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A Children’s Version of the Christmas Story

By John Erickson

Note:  The following play was written for a group of young children.  The intent was to include as many children as possible.  The narrator could be either a teenager or an adult, but someone older than the other participants.  While humor is used in the story, please understand there is no desire for disrespect or to disregard the importance of the message.  Young children often misunderstand words used by grownups when telling the story of Jesus’ birth.  While light is made of that misunderstand, the hope is the message is still clear.

Narrator:  This year we would like to present to you the Christmas story in a very solemn
 manner because this is a very religious experience.  I will read the story as the     youth act it out.  We read from the Gospel of Matthew as follows:

    “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way: When, as his mother, Mary, was
    espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the
    Holy Spirit. 

    (Joseph enters carrying a pillow and lies on the floor snoring.)

    “Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public
    example, was minded to put her away privately.  But while he thought on these
    things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, (Angel enters)

Angel:  Yoo Hoo!  (Shakes Joseph) Are you asleep?

Narrator:  Saying, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife;
    for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she shall bring forth
    a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their

    Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord
    through the prophet, saying, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring
    forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which, being interpreted is,
    “God with us.”

    Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, (Joseph gets up) did as the angel of the
    Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. (As this is read, someone
    comes out as a minister. Mary also enters wearing a vale with two angels as
    witnesses as they pretend to marry.  (The “Wedding March” could be played
    while they pantomime getting married.)

Song:  (One or two verses of a Christmas hymn would be fine)

(Kids enter as Mary, Joseph, Town crier, others and randomly sit on the stage)

    “And it came to pass, in those days, that there went out a decree from…

Kid 1:  Excuse me.  Excuse me…. What is a decree?

Kid 2:  I think you measure it with a thermometer.

Narrator:  That’s a degree.  A thermometer measures degrees.  A decree is a rule or law
    made by someone important.  It’s kind of like a rule made by the school principal. 
    Everyone must obey it or else.

Kid 1:  I got it.  Thanks.

Narrator:  No problem.  Let’s try this again.

    “And it came to pass, in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar
    Augustus that all…..

Kid 2.  Excuse me.  Excuse me….  What was Caesar Augustus’ last name?

Narrator:  What do you mean, what’s his last name?  It’s Augustus.

Kid 3:  Do you have two names or three?  How many here have only two names? 
    Anybody out there (Asking the audience)?  Not very many with two.  So what is
    Caesar Augustus’ last name?

Narrator:  Oh, good grief.  Ummm…. Ummmm.  I think his last name was Pepperoni.  
    May I go on?  (Everyone nods “yes.”)

Kid 2:  Oh wait.  I do have a question.  Was Caesar Augustus Pepperoni more important
    than a principal?

Narrator:  Maybe not THAT important but he probably knew several principals.  Now
    may I go on? 

Everyone:  Of course.


    “And it came to pass, in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar
    Augustus Pepperoni that all the world should be taxed.

Kid 1:  (Unrolls a scroll)  Hear ye!  Hear ye!  All the world needs to go to his own town
    to be taxed.

Kid 2:  Taxed?  That’s weird.  (The other kids agree)

Kid 4:  (Walks on carrying a box of tacks)  “Get your tacks here.  Get ‘em while their

Kid 3:  Oh!!!  Push pins.  Back in Bible times people did strange things.  (They pretend to
    buy tacks and start to tack people to the wall or floor.

Narrator:  What are you doing?

Kid 1:  We’re acting out the story and tacking everyone.

Narrator:  That’s T-A-X, tax.  They have to pay money to the government because Caesar
 Augustus Pepperoni said so.

Kid 2:  It still seems weird.  Why would people pay money to the government?  Do they
    know what to do with it?

Narrator:  It wasn’t MY idea.  Back to the story:

    “And this was first made when Quirinius was governor or Syria.”

Kid 3:  I don’t remember talking about Quirinius in school.  I don’t even remember Syria
    being a state.  Is it next to Mississippi?

Narrator:  Syria is not part of the United States.  It’s in Europe, I think.  Or is it in the
    Middle East?  Oh well, back to the story.

    “And Joseph also went up from Galilee.”

Kid 4:  Um.  Joseph who?

Narrator:  (Irritated)  What do you mean, Joseph who?  It’s Jesus earthly dad.

Kid 2:  And his full name is….?

Narrator:  Joseph Carpenter.  Ok?

Kid 3:  What’s his middle name?

Narrator:  “The.”  He was Joseph The Carpenter.  Are you happy now?  May I go on with
    the story?

All:  (Nod Yes)

Narrator:  “And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea,
    unto the city of David….”

Kid  1:  Who….

Narrator:  Don’t start.  I don’t care what his middle or last name is.  Got that?  You’re
    missing the point of the story.

Kid 4:  Which is….?

Narrator:  Joseph and Mary have to go to Bethlehem to be taxed.

Kid 2:  It sure took you a long time to say that.

Narrator:  Are you ready to listen and act this out?

All (Nod Yes)

Narrator:  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea,
    unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house
    and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with

Kid 4:  What is espoused?  Does it hurt? 

Kid 1:  Maybe she was diseased.

Kid 3.  It must mean she was a teacher because it says she is great with children.

Narrator:  It means they were engaged and she was great with child, in other words she
    was about to have a baby.

    “And so it was that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she
    should deliver.”

Kid 2:  Did she work for the post office?  During Christmas my uncle…..

Narrator:  No.  She didn’t work for the post office, or Fed Ex, or UPS.  It means it was
    time for her to have her baby. 

