The Nativity Story in Twelve Scenes

Past Times Nativity — Free Christmas Printable DIY!

The following photos, originally posted during the 2018-19 Christmas season, tell the story of the Nativity, from the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to the arrival of the three magi. During the 2020 Christmas season I made the patterns available to congregations, groups, and families. Used in nine different countries, I shared a compilation of the films they made in Nativity Puppets in Quarantine .

During Advent in 2022 I am sharing patterns of Mary and the angel and Joseph,  ending with a final pattern on Christmas Eve, that will allow you to use the puppets in a manger under the Christmas Tree. The full set will be available in a story-and-craft activity book planned in 2023, so the templates are not posted in the Printable Library.

Shadow puppet of Joseph with lantern and pregnant Mary on donkey

Joseph and Mary are traveling to Bethlehem to register for the census. Mary is expecting her baby soon.

Shadow puppets of Joseph, Mary, and the donkey, with Mary stretching her back
Mary is taking a break to stretch her legs. They are nearing Bethlehem.
Shadow puppets of Joseph taking the oxen out off the manger while Mary watches
Mary feels that the baby is coming. But the only room left in Bethlehem is in a stable. Before Mary can give birth Joseph first has to get the ox outside.
Angel Gebriel shows baby Jesus to the donkey and oxen outside the manger
The angel Gabriel, who helped with the delivery,  shows Jesus  to the ox and the donkey before flying off to tell the shepherds.
Shadow puppets of angel waking up the shepherds to tell the news about Jesus' bir
The shepherds are very excited to hear the news.
Shadow puppets of three shepherds admiring the baby in Mary's arms while Joseph standing by
They adore the baby.
Shadow puppets of three wise men seeing the star
Far away three wise men see a star that tells them that a special child is born.
Donkie and oxen keeping bending ovet baby Jesus in the crib
The ox and donkey nibble some hay while keeping Jesus warm.
Shadow puppets of three wise men on camels following the star
The wise men have started their journey to follow the star, bringing gifts for the child.
Joseph and Mary on donkey holding baby
Soon Mary and Joseph are able to take their baby home.
wise men and camels resting sleeping underneath the star
For the wise men it is a long journey. But they do not give up until they find the child announced by the star.
Wise men offering their gifts to the baby in Mary's arms with Joseph behind her
When they finally find Jesus they offer their gifts and give thanks.


One of the three wise man on camels carrying gifts

Helene van Rossum

Author: Helene at Past Times

Helene is the founder of Past Times and a crafter, archivist, and children’s book author. Her passion is bringing history to life for children, classrooms, and families through imagination and play.

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  • Thank you so much and congrats on your work: such an inspiration!
    I am a primary class teacher in Italy and I have a special love for shadow theatre and puppets…
    I will try and do the nativity story this year, I was also wondering if you could post it…

    • Hello Sandra, Thank you for your interest! As I wrote in my blog I am hoping to put a story-and-craft book together using the templates for commercial use, which is why I am not putting the patterns in my library of free printables. But I am making the patterns available to churches, schools, and families who want to use the patterns during the pandemic on condition that they do not share the patterns without my permission and they will provide feedback that will be helpful for the book. I will contact you directly.

    • Hello Bonnie, thank you for reaching out. I am planning to use the patterns for a Nativity story-and-craft book. However, during the pandemic I have made the patterns available to churches, schools, and families, asking only to share their experiences with me to help me with the book. For examples of participating groups visit my post about the Nativity.

  • Hi. My 2nd and 3rd grade class at church would love to be able to use your Nativity Shadow Puppets. Are you still willing to share your templates?

    • Hello Rhea, I have emailed you on the email address provided with the comment. If you have not received it please contact me through the contact form.

  • Hi Helene,
    My family from all over the world has come to stay with us for Christmas after such a long period of not being allowed to see one another and I was inspired to do a shadow puppet show with the kids whilst we are all together.
    Are you offering to sell this Nativity story template?

    • Hello Christina, thank you for your interest, how fun that you want to do this! As long as the craft book has not come out yet I am offering the set for sale for $15, which can be paid by PayPal. I have written you a message to let you know where to send it.

  • I would so love to use this as an outreach ministry for our youth program that we could take to nursing and retirement centers.
    Could we talk about how to get the patterns and any thoughts you would have on how best to do this?

  • Were you able to get the story-and-craft book completed? I am in charge of our church Christmas party and would love to use your book with the nativity story during our party in early December 2023!!

    • Juanita, I’m busy putting the book together but it won’t be ready before this Xmas. I’ll email you how to obtain the patterns.

    • Hi Lara, as long as the book is not available I am indeed selling the puppet patterns. I am emailing you.

    • We’re finishing it up but it won’t be available until next year. Until it’s out I sell the patterns, I will email you.