If you watch Nativity! with frustrated and underachieving primary school teacher Mr Maddens then you’ll immediately identify with him and know the pain he’s going through. It’s a brilliant film to watch sometime in autumn as it will gear you up for the second-half term and what you are up against especially if you don’t have a teaching assistant like Mr Poppy.
Yes a nativity can be a terrifying prospect, especially if you have never done one and that’s why there are some many ready-made productions and scripts available to help save your reputation and prevent you from getting a one star rating in the local rag. Although there are plenty of Christmas plays to choose from, not all of them quite live up to their own hype which means mayhem is never really that far away.
What makes a good nativity? They are simple, thought-provoking, entertaining, and flexible enough to make changes right up to the last second. Out of the Ark Music do this rather well and have created two more for their rather impressive collection of 30 Christmas plays which I can highly recommend. If you are looking for humour then you have come to the right place.
One of the best-loved productions I have seen over the years that never seems to lose its popularity is “Whoops-a-Daisy Angel”. This is a great nativity but if a school keeps repeating it year on year, then people soon notice and jaded teachers lose the passion to put on a show-stopper. Perhaps it’s time to rejuvenate your own nativity plans and if so then the author of this popular play has now also penned “Angel Express” for KS1.
“Angel Express” follows the excitement of a choir of angels as they hastily practise a new song for the birth of baby Jesus and the question is whether the conductor can prepare them in time with headlines distracting everyone such as ‘Mary and Joseph Leave for Bethlehem’ and ‘Enormous Star Seen In The East’.
This is a 25 minute triumph and pitched perfectly for children ages 3-6 years. You get a Teacher’s book with a cast list, staging ideas, curriculum links, script and music score and lyrics for 7 songs and the accompanying CD has all the vocal tracks which are beautifully sung by children and professional backing tracks. This is yet another twist on the traditional nativity story but one to applaud and revel in as a piece of creative thinking that you could run with in a series of literacy lessons for older learners. You have speaking parts for 29 children but this can be easily adapted and there’s room for you to adapt the simple but well-written script to fit your needs without a headache. The songs are easy to learn and happy and bouncy enough to be catchy for ‘take home and practise’ without driving mum and dad round the bend. There’s a solo-singing opportunity for some brave soul and whole-cast songs too so it’s all here, ready to go and very doable with even the feistiest of classes.
This resource is available as book and CD or digitally as a Digital Download. If you go the digital route then a read-only PDF of the Teacher’s Book is available which is a shame because I’m sure loads of teachers would like an editable version to save having to type everything out with their children’s names inside and for obvious customisation. The book and audio CD version is priced at a remarkably decent £19.95 which would impress even Scrooge.
Another brand new resource from the Out of The Ark stable is “Baubles!” and this too is another production leading the way in making sure we don’t all forget ‘the true meaning of Christmas’. It has been written with creative flair and invention from an experienced teacher, musician and composer and the author of” Hey Ewe!” which is another top-rated nativity.
It’s a fabulous script and centres on Mr Potts the school caretaker and some helpful mice who work together to make some beautiful baubles to help children rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. It’s fun all the way because you have a temperamental donkey, directionally challenged kings and a sheep that sleeps through an angel visitation. The songs are far from traditional but the children will love them with opportunities for four solo performances as well as plenty of fun en masse singing. What makes the resource stand out even more is that the CD ROM is a Word on Screen™ resource which means you can display- lyrics on any screen or through digital projector which makes it ideal for assembly or classroom practice especially as the words are highlighted and synchronised with the music. It contains all 8 songs together with a printable script, lyrics and bauble templates. At 27 minutes long this production too is the perfect length for KS1 nativity.
I’m hard pressed to suggest one over the other as they are both quality nativity resources that would be perfect for your end-of-term celebrations. Both offer excellent scripts, both offer songs and music with high production values and both will save you from ever having a nativity nightmare.