One of my favorite Christmas carols is a sweet Old English tune called The Friendly Beasts. In this, four of the animals in the stable tell how they gave a gift to the infant Jesus: a cow gives the manger and hay, the sheep gives wool, the dove coos him to sleep.
Are you familiar with this song? Here’s a video of it, for those who may be unfamiliar.
When I was young, this became our family Christmas song. My sister and I learned the harmony, and our family sang together at my Dad’s company party and the church Christmas party. I’ve always loved the reminder that Christ’s birth was witnessed by humble animals.
I made the Christmas song “The Friendly Beasts” (and the picture book) more real for my 3-year-old daughter by creating a nativity textures play basket for the Little People nativity set!
The three main “ingredients” in this nativity basket are hay (which is represented by some strands of raffia), wool (which is represented by a scrap of white faux fur), and white feathers. I suppose I could have found real hay but I did not. I was a bit late in the season to track it down. I think the raffia works, is less messy, and is more useful to have around the house!
Strawberry loved playing with the three textures. She insisted we make a collage page, too, and enjoyed gluing the various items on the page.
She especially loved hugging and petting the fluffy fur and the soft white feathers. She did not think the hay would be very comfortable. We talked about how the manger probably had a lot to make it soft, because, like our basket, the wooden planks of the manger would not have been very comfortable!
We sang the verses over and over.
She loved bringing the animals and figures from the nativity set into our nativity textures play basket. She had the figures play and talk to each other. She pointed out, “Mom, baby Jesus already has some hay in his manger!”
Would you love to see more sensory activities related to favorite Christmas songs?
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