Advent 1 – Joseph, Mary & a donkey

The Donkey’s Diary
Luke 1:26-35, Luke 2:1-6

This year we are doing something a little different for advent. Our four lessons before Christmas will document the Christmas story but through the eyes of the animals that witnessed it. This week we look at the parents of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and their journey with the donkey that took them to Bethlehem.

(5 mins)

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. This is where we start to prepare for the birth of Jesus. Today we are going to look at Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary. Before Jesus was born they went on a very long journey together with a donkey.


This part of the nativity comes from the book of Luke. The Annunciation is in Luke 1:26-35 and the journey itself in Luke 2:1-6.

For younger children you can use this story from the donkey’s perspective.

Donkey’s Diary

(10 mins)

Take in an image of an old census return to show the children. Show what kind of information is collected on it, explain why we have them. Ask if anyone remembers the last census, perhaps their parents let them fill out the information themselves.
In Biblical times Joseph had to return to his hometown with his wife Mary. Ask if anyone knows where their family comes from. In your group imagine what it would be like to have to get all the way back there without any transport.

(5-10 mins)

Talk about how Mary and Joseph might be feeling before the journey. Mary especially was just about to have a baby. They were probably scared, daunted but also hopeful and thankful. How might they have felt when they arrived at Bethlehem and found that there was no room for them for them to stay anywhere? They were probably very worried, yet had trust that God would look after them.


Nativity Scene
(15-25 mins)
We will be making the characters we meet each week to add to this scene, today we will just be making the stable, Mary, Joseph and the Donkey.
You will need:
A box (we used a shoe box)
Colouring pens
Toilet roll tubes (x3)
Brown paper
Blue paper
Elastic bands
Silver card or silver star stickers (not essential)

-Turn the box on its side. This allows you to use the larger part as the back of the stable and also provides a floor for your characters to stand on.
-Using either the colouring pens or a square blue paper create a window on the back wall. If you cut a small cross of brown paper you can stick this over the blue paper. Cut a star shape from the silver card or use a star sticker and place it in the window. Shred the brown paper to use as hay for the stable floor (better yet, use some hay or sawdust if you have some around!)
-To make a manger, cut the toilet roll in half and fold one of the halves. If you have some scraps of fabric you can wrap the manger in this.
– To make Mary, wrap half of a toilet roll with the blue paper. Draw a face on her, attach a circle of blue paper around her head and secure it with an elastic band. To make Joseph do the same but with brown paper.
– To make the donkey, you can print out this cut out onto card, then just colour it in and fold the tabs in (though you might need to stick it down to the stable floor).

Donkey Mask
(10-15 mins)

You will need:
A paper plate
Brown paper or colouring pencils
String or a lolly pop stick

-Cut a quarter out of the paper plate.
– Colour the larger plate brown or stick brown paper onto it.
– Cut out two eye holes.
– Draw and colour in some ears for the donkey, cut them out and stick them onto the mask.
– Do the same for a nose and draw some nostrils on them.
– Either attach it to a lolly pop stick or attach string to make it into a mask.

Next week, the shepherds.

Advent Maze


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