Away in a Manger – Gifts of Christmas

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With Christmas quickly approaching, children are eager to rip open beautifully packaged boxes and bags to see what’s inside. This Away in a Manger Gifts of Christmas activity is a great way to allow children to use their sense of touch and introduce this sweet Christmas song.

For more ideas, see our Away in a Manger Singing Time Ideas post!

Cute idea to teach Away in a Manger Gifts of Christmas with hands on activities inside and object lessons for LDS Primary Music Leaders Singing Time.

When I was first called to be primary chorister, I brought a gift bag to primary with a blanket inside to teach The Holy Ghost. The kids were so eager to find out what was inside the blanket!

I asked for a few brave volunteers to reach inside the bag and guess what was inside. By using their sense of touch, the primary children were able to form an association with blankets and The Holy Ghost, which helped greatly as they learned the song.

This Christmas, I’m bringing this activity back by adding a few items to the bag to teach Away in a Manger.

Away in a Manger Gifts of Christmas

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The idea behind this activity is pretty simple. Start by gathering some items around your house that could represent different parts of the Nativity scene. It’s like a What’s in the Bag activity!

For example, you might pull out your coziest blanket to represent the donkey that Mary rode on before she gave birth to Jesus. You may also have some extra twinkling lights lying around. Add those in to represent the star. You could also bring in some hay to represent the manger that Jesus laid in.

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Ideas for Items to Include:

  • Christmas Lights – pull out your extra twinkling lights from home or grab some from the store while you’re doing your Christmas shopping!
  • Blanket – any fuzzy blanket will be perfect.
  • Hay – I just bought some decorative shred at the Dollar Tree, but you can also find fake plastic hay on amazon for pretty cheap.
  • Large Stick – You can use this to represent a shepherd staff
  • Toy animals – You could use these to represent the animals that were in the stable when Jesus was born. Small, plastic animals work great if you have some laying at the bottom of your toy chest.

After choosing 2-3 items, place each item in a gift bag and cover them with tissue paper. Place the wrapped items at the front of the room when you start primary. Ask the children about the best gift they’ve ever received.

Away in a Manger - Gifts of Christmas Easy singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders IMG 5495

Invite a few children to reach inside the bag and guess what’s inside. After a few guesses, allow children to open the gifts one at a time. You might choose to pass these items around the room to let every child feel them.

After all the gifts have been opened, begin a short discussion by asking some questions about the items they opened. Basically, you want to transition from the gifts to how the items relate to the birth of Jesus. I’ve included some example questions below.

Sample Questions:

  • What does the blanket feel like? What does the hay feel like? How about the lights?
  • Did you know that when Jesus’ mother, Mary rode on a donkey before Jesus was born? Do you think the donkey’s fur would have been as soft as this blanket?
  • When Jesus was born, there was a bright star in the sky that helped shepherds find him. How can you share the light of Jesus with others this Christmas season?
  • Where do you find hay? Did you know that Jesus was born in a barn?
  • What do you think it would have felt like to be there when Jesus was born?
Away in a Manger - Gifts of Christmas Easy singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders IMG 5493

After the discussion, you might ask children if they can think of a Christmas song that talks about the birth of Jesus. Then, teach the words of “Away in a Manger” using this simple Away in a Manger flip chart.

Extension Activities:

  • While singing the first verse, invite a few children to stand at the front and hold the items up.
  • To teach verse 2 of the song, compile sound clips that correlate with the song. For example, you might find the sound of cows and a baby cry. Have the children listen to these sounds and then teach them the words.
  • While singing the song, pass around the items in a ‘hot potato’ style. When the music stops, invite the child to share their favorite part about Christmas.
Away in a Manger - Gifts of Christmas Easy singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders paper bag lungs 1

For another hands on and fun way to use bags in Primary, see this engaging I Know My Father Lives What Makes Someone Alive idea!

Away in a Manger Gifts of Christmas Singing Time Lesson Plan

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For another fun way to introduce Away in a Manger, try out this Away in a Manger Silent Video. This activity is great for visual learners and helps bring the Spirit into the lesson.

Away in a Manger - Gifts of Christmas Easy singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders nativity 2

Did your primary kiddos enjoy this activity? Have some additional ideas? Share in the comments below!

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