cards straight to my list of family and friends.
  4. Write a Family Newsletter – Creating a yearly newsletter where each person shares a paragraph of their highlights for the year. Once everyone has their final draft of their paragraph, just add them together to create a fun family newsletter to let family and friends know what is going on in your life. Don't tell the kids that they are working on their writing skills!
  5. Clean Out the Toys and Clothes for Donation – Most children receive new toys and clothes for Christmas. Take the time before their new gifts arrive to declutter and organize their rooms, while putting the focus on children who do not have as much. Once you are done, take a family trip to the local charity organizations for your donations. Removing them quickly will really help the younger children.
  6. Go Christmas Caroling – This wonderful tradition is not practiced enough. We did this a few years ago, in our neighborhood. We had a group of friends that came together at our home and we constructed cookie trays with a card. We visited about 12 homes on a very cold night the week of Christmas and sang until someone came to the door. Our neighborhood loved it and we were able to meet some new people we would otherwise not have taken the time to introduce ourselves. Our neighbors mentioned it the next year and seemed disappointed we didn't do it again.
  7. Organize a Winter Coat, Hat and Glove Drive – To get your family excited about this opportunity to bless others, I would recommend you read Gideon's Gift. Then start asking your church, neighbors and going through your own closets to collect winter coats, hats and gloves for the homeless. There are many organizations that deliver these to those in need.
  8. Spend a Day Reading Picture Books – I love picture books, but there is nothing like Christmas picture books for our family. I have a list of my favorite books that I have read over the years to my children and would recommend you starting this tradition. Grab some tissues, cuddle and read!
  9. Host a Birthday Party for Jesus – There is nothing so special than to take time to put your children's attention to celebrating the birth of Jesus. You can start the birthday party with The King is Born, read Luke 2 and talk about Him being the light of the world, as you all blow out the candle on your own cupcake, to symbolize that Jesus is here for all of us.
  10. Do an Advent Activity Daily – You would love Truth in the Tinsel for your little ones! Each day has an Advent activity that is part of the nativity story.
  11. Read Advent Focused Books – Our family has loved the trio series for Advent reading: Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels.
  12. Watching Christmas Movies that Motivate Good Things – Christmas movies are all over the television in December. I have a list of some of my favorite Christmas family movies that teach thinking about other things. I also have some of my favorite Christmas movies for my younger children.
  13. Create a Jesse Tree – We have never done a Jesse Tree, but the concept is a great idea. Here is a Jesse Tree study that may be a great fit for your family.
  14. Participate in a Christmas Choir or Play – Get your whole family involved in a Christmas choir or play that will have them memorizing for a Christ-centered Christmas.
  15. Write a Letter to Jesus – You have heard about writing a letter to Santa, but have you had your children write a letter to Jesus? You could have them thank Him for his blessings, tell Him how much they love them, write what they want to do for Him and even what they desire from Him. Your church can host a Letter to Jesus drive with a box for the kids to drop their letters in each Sunday of the month of December.
  16. Study Gifts in the Bible – I created a free printable for a study on what the Bible says about ‘gifts'. You can use these as memory verses or just as discussion verses through the month of December.
  17. Go on a Nativity Scavenger Hunt – We love to go Christmas light looking. We turned this loved family tradition into a meaningful Nativity scavenger hunt. Get your free printable to go on your own!
  18. Host a Cookie Decorating PartyCookie decorating is a family tradition for our family, but we switched it up a few years ago to have a more Christ-centered Christmas with using nativity cookie cutters.
  19. Children Create a Skit for the Nativity – Have a homemade skit of Luke 2, where the children dress up and construct their own skit for you and your spouse, and maybe others.
  20. Make Christmas Ornaments – Having homemade Christmas ornaments on your tree is something that your children will cherish for years. They also make great gifts! You can make clay ornaments, swirly ornaments, or wooden ornaments.
  21. Learn About Candy Canes – The history of the candy cane is fun to learn about. You can also do some fun decorating with candy canes, like this beautiful centerpiece.  You can also do some yummy things with them: chocolate candy cane, peppermint fudge, and candy cane pops.
  22. Sponsor an Orphan – Helping our children think of others is always a great way to bring Christ into our homeschool. Our family loves the heart of Door of Hope Palawan and would love to share with you how you can help raise money to sponsor one orphan for a year. It is easy with just finding 35 people to donate $10 year or 12 people donating $25 each.
  23. Host a Charity Event – There are so many amazing charities that your family can get busy with supporting. Inviting friends over during December to enjoy a time of fellowship, while introducing them to a way to impact others.
  24. Visit a Nursing Home – The elderly have a hard time during the holidays and anything we can do to make their celebrations joyful would be a good thing. Your family can visit to read books, sing carols or just to visit.
  25. Invite a Soldier to Christmas Dinner – Soldiers are often times unable to return home for Christmas, so they would normally have no where to go for the Christmas dinner. Some local churches organize hosting homes for soldiers to come and enjoy Christmas with others.

