If there was an award for taking a photo of the most adorable, cute little wooden toys and making them look ridiculously yellow-tinted and ugly... I would win that award.
These photos are horrible - but the little wood nativity scene I made is so, so cute. Smooth, safe blocks of wood with adorable little printed images of the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus) along with the wise men, shepherds, the man who told them he had no room in his inn and more.
I've been looking at nativity scenes for toddlers for a few years and had always planned on purchasing the Little People Nativity version by Fisher Price, but it was never in my budget at the time and never 'got around to it'.
Many years ago, a Mom-blogger posted some wood blocks she had painted and sanded and mod-podged cute toddler/children style pictures on depicting the Holy Family, the barn animals, wise men and more. They were cute so I downloaded her free printables from Prepared Not Scared, and tucked them away 'just in case' as an idea for a kids nativity set. I believe she uploaded the images back in 2010.
I used her free printables (link: https://www.mediafire.com/file/sufud5x5fobj0u5/Nativity_Story.pdf/file).
FOR THE NATIVITY SCENE AS I MADE IT
Prints of the images
Wood blocks (use untreated wood and make sure they are sanded completely smooth)
Cut out your images as detailed as you wish. Lay them on the blocks you wish to use. If you need to resize the images, do this on your computer using your printer's settings to enlarge or shrink.
I will go into a little more detail on how I decided to make our buildings, a little further down the post.
Spread a very thin layer of Mod Podge on a block. Carefully lay your image on it. Gently smooth with your fingertip and then apply another thin layer of Mod Podge over top. It will be cloudy white when wet but dries clear. Don't worry too much about any bristle brush lines, they will smooth out. Be careful not to over-apply. Use the brush to gently smooth out the image and any air bubbles.
Continue with all the blocks. They dry very quickly so by the time you finish, you will be able to go back and apply a second layer of Mod Podge on the blocks. This makes them nice and smooth. You could do a 3rd layer if you wish. I did 2 layers. Once dry, they are ready to be played with.
Laying out my images on the blocks I was thinking of using for each.
Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to a block of wood (I only did the front as I'm going to do other scenes on the backs later.)
I laid out 3 of the large rectangles, and resized and printed the stable image until it was roughly the size I wanted. Then I sliced it into 3 pieces to fit the rectangle blocks. I added a small roof image on top.
Here is everything while it's still wet - with the mod podge just applied and drying.
You can see how I cut the stable and added some palm trees.
I didn't care for the star that was included in the printables so I printed off my own version.
I found the blocks I wanted to use, then I resized and printed the building image about 4 or 5 times in order to get them even close to fitting the blocks. I cut the images out and fit them together willy-nilly in order to get the idea I had in my head.
I wanted to snap a quick picture of the playset and it happens to be 'out' and laid on a short toy bench in the family room as the 16 month old was playing with them yesterday. I lined them up quickly and took some pictures with my old cell phone.
The set is adorable and MUCH cuter and brightly colored than my awful cell phone photos. I promise! Ha ha.
I tried using a flash as I was taking these at 6:am in a poorly lit family room. It washed out the colors but you get an idea anyway. (Remember the star is one I printed myself instead of the one in the free printables so yours would look different if you use her star instead.)
The images are completely flat and very, very smooth. Much brighter in color than my washed out photo using flash.
You might be interested in some of the Amazon links related to items in my post:
Instead of cutting and sanding my own blocks, we already owned Melissa and Doug's building block set so I used this instead!
When I planned this craft, we were almost out of the matte Mod Podge (with less shine). We had glossy mod podge on hand but I wanted the images to stand out and not be marred by extra shine so I bought more of the matte version.
I don't like using sponge brushes with mod podge (personal opinion) - I prefer a wide bristle brush.
This is the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Scene I mentioned that I wanted to buy for the last few years but it never was the right time/budget and never "got around to it" (yet?).