Pinterest moms have probably already seen the felt Christmas tree that has been making the rounds since last year. The simplest version of it has shapes for ornaments—something to discuss with your toddler as he plays. More complicated versions have beautifully decorated ornament that the child will absolutely love to play with.
Then there’s the newest addition to the felt holiday: a nativity set designed just for toddlers to play with. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, along with the three kings and the shepherds, are beautifully rendered in felt for your child to play with, giving you an excellent opportunity to discuss the Christmas story over and over throughout the Christmas season. What better lesson could you teach your toddler this advent season?
The process. The pattern for the felt nativity can be found here: http://mycrazyblessedlife.com/2012/11/07/wall-nativity/. You’ll need several different colors of felt, and at least one large piece to use to make the stable. It’s a fairly time-consuming process, taking up a couple of hours even to put together the basic pieces. However, if you have older kids, you can enlist them to participate in the process, shortening it considerably and making it a learning activity all at the same time.
Enlisting your older kids also gives you a valuable opportunity to discuss the Christmas story. For example, most nativity sets do include three wise men—but the Bible never specifies that there were three. The three kings are used to signify the three gifts that they came bearing, but the actual number of people in their entourage is unknown. Furthermore, the wise men did not arrive at the manger, and in fact did not greet Jesus until he was approximately two years old. All of these are things that you can discuss with your children as you’re working on the nativity set.
The toddler verdict. It’s not a bad project, and it’s definitely one that will get you some play time, but it’s probably going to take you longer to put it together than your child will spend playing with it. However, it is also a project that you will come back and visit over and over in years to come, because even the older kids are interested in this one. In addition, the lesson that goes along with it is far more crucial than the need for independent play in this instance.