Each kid had to count to themselves as they listened to the story and keep their number a secret. Then I gave them a list where the rooms of our house were numbered and they matched their number to a room. That's where they needed to look for Mary and Joseph.
The Jewish people have had mixed concerns about census-taking throughout their history. They have conducted censuses but it was concerning for many ancient Jews and still is for certain groups today. The Old Testament contains a story of David conducting a census which drew God's judgment (2 Samuel 24:1-25 & 1 Chronicles 21:1-30). The text is a challenge textually and theologically, and so it has been interpreted in various ways by the Rabbis throughout history, even in Jesus' day.
Basically, this led Rabbis to the idea that a census might be sinful. David's census could have been prideful, seeing the people as his instead of God's or trusting in the numbers instead of God. Another possibility is his failure to use a half-shekel in the census, therefore counting shekels instead of people. This avoids declaring any ownership of the people since David was not counting them, but coins. A third possibility is that David was counting in order to institute forced labor for Solomon's temple building.1 Regardless, Jews see this troubling story as reason to be cautious and careful in census procedures and purpose. It is hard to imagine the Romans cared anything about their concerns.
So the kids counted and found Mary and Joseph. With the figurines, they discovered replica of a half-shekels, (pictured above) as a keepsake gift. Day 2 will explore the anger that was possibly brewing when Joseph and Mary were going to Bethlehem over Caesar's census. This census took place around 7/6 B.C. The next one we know of took place about ten years later and there was revolt!
1. Shimon Bakon, "David's Sin: Counting the People," Jewish Bible Quarterly vol. 41, no. 1 (Jan-Mar. 2013) 53-54.