A Manger Scene of Their Own

Have you ever surprised your toddlers with putting them to bed and having the house decorated when they wake up?

I have and I love the excitement in their eyes when they come out and see the wonder in their eyes!  They quickly go up to the twinkling lights and beautiful decoration and want to touch it all.  Why wouldn't they? After all they learn through touch and most likely, they have don't remember seeing something like this before, so curiosity is high.

Years ago, my mom gave our daughter her own nativity scene and I couldn't believe who easy it was to train her to stay away from ours.  That nativity was well loved and after three children that played with it so much, we needed to replace it when our fourth child arrived.  I went looking for the one for him and found Little People Christmas Story Nativity Scene Playset.

As you can see, he loves to play with his manger and his baby Jesus!

*I have affiliate links in this post.

 

This is part of the Toddler Training Thursday Link Up.  To participate, grab the button and place on your post.

A Christ Centered Christmas

Do you ever go to one extreme and then start feeling the urge to swing back, not necessarily to the other extreme, but more of ‘in the middle'?   I always think about the ‘lukewarm' in the Bible when I think of those having the impression of these actions or even one that is like ‘a tree in the wind' that can easily be swayed.

In 2003, our family learned the history of several of the holidays that we, as Christians, have celebrated.  That information shocked our socks off and frankly, made us swing to one extreme… not participating in them.  As we learned more, I could see the wonders of the feast in the Bible, that continued to be celebrated even in the New Testament.  Yet, it seemed that the more we looked into them, others who were doing them were attempting to put on the chains that Jesus died to free us from, while others seem to be exploiting them for profit.

Amidst all of these changes and learning, we were raising our children the best we could, attempting with our whole hearts to be found faithful with the blessings that were giving to us and seeking His guidance in the direction for our family. We could look around and see the affects of families, as parents were willing to climb into debt for that prized gift to be put under the tree and knowing we were spending money that we really could have been putting to better use in other areas of raising our family.  So for us, it was easy to put the gifts aside and raise our children with the focus of Christ for the holidays.

Fast forward nine years, to the present day and you would find us search and discussing our decision we made all those years ago. Not believing we made a mistake, as I see the fruit of our decision to know that ‘a fast' of gifts were necessary for our family in order to remove the bondage of the commercialism of the holiday that we ‘confess' to be for Jesus and turn our hearts closer to him.  As November was passing by, our hearts became heavy to have a VERY Christ Centered Christmas, one that will leave us longing for the next December, because we want to be SATURATED in learning about Him, emulating His love for others and giving good things… gifts to our children!

We know that He doesn't give us gifts that would harm us, so we are looking for what is specifically good for each child's uniqueness, gifts that will bring them closer to the Savior, gifts that will strengthen their character and inspire them to be strong in their faith and in the gifts of their heavenly Father!

This is going to be a GREAT Christ Centered Christmas… and I just can't wait to see the how His Name will be praised from those whom He has entrusted us to raise for HIM!