11OVER IN A STABLE Popsicle Nativity Counting Set and Craft

Make Your Own OVER IN A STABLE Popsicle Stick Nativity Set with Author Suzanne Nelson

It’s only October. But it’s never too soon to start thinking about the holidays. Now that my Christmas picture book, Over in a Stable, is out in the world, I’ve caught the Christmas spirit even earlier than usual this year. Over in a Stable, published by Zonderkidz, introduces little ones to counting from 1 to 10 with all of the animals and people gathered to celebrate the first Christmas.

OVER IN A STABLE final cover

Purchase a copy of Over in a Stable here.

To help young readers understand these counting concepts and keep their hands busy with a fun arts and craft project, here are the instructions for making your own Over in a Stable popsible nativity set!

OVER IN A STABLE nativity set

You can use these as puppets while you’re reading the book out loud. You can also use them for endless counting fun!

They’re perfect for Sunday school or at-home use. You can have each student in a Sunday School class make three or four of the animals or people. Or, every member of your family can chose which creatures and people they want to make for a family nativity set!

Most of the supplies you need to make them you’ll probably already have at home. Or, you can always get creative and repurpose common household items to make the set, too.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Craft glue or a glue gun and glue sticks
  • Felt, fabric scraps, or construction paper in a variety of colors
  • Fine-tipped permanent markers in a variety of colors
  • Acrylic paints or spray paint in shades of cream, brown, gray, and white
  • Cooking twine or yarn in any colors you’d like
  • Craft feathers
  • Cupcake liners (optional)
  • Cotton balls (optional)
  • 9 narrow twigs
  • 2 toothpicks
  • 25 large popsicle sticks (plus a few extras, just in case you need a redo)
  • 33 small popsicle sticks (plus a few extras)
  • A medium-sized cardboard box or box lid
  • The Over in a Stable tracing template provided here:  OVER IN A STABLE popsicle nativity tracing templates
  • A copy of Over in a Stable

Step-by-step instructions for making each creature and person in the set:

Before making your creatures and people, print out the tracing template provided above. You can use this to make robes and headpieces for people in the set, and snouts and ears for the animals.

Using acrylic paint or spray paint, paint your popsicle sticks any colors you’d like. Or, you can leave them unpainted.

I chose to paint mine in a variety of skin tones and in the colors of the animals included in the book. Let the popsicle sticks dry completely before moving onto the next steps.

One Little Drummer Boy and Mary and her Two hands

OVER IN A STABLE 1 drummer boy, 2 hands, 3 camels

  1. Draw faces and hair on top of two large popsicle sticks.
  2. Using the tracing template, trace robes and headpieces onto felt or construction paper.
  3. Glue a headpiece around the drummer boy’s and Mary’s heads.
  4. Glue their robes into place.
  5. Cut a baby Jesus from felt or construction paper and glue him into Mary’s arms.
  6. Cut Mary’s hands out of construction paper or felt and glue them so that they’re cradling the baby.
  7. Cut a drum from felt and glue it to the drummer boy’s robe.
  8. Carefully cut two toothpicks in half, and glue them to the top of the drum for drum sticks.
  9. Draw the numbers to the bottom of the popsicles as shown in the photo above.

Three Camels

  1. Cut snouts from felt or construction paper and glue them to the top of three large popsicle sticks.
  2. Cut three humps from paper or felt and glue them to the back of the sticks.
  3. Cut and attach ears.
  4. Draw camel eyes and numbers.

OVER IN A STABLE calves

Four Calves

  1. Draw fun spots on four small popsicle sticks.
  2. Cut snouts from felt or paper and glue them to the sticks.
  3. Cut and attach ears.
  4. Draw eyes and numbers.

5 OVER IN A STABLE donkeys

Five Donkeys

  1. Cut snouts from felt or paper and glue them to five small popsicle sticks.
  2. Cut and attach ears, tufts of hair, and manes.
  3. Draw eyes and numbers.

6 OVER IN A STABLE doves

Six Doves

  1. Cut feathers to glue to the middle of six small popsicle sticks.
  2. Glue a little tuft of feather to the top of each stick.
  3. Draw eyes, beaks, and numbers.

7 OVER IN A STABLE angels

Seven Angels

  1. Using the template, trace and cut wings for each angel. I used cupcake liners for the wings, but you can use regular paper or felt too.
  2. Using the template, trace and cut out the angels’ gowns.
  3. Glue a gown to the front of each large popsicle stick and a pair of wings to the back.
  4. Draw faces and hair for each angel.
  5. Draw the numbers on the bottom of the sticks.

8 OVER IN A STABLE lambs

Eight Lambs

  1. Cut snouts from felt or paper and glue them to eight small popsicle sticks.
  2. Cut and attach ears.
  3. Glue felt or cotton balls to the sticks for the lambs’ wool.
  4. Draw eyes and numbers.

9 OVER IN A STABLE shepherds

Nine Shepherds

  1. Draw faces and hair on top of nine large popsicle sticks
  2. Using the tracing template, trace robes and headpieces onto felt or construction paper
  3. Glue a headpiece around the top of some of the sticks
  4. Glue their robes into place on the front of the sticks
  5. Use twine or yarn to make a belt for each shepherd, as shown in the photo above. You can also use this to make colorful bands for their headpieces, too.
  6. Glue a twig across each shepherd’s robe as a staff
  7. Draw the numbers on the bottom of the popsicles as shown in the photo above.

10 OVER IN A STABLE children

Ten Little Children

  1. Draw faces and hair on top of ten small popsicle sticks.
  2. Using the tracing template, trace children’s robes, tops, pants, and headpieces onto felt or construction paper.
  3. Glue headpieces around the top of the sticks.
  4. Glue robes into place on the front of the sticks.
  5. Draw the numbers to the bottom of the popsicles as shown in the photo above.

You’ve finished all of your Over in a Stable nativity pieces for the counting fun. But if you want to have an entire nativity set, you can also make the three wisemen and Joseph. Simply follow the instructions for the shepherds above, but give the three wisemen their gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold instead of walking staffs.

OVER IN A STABLE Wisemen and Joseph

You’re all done! Hooray! Now you can enjoy using your nativity set as you read Over in a Stable.

Activities to do with your nativity set:

Repurpose a cardboard box or box top for this part. Carefully, cut slits into the top of the box so that there are enough for your entire nativity set.

As you read Over in a Stable, have your children count out the creatures and people on each page.

As they count, they can place the stick figures into slots in the box. Your copy of Over in a Stable makes the perfect backdrop for your entire nativity set!

OVER IN A STABLE nativity set

Role Playing

The fun can go beyond the book with this nativity set!

  • Little ones can make up their own story and put on a puppet show for you with the nativity figurines.
  • Practice simple adding and subtracting by “hiding” a stick figure and having your child count the remaining sticks in a group of animals or people.
  • Read the story of Jesus’s birth from the Bible and have your little ones act out the story as you’re reading it with their stick figures.

Practicing Counting and Recognizing Numbers

When you’re finished reading, you can print out this counting activity sheet for your little one to practice identifying numbers:

Over in a Stable Counting Activity

For more Over in a Stable activities and crafts:

Over in a Stable Nativity Nightlight Craft

Over in a Stable Ornament Craft

 

 

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