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Make a Nisse

First suggested by Roverway 2024 United Kingdom Contingent
Create a festive Norwegian gnome in this craft activity.

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You’ll need

  • Felt or fabric (to make the hat and body)
  • Faux fur or fluffy fabric for the beard
  • A button, pom pom or wooden bead for the nose
  • A bowl that has at least a 15cm diameter
  • Pencils
  • Dry, uncooked rice
  • Hot glue guns
  • Hot glue gun protective mats
  • PVA glue and glue spreaders (optional)
  • Twine, thin string, wool or small rubber bands   
  • Scissors

Før du begynner (Before you begin)  

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.   

Gjør klar denne aktiviteten (Setting up this activity)

  • You may want to set up tables and chairs for this activity. An adult could be assigned to each table to help with the craft and supervise the hot glue gun. Depending on how many hot glue guns you have, as well as the age of the group, you may want to have a hot glue gun station, where items can be brought and an adult can hot glue the items together. 
  • You may want to make an example, so people can see what they’re making.
  • You may want to measure out the rice and put it into nappy bags, or similar small bags, to prevent the rice from spilling everywhere.  

Roverway is a European event for Scouts and Guides aged 16 to 22, which takes place every three to six years. It is a unique event due to its age range and emphasis on youth-led adventure. 

The next Roverway will take place in Norway in summer 2024. The event is divided into three parts: a semi-independent expedition, a jamboree-style camp and a post-event experience. Find out more on our Roverway 2024 page. 

Norway is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe that has mountains, glaciers and big bodies of water, which are called fjords. Many Norwegians embrace the nature through outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking and skiing. Oslo is the capital of Norway.

Nisse are known by different names in different countries, according to Nordic folklore they can be known as Gonks, Tomte (Sweden), and Tomtenisse or Tonttu (Finland).  

They’ve short, squat bodies, having a long white beard, and pointy hats. They often are thought to look like a garden gnome. The nisse is one of the most familiar creatures of Scandinavian folklore. According to tradition, the nisse lives in the houses and barns on farms, secretly acting as their guardian. If treated well, they protect the people and animals living there from evil and bad luck. They may also aid the chores and farm work. However, they’re known to be short tempered, especially when offended. Once insulted, they’ll usually play tricks, steal items and even hurt the farm animals. 

Nisse are traditionally associated with the Christmas season and winter solstice. You're expected to give the nisse gifts. A traditional gift is a bowl of porridge on Christmas Eve. If the nisse is not given his gift, he might leave the farm or house or engage in mischief, such as tying the cows' tails together in the barn, turning objects upside-down, and breaking things. The nisse likes his porridge with a pat of butter on the top. The nisse will deliver gifts at the door, in accordance with the modern-day tradition of the visiting Santa Claus, enters homes to hand out presents. The tomte/nisse is also commonly seen with a pig, another popular Christmas symbol in Scandinavia. 


Gjennomfør denne aktiviteten (Run the activity)  

  1. Ask if anyone knows anything about Norway, or about Nisse. Here in the UK, a Nisse is rather like a festive gnome, but the history of Nisse stems back to Nordic and Scandinavian mythology. 
  2. Explain that today you’re to make your own on the Nisse. They’ve short, squat bodies, having a long white beard, and pointy hats. 
  3. Everyone should find a space at a table; then collect the materials they need.
  4. To make the body, trace a circle around the bowl onto fabric using a pencil. Carefully cut out the circle, then fill the centre with rice. You may want to measure out the rice and put it into small bags, then tie it. You can trim the excess material, then place the bag in the middle. This helps to prevent the rice from spilling everywhere.
  5. Gather the material around the rice, creating a small ball. You can use an elastic band or the twine to secure it, making sure all the fabric has been included and that rice can’t spill out.
  6. To make the hat, draw out a triangle onto the felt and carefully cut it out. Roll the triangle into a cone, then use the hot glue gun to glue the sides together and make the cone.
  7. To make a beard, draw out a triangle onto the faux fur or fluffy material and carefully cut it out. Use the hot glue gun to fix it in place at the top of the round body you made.
  8. Take a button, pom pom or wooden bead to make the nose. Carefully, use the hot glue gun to glue the nose onto the body. It should sit at the top of the beard.
  9. Next, position the hat on top of the body and use the hot glue gun to attach it in place.
  10. Once you’ve made the Nisse, you could add any extra decorations as you wish. For example, you could add some sequins to the hat or make some feet. 


This activity was all about learning more about Scandinavia and the Nisse, which comes from Norway. What did you learn about them? Can you remember any facts about them? Which fact was your favourite?

We also got to be creative and make a Nisse. What was it like? Was it easy or hard? Are you happy with how it turned out? How easy was it to follow the instructions? Did you work with someone else or help each other? What are you going to do with your Nisse? 


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Glue and solvents

Always supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions that could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.

Hot tools

Tools, such as irons and glue guns, produce a lot of heat. Never touch the hot metal parts. Use them under adult supervision and on a suitable surface, protecting it if necessary. Never leave hot tools unattended and be careful near combustible materials such as wood, textiles, or paper. Make sure there’s a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit (with items to treat burns) nearby. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. You may need to use gloves and safety goggles with glue guns.

Hand and electric tools

Inspect tools for any damage before each use. An adult should supervise people using tools, and people should follow instructions on how to use them correctly and safely. Tools should be properly maintained and kept sharp.

Use an appropriate surface and make sure materials are stable and supported when you’re working on them. You should cut and drill away from the body and in an area clear of other people. Be extra cautious of trailing cables and water when using electric tools. Always use a cordless tool if one’s available.

Manufacturer’s guidelines

All vehicles will be different so always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

  • To make this activity easier, you could precut some of the shapes before the activity.
  • To make this activity harder, you could try hand sewing the fabrics, rather than using the glue gun.  
  • People could work together in pairs or with an adult volunteer or young leader to make their Nisse, such as having a young leader glue it together for them.
  • You could use PVA glue or glue dots, instead of a hot glue gun, to attach the items together. However, it may take longer to dry and be less secure. 

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Explore more Norwegian activities, such as our Stiv Heks game (similar to 'Stuck in the mud') or learning related Norwegian terms and phrases.