Strategies for a Kindergarten Holiday Program

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    Hi everyone,

    I am in my second year teaching general music and am in the process of putting together a holiday program for my kindergarten classes. I wanted to probe around to get some good strategies for teaching the more complicated holiday songs, such as “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. My issue is that my students have a lot of words to memorize in a short amount of time. We do a 6 day schedule at my school, so I see each of my 4 kindergarten classes once a cycle for 50 minutes. I have some strategies I use to help my students memorize the lyrics, but I want to see what the community here has done with songs like these when it comes to memorization for performance (or if you use icons during performance etc.)

    Thank you!


    Hi Joshua!
    I can relate to this! I teach an “all school” winter sing along assembly each year, and it’s always a challenge to come up with songs that the littles can tackle, but not be too boring for the olders. As such, it sounds like you are doing a strict K program, so here are my thoughts…

    1. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE! Even on risers, you can incorporate some very basic choreography into songs that help kids memorize lyrics. This is a MUST for almost ALL of my kinder curriculum.
    2. Separate the song by class: ie: class A sings verse 1, all sing chorus, class B sings verse 2, all sing chorus, etc….
    3. Bring special guests… special adults (ie: their teacher, or especially community/district stakeholders!) can come dressed up in something you provide (a fun hat or something?) and sing a verse or song with kids.
    4. Incorporate lyric-writing (composition)…. change the words of a harder song, use the same tune, and make it tie-in with regular-ed topics or your theme.
    5. Use songs that have repeating parts: ie: “Feliz Navidad”, “Jingle Bells”, “Must Be Santa”, etc. Don’t forget to move!
    6. Check out resources from Music K-8 magazine (Plank Road Publishing), as they write great inclusionary winter-y songs in every winter issue. I think I have like, 6 years worth of their stuff, and it’s worth every penny for the subscription… however you can just go online and buy individual stuff for cheap!
    7. Throw in songs that are not even wintery- but are just plain fun to sing. Your students and your audience won’t care that you snuck those in! 🙂 In my school, the rule is, every concert has to have at least ONE song that makes their parents cry…. the sappy-spotlight!!
    8. Assign actual kinders (with teacher help in picking who..) speaking parts. Short lines, that kinda rhyme, and are easy to memorize. Do AS LITTLE talking yourself, as you possibly can. Teach kids ahead of time how to use a mic.
    9. Shakey-Bangy Things!! in modest amounts: tambourines, jingles, egg shakers, oh my!
    10. Print lyrics or PDF them, and give to all adults that those kinders come in contact with… their reading teacher, English Language teacher, etc… will thank you!
    11. Make a CD of all those songs (with someone singing it!) and have teachers play in the background during “free choice” time during regular class. Give one to PE guy, and have him play in the background of PE activities. Play it in the cafeteria during lunch!
    12. Send home a note in the weekly school newsletter about words to songs, or where to find the YouTube links so kids can practice at home.
    13. Make your own classroom website, and include all the practice materials.

    Well… sheesh, that’s 13 ideas. I’m sure people have many more! Good luck, and if you want me to give you all “my stuff”, just email me! That goes for anyone else reading this, too! 🙂

    Happy Festivus!
    Val Ellett, NW Representative, NAfME Council for General Music Education


    Val has given you some wonderful suggestions! Thanks, Val!!

    I will just chime in with this: my most successful “programs” with very young children were not programs at all but rather informational sessions where I presented what we do in music class along with explanations as to why the activities are important for musical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. These “informances” we well received by parents and resulted in an increase in support from parents, teachers, and administrators as they realized that we do so much more than singing songs and playing games in music class and that we are professional educators who give thought and consideration to student needs as we plan lessons.

    Good luck with your holiday activities!!!

    Dr. Amy K. Anderson
    SW Representative, NAfME Council for General Music Education

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