Here's the link on Pinterest in case you want to pin it yourself. Speaking of Pinterest, I have a whole board on my Pinterest devoted to the Nutcracker. Check it out when you click HERE.
Jingle Bells ACtivities
With KDG and 1st grade they can often sing the chorus with ease but get lost on the verses. So, instead of trying to get them to sing all the lyrics of the verses I have them just play jingle bells instead. Kids are told to keep a steady beat while I sing the verse and then they come in and sing the chorus with me. One thing I added was after the verse before the chorus I add an "OOOOOOOOOO" before we go on to sing "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way!" I put a little fermata on the "O" and all students stop their steady beat to make an O with their arms over their head. It's cute and shakes things up a bit. We can sing like this for a while so I'll often sing all the verses while they keep the steady beat. They jump in when they hear me get to the chorus part.
Check out the image on the left to see a little visual explanation of how we play and sing through this song. Just click to enlarge.
the 12 Days of Christmas
The Dreidel Song
We talk about the dreidel a little bit, we sing through the song, we add silly little actions where the kids spin around on their spot for the chorus (like human-sized dreidels), and then we get ready to move on. I always make sure to talk about the cultural connections and history of the songs and I think that helps kids make connections to the outside world. I often teach this song with 5th graders. In their 4th grade year I show the "Sound of Music" and so when we get to the dreidel song/game I can make a connection back to SOM and some of the history we learned then. This game is also a great activity because later in their 5th grade year my students will watch "Fiddler on the Roof."
I've been teaching in Kansas and Michigan and students don't have too many opportunities to learn about Jewish people. I try and make as many connections as I can so that kids know more and empathize more. Last year I taught in Kansas City and in that city there was a shooting at the Jewish Community Center. You'd better believe that we had a very interesting and thoughtful conversation when we learned the Dreidel song.
A Few More Quick Ideas
Carol of the Bells
Edit 12/3/16 - I wrote a blog post all about Carol of the Bells! Check it out here.
EDIT: Also, check out this ad which features "Carol of the Bells" as played by NBA players with basketballs. Don't tell the kids what's play, just show the video and see if they can figure out which song is being "performed." :D