Simple Drawing – Nativity Scene

This is a companion post to the Preschool Christmas Gift for Parents Post.

Disclaimer: During Group Time, I sometimes like to show children easy ways to draw things using very simple shapes.  I am not an artist myself, and we always talk about how my drawing isn’t going to look exactly like the thing I’m drawing  – and that is ok. “We are just practicing” is our motto.  (I had a hurtful thing said to me when I was younger, and strongly feel that children should be encouraged to draw no matter their talent level.) We also talk about how their drawing isn’t going to look exactly like mine.  We are just practicing!

I like to tell the children that I have drawn a Nativity scene the exact same way since I was little – and I’m not kidding.  It has some lines, some circles, some triangle-y shapes, a rectangle, a cross and an x.

I like to start with the roof.  (We use our arms first to talk about flat roofs and pointy roofs.), then add sides


Then a manger, which is a rectangle, 2 legs, a half-circle, and some ‘glory’.  We talk about each part as I add it.


Then the people.  We start with a circle-ish shape for the head, then a triangle-ish shape for the robe.


Another one for Mary or Joseph – depending on who’s taller.


Then we need a star in the sky.  We start with a simple cross shape:


Then draw an ‘X’ through the middle.  These are always good for the children to practice drawing in the air first.


An angel is just a tilty person in the sky….


With some half-circles for wings.



I go through it again on a blank paper/whiteboard and have the children tell me the parts that need to be added.  I don’t put features on mine because I don’t want their work to be an exact copy, but we talk about the things they could add to their picture to make it look fancy – faces, arms, a shepherds hook, etc.

I hang my prototype where they can see it from their drawing space.  The results are fabulous!

Preschool Christmas Gift for Parents

We have been doing the same gift for parents for the past 3 or 4 years, and have the whole process down to a science.  For approximately 25 children, plan on a week plus a day to get this all done.

To do ahead of time:

1. Make a shepherd costume.  (We have 2 for faster photographing.)  You can whip up one yourself or follow these easy costume plans.

2. Buy a bunch of plain wooden frames from Michael’s.  They are usually $1.  If you can’t find them, look for some other cheap frame option, such as a cardboard frame from Hobby Lobby.  (Only buy them when they are 50% off, though.)

There are three parts to this whole process, which is why you should give yourself plenty of time. A week and a half before Christmas break is not too soon to start.  You can be working on these three parts at the same time if you have an aide.


I have a manger that I made several years ago that collapses and stores well throughout the rest of the year.  You can find plans for it here, or you can just use a wooden or cardboard box.  Truly, whatever you use will be fine.  We dress the child as a shepherd, give them a stuffed sheep (ours is a puppet) to hold, pin a dark blanket on the wall as a backdrop, and snap away with a digital camera.  Take several poses so you have a good selection.  You can either print them out yourself or at a store.

Here’s a final sample:


(The tree in the background is our housekeeping tree.  You can read more about that here.)


Ahead of time, unwrap the frames and save the little cardboard insert.  That comes in handy to provide backing for the photo.  (Optional: I cut pieces of transparency sheets as the ‘glass’ for the photo since the frames don’t come with any.  It’s not necessary, but it’s nice.)

I let the children paint the frames with liquid watercolor since it dries quickly and is more like ‘staining’ the wood.  They love this part and it’s very ‘child-created’.


The easiest way to do this is to fold a large piece of 12 x 18 paper in half and let the child decorate one side and on the other side write TO MOM AND DAD FROM (Name).  The writing part is an excellent time to see who can copy letters on their own and who needs help.  You can always dot the letters and use your Name Cards for those who need help.

The decorated side can be done many ways.  I have a nativity stamp that we’ve used one year, or you can teach them a simple way to draw a nativity scene and read about it here.


Ok, some things you need to so on your own: 1) Glue the bottom and sides of the papers and weigh them down while they dry. 2)Get prints of the children made. 3) Round up some ribbon and a hole punch. 4) Pre-assemble the photo and frame.  I’ve had the children help with this in the past, but it’s really just them watching me work, and that’s not helping anybody.

When it’s time to wrap them, I have the child punch two holes at the top, put the frame in, and thread a piece of ribbon through then we tie it.  It sounds simple, but it takes a whole day to get everyone’s done.

(Optional: This year I had them tell me the Nativity story and I printed it up to put on the back of the photo. It was a nice touch, but it was quite a bit more work.)

Merry Christmas!

Mother’s Day Present

This idea was stolen from a great Valentine’s Day idea.  Take a photo of each child holding up a a crayon in their fist,  right at the camera.  Print, make slits at the top and bottom of their fist and thread in a small fake flower.  Have each child decorate a folded piece of construction paper, writing their own variation on “I love you, Mom” / “Happy Mother’s Day”.  Have them make a To Mom From (Name) envelope out of recycled envelopes.