Dan and I were trying to come up with a family tradition to do with our kids each year. We want them to look back and think about things that we did with them and how much fun it was!
With my experience with kids, I have found that if you make things fun (like a project), they get more out of it. I have seen the Gingerbread House kits at the store and even have a few friends that have posted pictures of their families making them together on facebook. I loved that idea, but I want our tradition to incorporate the "real" meaning of Christmas so we are teaching them why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
So what did we come up with? Making an edible Nativity Scene! (No, we did not eat it!)
This was such a fun project and we all had a great time participating in making it! I cheated and used a hot glue gun to get the graham crackers to stick to the milk carton so technically our nativity scene is not completely edible.
Since Dan is so creative, I gave him the job of making all the little people and most of the animals. Trinity was such a great little helper and she made a few funny looking sheep of her own. :) She also helped him add details to the little people and positioned them in their places.
Okay, so Nehemiah didn't do much of anything to help this year! :) He watched and looked cute doing it! We would sneak him graham crackers to snack on and he would walk back and forth from the living room and dining room to see what we were up to while making a crumb trail all over.
Here is how our little people turned out:
Mary is on the left and Joseph is on the right. Keep in mind that she just had a baby so it's perfectly okay that she is so large. They are made from large marshmallows and have pretzels as arms. The heads are gummy smiley faces and they are draped with fruit roll-ups. Baby Jesus is laying in a lovely manger made from the inside of a mint oreo cookie and the edges are pretzels. (I came up with that one!) His swaddling clothes are fruit roll-ups...strawberry flavored!
The angel is made from the same materials but has a large marshmallow cut in half to make the wings. The star is hot glued (yep, that was my part again) and I used pretzels and a M&M for it.
This is the shepard (with a really long neck), 2 sheep, and the donkey that Mary rode on...complete with a little fruit roll-up saddle.
The 3 wise men have crowns of gummy smiley faces.
I know this doesn't "go" in a Nativity Scene, but Charlie Brown was a very important part of our project. My Aunt gave this to me and it quotes the whole story from Luke that explains that Jesus was born. Trinity likes to play with it but it was a fitting and fun way to hear the Christmas story!
After that, Dan and I briefly talked about how we celebrate that Jesus was born on Christmas. It's not about presents or Santa, it's about Jesus! Dan did a good job of showing her how the wise men came to see him and how the angel appeared. It's hard to explain to a 3 year old all the details of it, but I think we did pretty good. Now when we ask her why we celebrate Christmas, she responds, "Baby Jesus!" I think our goal was accomplished!
When we were done, she played with our nativity scene for a long time. She made all of the wise men and animals face baby Jesus. It was so sweet!
She asked Dan if we could do that again and it cracked me up when he said, "Yep, we'll do it again about this time next year!"
What a fun family tradition we started this year! I can't wait to see how much they will learn from this, how involved they will become, and how much more creative we get each year. :)