What is The Nativity Story?
The nativity story is a poignant story for the Christian faith that is about the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, and is told in the book of Luke 2 in the Bible. It is more than just a series of events: it also draws our attention to the moral significance of the events and the values behind the story. The Christian faith believes Jesus came to Earth for all the people of the world to shine the light of God, while Mary and Joseph’s commitment symbolises the unwavering faith they had in God. As nativity plays have been, and still are, so prevalent within schools in the UK, many will already have a grasp on the nativity story, or at least the main elements, such as the stories told in our KS1 nativity story plays. Nevertheless, if you’re not 100% confident with what the nativity story is or just need a quick refresher before December approaches, have a read of our quick guide.
The Nativity Story in Steps
The Angel Gabriel Visits Mary
The nativity story begins with the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary. The angel Gabriel informs Mary that she will become pregnant and give birth to a son who will be named Jesus, and he will be the son of God.
The Long Journey to Bethlehem
Following the call by the Romans for a census of the people – which was to involve people returning to their original home town – a now heavily pregnant Mary and her husband, Joseph, take the long and arduous journey from their town of Nazareth to Bethlehem, with Mary riding on the back of a donkey and Joseph walking beside her.
No Room at the Inn
Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem to find no rooms available. Eventually, an innkeeper allows them to stay the night in their stable and, when Mary gives birth to Jesus, they lay him down in the only place they can, a manger of the animals filled with hay.
The Shepherds Are Visited by an Angel
On the surrounding hills overlooking the town of Bethlehem, the shepherds notice a bright star shining above the town: it is then that they are visited by an angel who instructs them to follow the star and there they will find the son of God. When the shepherds arrive at the stable, they pledge to love the son of God.
The Three Wise Men Visit King Herod
Far away to the east of Bethlehem, three wise men also see the bright star. They believed this was a sign that the new king had been born and, thinking it to be a child of King Herod, they visit him to seek the baby. King Herod is troubled by this and becomes jealous, and so he demands the wise men find the new king and return to him with news of his whereabouts.
The three wise men continue their journey and find the stable in which Jesus is laid, bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In a dream, each wise man is separately warned that King Herod is a threat to Jesus and, therefore, they must not tell Herod about the birth of the son of God, Jesus.
How Can the Nativity Story Be Taught to Children?
Whether you are hoping to teach the nativity story to early years children, to KS1 and on to KS2, the most fun, interactive and memorable way to involve them in the true Christmas story is through the Christmas nativity play!
There are wonderfully festive choices to stay as true to the nativity story as possible, such as the illuminating tale of the Stable by Starlight, or the comedic tale of a Bethlehem resident intrigued by the events taking place in Twinkle Town.
But, teaching the story of the nativity doesn’t always need to be so strictly confined to the specific series of events. Add a little spice, some creativity and more music and you have a fabulous selection of imaginative nativities such as our Bethlehem Bake-Off, a nativity story involving an eventful baking competition! And, as the animals within the nativity story played their own part, our wonderfully colourful cast in Niki Davies’s Higgledy Piggledy Nativity is sure to entertain the audience and cast alike.
It is true that involving music in learning helps students to retain information more effectively. Take a look at our 15 brilliant school nativity ideas where we discuss the best musical nativity plays that are suitable for each age range. This means that teaching the nativity story can be fun and enjoyable no matter how old the children are! And, though it may take a little more effort on the part of the school teaching staff, it is well worth involving your school in a nativity play as the children come away with memories of the Christmas story to last a lifetime.
Looking for More Ideas on How to Teach the Nativity Story?
Although a nativity production is an excellent way (and our favourite way!) to teach the festive story, there are plenty of additional teaching methods to explore. There is a multitude of interactive activities you can involve the children in during the run up to your nativity production that will help them better understand the importance of nativity for Christians.
- Reading through the nativity short story together with your class by either allowing each child to read a short sentence or simply involving them in discussion after each main event that takes place. Ask for their interpretation and then explain the significance of what is taking place. This will help the children, particularly the younger ones, with their understanding of the series of events, a key preparation for taking part in a nativity play for early years.
- Collectively create a map of Mary and Joseph’s journey all the way from their home town of Nazareth to Bethlehem and the stable. You could then scale the map up and use it as a backdrop for the nativity play!
- Another great way to fit in the nativity play preparations is to involve the children in decorating the nativity scene. Can your children name all those who were present in the stable after the birth of Jesus? This would be an ideal set design idea for Hay Presto, a funny and heart-warming take on the nativity story and set around the stable.
- Create and decorate posters showing the Christian values behind the Christmas nativity story. This is a great way for the children to understand the symbolic importance of the nativity.
For most schools, it is a requirement for religious studies to be a part of the children’s curriculum and the Christian nativity story can be a wonderfully interactive and creative teaching with boundless activities to help the children’s understanding. Our primary school nativity plays are tailored to be enjoyable and bring out the best in each age group as we understand their needs can be so different.
If you would like more information or need help selecting the perfect nativity play for your school, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team!