Thursday, December 6, 2018

Themed Winter Lessons for the Littles

I LOVE winter lessons.  The Nutcracker is my favorite (see my Nutcracker post HERE) but really I love all things winter.  This year, being at a new school my winter lessons for K + 1 all have a mini theme that continues our curriculum but is still super fun and relates to the festive season (you will see that the Nutcracker is incorporated into almost all of them though)  Each 30 minutes lesson, similar to first steps, has a vocal warm-up/ exploration time, simple songs, a winter song tale, an instrument or  movement (sometimes movement exploration, sometimes beat keeping movement, sometimes an action song, etc.).

One of my favorite themes from this year was BELLS!

First we say Engine, Engine into the room (my K and 1 do this EVERY class) and I pull out my sleigh bells and tell them we are taking the train to the North Pole.  We say it two times while I play the bells and then have a seat.

Vocal Exploration- Students repeat after me making bell sounds and then some of them get to be the leader.

Jingle Bell Rock- We love to put the folk dance Rural Felicity from Sashay the Donut to this song! It fits wonderfully! 

Carol of the Bells- Next we watch Carol of the Bells by Pentatonix and discuss this other fun Holiday Bell song.  Every time we are preparing for movement, we watch and listen to the song first- sometimes I then change the version and have them notice what is different- sometimes it is the exact same song. 

Next, we get out the ribbon wands and move our bodies to the Transiberian Orchestra version of Carol of the Bells.  I always show the synced Christmas Lights video during this, as well.  I am hoping to get a video of my routine up soon- stay tuned! 

Other great versions to watch and listen to are the Lindsey Stirling version, as well as just the classic carol. 

Finally, I read There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! - I sing this story to help calm our bodies after the ribbon routine. 

Here are some more themes I have done this year with a list of ideas!

Winter Wonderland Vocal Explorations - you can get them HERE 

Snowflakes song- with glockenspiels to beat.  Some students can be snowflakes with their bodies while others are playing if you do not have enough instruments for all.  You can also have students experiment and figure out which instruments in your room they think sound like gently falling snow the most. The song I use came from the Game Plan Curriculum, but you could use any snow song you like!
Watch the Waltz of the Snowflakes from the Nutcracker
Scarf movement to Waltz of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker 
Frosty the Snowman Book to calm our bodies

In another snow lesson, I do lots of things with laminated cut out snowflakes.  We sing our snowflake song again, but this time do mirroring with a partner having a snowflake in each hand. We also use the snowflakes as Ice-Skates for skating to the Skaters Waltz and for my Plate Routine to the Russian Dance from the Nutcracker (see a video of this routine HERE).  I am thinking of making a new plate routine to a song like Suzy Snowflake or Let it Snow for this lesson next year.

I love lessons on SNOW because they are not related to any holiday and are just fun musical activities to get us moving, singing, and playing instruments. 

Nutcracker Vocal Exploration Lines- there are a few on TPT which you can get HERE
Watch The Story of the Nutcracker in Less than 5 Minutes - I LOVE this version because students get an abridged version of the story, but still see dances!

Stretchy Band Routine to the MARCH (show the form!) - I got this idea from twitter :)
     A section - march in a circle
     B section- 4 slow steps in then 4 slow steps out (2x)
     C section- T calls a color and the students holding that color run and switch places
Watch the Russian Dance- I love the version below! My boys are always so impressed!

"Decorate the Room" To Russian Dance.  We "throw decorations" on all the accents, hang ornaments and lights, and more! I just tell a story to fit the music as we are doing it. Kids love it- especially "throwing lots of glitter" during the bridge :) 

Dreidle Song- If you have time, learn how to play the game! 
"Ice Skating" on Plates to Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker, or the Skaters Waltz
Russian Dance from the Nutcracker- Plate Routine - see a video of this routine HERE
OR Chinese/ Tea Dance from the Nutcracker- Ribbon Routine

This year I also made a Winter Holidays Around The World Choice Board for my students.  It features Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Diwali, and more! Students get to learn about the holidays, hear stories (like a few of those below), and hear/ learn music connected to the holidays.  Students have been loving it this year!  I especially love this Nina's World Episode because it gives the basics of Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in a wonderful way! 

It's Hanukkah! It's a time to celebrate family and enjoy festive traditions. As Rachel and her parents prepare the house, grandparents, cousins, and friends travel from near and far to sing and tell stories. Together, they will light candles, play games, and eat scrumptuous holiday foods... and, of course, dance the Hanukkah Hop. The stamping, the hopping, and the bim-bim-bopping is sure to go on all night!

'Twas Nochebuena- A Christmas Story in English and Spanish - 

’Twas Nochebuena and all through our casa

every creature was kneading tamale masa...

It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re invited to a Nochebuena celebration! Follow a family as they prepare to host a night filled with laughter, love, and Latino tradition. Make tasty tamales and hang colorful adornos (decorations) on the walls. Gather to sing festive canciones (songs) while sipping champurrado (hot chocolate). After the midnight feast has been served and the last gifts have been unwrapped, it’s time to cheer, “Feliz Navidad and to all a good night!”

Use this post for more information on Winter Holidays around the World!

What are your favorite Winter Themes?? 

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