How to use your (play mobil) nativity set to explore the Christmas story


A friend of mine has bought a Play Mobil nativity set and asked if I had any ideas on how she could use it to explore the Christmas story with them this Advent.

I LOVE my Play Mobil nativity set, and so I had a few ideas to share with her, and thought you might like to hear them to. Most of this will work with any nativity set of course!

  • Make a ‘set’ for the pieces to ‘play’ in.

I’ve done this using a piece of green felt for the ground and a piece of blue for the sky. I simply drape the blue over a book or board at the back of the play area, and over lap it with the green for the floor.

  • Set out new pieces each week in Advent.

One year I did this and having new pieces each week meant I could tell that part of the story with them and they got to play with those characters for a whole week. I then added new ones, but didn’t remove the old ones, so we ended up with it all out. I put out Mary and Joseph and the angel in week 1, baby Jesus in week 2, shepherds in week 3 and the wise men in week 4.

  • Add additional pieces from your non-nativity Play Mobil

I added a lot of animals, including loads of sheep and lambs, a donkey and cows, plus extra things like baskets, food, table and chair and so on. This way the characters get to play more of the story. I also used plain white people for angels, and lots of vintage (aka as old as me!) people as shepherds and other additional characters. You can get these a lot cheaper secondhand.

  • Tell the story using the figures

As I’ve already mentioned, I used the set to share the story with my children. Usually this would be me re-telling it, but it would work as well reading it from the Bible – this will also highlight what’s not mentioned (e.g. the donkey and the stable!) and also show how the story is in two Gospels.

  • Ask them what else they would like to add

Many children will do this naturally, but if not ask them who or what they might like to add to the set. Often children will add themselves in some form, or other characters they have heard mentioned in other versions of the story. Instead of being super-keen on a Biblically accurate version, this is a good time opportunity chat about what each character brings to the story, where you and they might be in the story, which part of the story might be especially for you and them this year. It’s fab to be able to really connect with the story and allow God to speak through the narrative, even the additional bits.

  • Make a film or mini book of the story

Making scenes for a film or mini book is a good way to explore the story.

I’ve made a mini book of the story using play mobil, and you can make your own using the text-pics I’ve created here. Printing it should only cost you about £6ish with companies like vistaprint or freeprints.

If you’re wanting to make a film, I can recommend Quik as a simple and easy to use video editing app. This could be as simple as you reading the story from the Bible and your children moving the characters as you do so. Leave in their funny remarks and ‘mistakes’ as you’ll enjoy watching those back in a few years time!

I hope that helps! Do share pictures of your set up on Facebook or Instagram tagging @GodVenture so I can see them!