The Nativity, and other Christmas stories
by Alexandra Palmer
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect on our favourite Christmas stories and the key points of the Nativity.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a list of favourite Christmas films and books.
- Have available a video of a short Nativity play that is acted out by children in a modern-day setting.
An example called ‘The Christmas Story: Kids Perspective’ is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s56Xa_C54I (4.07 minutes long). In this example, the donkey is a cart and the shepherds are dressed as cowboys!
- Optional: you may wish to print multiple copies of the sheet for the extension activity that accompanies this assembly (Christmas Stories - extension activity)
- Ask the children, ‘Do any of you have any favourite Christmas films or books?’
Listen to a range of responses and discuss. You may wish to have a vote for the most popular film and book.
Examples of Christmas films might include The Grinch, Elf, Nativity!, Arthur Christmas, The Nutcracker, The Polar Express and the Home Alone series.
Examples of Christmas books might include The Night Before Christmas, The Jolly Christmas Postman, The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, Pick a Pine Tree, Elmer’s Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Mog’s Christmas.
- Share with the children your favourite Christmas film and book.
- Ask the children, ‘Why do we celebrate Christmas?’
Remind them that Christians around the world celebrate the birth of God’s son, Jesus, at Christmastime.
Explain to the children that you are going to show them a short Nativity play.
Show the YouTube video, ‘The Christmas Story: Kids Perspective’.
- Ask the following questions based on the video.
- What was the name of Jesus’ mum? (Answer: Mary)
- Who told Mary she was going to have God’s son? (Answer: an angel. It doesn’t say it in the video, but some of the children may know that the angel’s name was Gabriel.)
- What was the name of the town that Mary and Joseph had to visit? (Answer: Bethlehem. It doesn’t say it in the video, but Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem so that they could be counted by the Romans, who were carrying out a census. This meant that the town was very busy, so Mary and Joseph struggled to find a place to stay.)
- Where was Jesus born? (Answer: in a stable)
- What word do we use for the object in the stable that held the animals’ food? (Answer: a manger)
- Who were Jesus’ first visitors? (Answer: the shepherds)
- Who else visited baby Jesus? (Answer: the three kings, who are also known as the three wise men)
- What did the three kings use to guide them on their journey? (Answer: a star)
Time for reflection
Say to the children, ‘The Nativity video that we’ve just watched doesn’t show this, but what were the gifts that the three kings gave baby Jesus?’ (Answer: gold, frankincense and myrrh)
Go on to explain the meaning of these gifts.
- Gold was a sign of Jesus being a king.
- Frankincense was used in worship, so this gift meant that Jesus was going to be worshipped all over the world.
- Myrrh was a perfume that was used when people died. This gift meant that Jesus was going to have a special death, which happened 33 years later. This is why Christians celebrate Easter.
Thank you for the many films that entertain us at Christmastime.
Thank you for the books that we can read during the holidays.
Thank you for the Nativity story, which celebrates the birth of baby Jesus.
We pray that we all have an exciting Christmas, as we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus.
‘Away in a manger’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnwO_0DrpCk (1.59 minutes long)
- Using the sheet that accompanies this assembly (Christmas Stories - extension activity), encourage the children to think of a title for their own Christmas story and design their own characters or scene.