Those last few music classes before the holiday break can be difficult – kids are feeling distracted and excited, it’s not a great time to introduce new concepts, and you need something that can engage your kiddos while hopefully addressing at least a few curriculum expectations.
Here are some Christmas music activity ideas I’ve used to help get my music classes to the break as painlessly as possible.
Disney Christmas Karaoke
Years ago I bought this DVD I found in a discount bin. It had Christmas carols with words so you could sing along, but the best part was it had Disney cartoons to accompany each song. Unfortunately none of our computers at school have working DVD players anymore, but you can find most of the songs on YouTube. I’m always surprised at how many kiddos don’t know the words to popular carols – so this is a great opportunity to get in some singing that’s just for fun. This Christmas music activity has become a tradition in my classroom, to the point that even my 12 year olds will request it!
I’m a bit of a “A Christmas Carol” junky. I think I’ve watched just about every film version that exists. The film version of the stage musical (by the same composer as The Little Mermaid) starring Kelsey Grammer is a lesser-known gem that I highly recommend for junior grades. The music is high quality with recurring themes and engaging melodies, but isn’t widely known so it’s likely your students will have never heard it before.
I made this “colour-along” Christmas music activity for my classes to use last year while watching the A Christmas Carol musical. For each song in the film, there is a coloring page worksheet that requires students to reflect on the music. I encouraged them to circle their answers while the song was playing, and then they could work on their colouring during the scenes so they didn’t feel rushed.
Music Truth or Dare is such a fun way of sneaking in some “trivia” (aka curriculum expectations) to a Christmas music activity while also giving them a chance to stretch their creative muscles.
Your class is split into two teams that compete against each other for points. One at a time, each player chooses a card and wins a point if they are able to complete the challenge.
The TRUTH cards ask students to answer trivia questions relating to Christmas music (song lyrics, name-the-song, etc), but you can also use this as an opportunity for review. I’ve included some blank cards so that you can add questions based on whatever curriculum you are currently covering – if you don’t wish to use them, just leave these cards out of the deck.
The DARE cards challenge students to complete tasks that stretch their creative thinking, including improvisation, found-item sound exploration, etc, all within the theme of Christmas. DOUBLE-DARE cards pit the two teams against each other in a head-to-head competition of lyrical recall.
Film scores are a great way to help students understand how using specific musical elements (melody, timbre, dynamics, etc) can evoke certain ideas or feelings.
A few years ago, I created this mini-unit to explore exactly this topic. “What makes Christmas music SOUND like Christmas?”
After a few lessons on the difference between soundtracks and film scores, tone colours, and other musical elements, students are ready to play the game!
In this Christmas music activity, students will listen to music clips from a variety of Christmas movies while completing the “name that movie” chart. They’ll try to name each movie of course (which is the fun part) but can also demonstrate their understanding of the musical elements by describing the musical elements that they hear even if they aren’t familiar with the movie.
Christmas Rhythm Activity (Center or Digital)
This is a great Christmas music lesson plan to leave for a sub or to do yourself. My students love assembling the cube to roll to choose their own rhythms, and then write them on the composition sheet.
I’ve also included a digital copy of the activity so it can be used in the classroom as a digital center or assigned for remote learning.
I love this activity pack because it’s just so versatile for different classroom situations – including remote learning or homeschooling.
My new music mystery series are a super engaging of reviewing basic music theory with your older elementary classes. Each one is based around a fun film noir style story featuring a kid detective. In order to solve the mystery, students must use their understanding of music theory (time signatures, rhythms, key signatures, etc) to reveal each clue, and then use the clues to solve the mystery.