Open Ended Christmas Activities for Kids

Christmas Activities for kids- Loose Parts Nativity Scenes

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Are you looking for open ended Christmas activities for kids?  Here is a creative Christmas invitation to play with materials purchased at a thrift store.

Our thrift store is stocked with Christmas pretties on the cheap right now, so I picked up strings of beads, several nativity people, some bows, poinsettias, snowflake doilies, and more for about $10.  I already had the red and green glass gems.  These get a lot of use in our classroom.

I set up this provocation pictured below.  You could use any variety of materials that you already have on hand or check out the dollar store or thrift store to add to your crafty collection.

Christmas activities for children. Nativity scene in loose parts
Christmas nativity scene provocation

Open Ended Christmas Activities for kids encourage learning and creative thinking…

Open ended Christmas Activities for kids such as this one using loose parts, allow children to learn through play and use their imagination to make meaning through the materials.  In this instance, I provided the key characters from the Christmas story, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherds and sheep, the angels, the wise men and even some animals.

One of the most interesting aspects of this type of activity is the conversation that takes place with the children as they create.  Some of the children’s “finished product”  looked a little like Christmas threw up on a place mat, but the process was rich with meaning for them.

They named the materials as they added them.

“I am going to make a place for the sheep to live.”

“Everyone wants to be close to baby Jesus.”

“The Angels are in the sky.”

“It’s snowing in my picture.”

This is mary, This is Joseph, and so on.

They also expressed appreciation for the beauty of the materials.

“Ooohhh, I like the beads.”

“What are these, they look like stars.”

“I want all the red ones.”

They had to figure out how to share the materials.

“She is taking all the people.”

“Are there any more of these?” referring to the glass gems.

“Is he done? I want to use the beads.”

It got a little tense for a bit…my daughter was definitely hoarding the materials….and the other kids were NOT going to stand for that!  We had some great opportunities to guide them through being considerate of others.

They were totally engaged…

As far as Christmas activities for kids, this one was VERY engaging!

We have one little girl who is so introverted that we have to work SO very hard to get her to participate.  This was HER THING!  It made my heart joyful to see her express a bit more of her personality through this activity.  Here is a sample of one of her pictures.

Christmas Nativity Scene with loose parts

In fact, they were so into this activity and worked independently for so long, that I got to make my own!  Here is one of my creations.

Open Ended Christmas Activities for kids
it’s an angel! Made with loose parts

This activity was done with preschool children, but honestly as an adult it was still fun for me.  I repeated the activity with Elementary children and they were just as into it as the preschoolers.

How to set up the Activity:

On the table, I laid a place mat at each seat to help define the work space.  The place mat becomes like the “paper” used to create a Christmas scene.  Whenever I create invitations to create with loose parts I offer to take pictures of the children’s work since they don’t really take home a finished product.  This way their work is kept forever.  *bonus: parents don’t have to take home yet another Sunday school Christmas craft.

I sorted the materials by type and placed them on the table where the children could easily see them and reach them.  The goal is to set up something that is simple, yet is beautiful and intriguing enough to draw the children in.

Sorting the materials in this way also helps with clean up.  They children are able to put the materials back by sorting them into the designated bowls.

Well…I hope by this point you are curious enough to see some more of the children’s nativity scenes.

Open Ended christmas Activities for children- Create a nativity scene
I love how everyone is gathered around Jesus. and the bows are placed in such a way that your attention is drawn to the people.
This one is very linear. Everything is in a line. But baby Jesus is set apart from the others.
What a happy mess! A little of everything in this nativity scene.
This one is super simple. Can you see how the children’s different personalities come out in their scenes. Some want to add everything, but some very purposefully add a few things and are content to be done.
Here’s another wild and crazy one. Lots of sheep and angels in this one.
This little boy created spaces for the sheep to live.

So, if you are looking for open ended Christmas activities for kids, I hope this one sparks your imagination.  What can you find at the thrift store or from what you already own that may help your children (either at home or at your church) explore the Christmas story in this way?

 

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