All:  Oh!

Narrator:  “And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling
    clothes, and ….

Kid 3:  What brand is swaddling clothes?  Why didn’t she use Nike or Adidas?

Narrator:  Because they hadn’t been invented yet and beside Joseph and Mary were too
    poor to afford them.

Kid 1:  They could have gone to Good Will.

Narrator: Swaddling clothes are baby clothes.  Are we going to do the story or are you
    going to continue to ask questions?

Kid 2:  Go ahead.  We don’t want to stop you.

Kid 4:  (Whispering loudly)  Grumpy, isn’t he?

All (Shake their heads “Yes”)

Narrator:  Pay attention:

    “And so it was that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she
    should be delivered.  And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him
    in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for
    them in the inn.

Kid 3:  Why didn’t she go to the hospital to have the baby?

Kid 2:  They probably couldn’t afford it so they decided to have the baby in the hotel but
    it was full.

Kid 4.  They should have called ahead for reservations. It always helps to plan ahead.

Narrator:  They didn’t have hospitals back then nor did they have telephones.

Kid 1:  My dad makes reservations on the internet.  They could have done it that way.

Narrator:  They didn’t have internet either, or radio, or television, or CDs, or MP3s.

Kid 3:  What would they do?  Spend the day at their play station?  Do homework?  Their
    life must have been very boring.

Narrator:  I don’t think they had a hard time finding things to do.  Can we go on?  Let’s
    talk about the shepherds.  (Kids leave the stage)

Choir: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks but start of the first line as:

    While Shepherds washed their socks by night all seated on the ground….

Narrator:  Hold it!  Hold it!  While shepherds washed their socks by night?

Choir member:  Well they needed something to do since they didn’t’ have radio, or

Narrator:  Not you too!!!  This is a serious story.  Try again.

Choir:  While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

(Shepherds and sheep enter.  Shepherds are pretending to wash their socks)

Narrator:  Thank you.  The book of Luke tells us:

    And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch
    over their socks, I mean, flocks by night.  And, lo, an angel of the Lord came
    upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore
    afraid.  (Angel enter)

And the angel said unto them.

Angel:  Yoo Hoo!  Hey guys, listen up.

Narrator:  (Irritated)  And the angel said to them…

Angel:  Howdy!!!

Narrator:  (Louder)  And the ANGEL said to them……. (Angel waves at the narrator but
    says nothing)  Fear not: (Looks at the angel) for, behold, I bring you good tidings
    of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city
    of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you: 
    You shall find the babe wrapped in ….

Angel:  Nikes

Narrator:  Why me?  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a
    manger. (Other angels enter)   And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude
    of heavenly host, praising God, and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on
    earth, peace, good will toward men.”

Angels:  Glory to God  (Angels act like they’re flying around)

(Angels leave)

Narrator:  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the
    shepherds said one to another, let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this
    thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known unto us.

Song:  Glory Hallaujah  (Words and music available)  Some other Christmas hymn would
    also work.

(Shepherds leave during the song and the manger scene is set up then the shepherds and sheep enter)

Narrator:  And they came with haste and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a
    manger, and when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which
    was told them concerning this child, and all they that heard it wondered at those
    things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things,
    and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and
    praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto

(Everyone stays where they are)
(Someone is carrying a large star on a stick and holding it up in the air on the west side of the church.)

    Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king,
    behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that
    is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the east…For we have
    seen his star in the east… In the east….

Star:  Woopsy.  (Crosses to the other side of the church near the manger scene.

Narrator:  For we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.

Song:  We three kings

(During the song the three wise men and a camel walk slowly up the isle from the back of the church.  The star is waved back and forth and the holder of the star says:

Star:  Over here boys.  This is the spot.

(When the wise men reach the front of the church but not on the platform Herod walks out in front of them)

Narrator:  When Herod, the king, had heard these things, he was troubled, and all
    Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of
    the people together, he demanded of them where the Christ should be born.  And
    they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea; for thus it is written by the prophet,
    “And though Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes
    of Judah; for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people, Israel. 
    Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, inquired of them
    diligently what time the star appeared.  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said,
    “Go and search diligently for the young child, and when ye have found him, bring
    word again, that I may come and worship him also.  When they had heard the
    king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before
    them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  (Star moves around
    and the wise men follow.)  And when they were come into the house, they saw the
    young child with Mary, his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him; and when
    they had opened their treasurers, they presented unto him gifts: gold, and
    frankincense, and myrrh.

(At this point a teen, holding a microphone) says something like:

Teen:  Jesus probably would like the same kind of toys you would.  If he got the same
    presents you would like, what would you ask for?  (Asks the little kids)

(After the young children have talked about their gifts then the teen would say:)

Do you know why we celebrate Jesus birth?  (Lets kids respond).  The reason we
have Christmas is because God gave to us His very best gift, Jesus.  We all do bad     things, even grown-ups and that sin keeps us from going to heaven when we die     here on earth.  But God sent Jesus to make it possible for us to go to heaven when
we die if we believe that Jesus came so we can be forgiven of the wrong things
we do.  If we ask God to forgive us and make Jesus part of our life, He will show
us how we should act and what we should do.  He will also help us tell others how
they can be forgiven from the things they have done wrong and go to heaven like
us.  Isn’t that a great gift?  That’s why we like to tell the Christmas story every
year. Sometimes we may tell it in a funny way, but we believe it is true and it is
for everyone who will ask for forgiveness, believe Jesus will forgive them, and
tell others about this wonderful gift we have been given.

Song:  O Come Let Us Adore Him.