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Christmas activities for toddlers – bounce and sing
Toddlers may not have been around for long but they certainly enjoy celebration times. This is how I run a Christmas music session for children under three. The Lesson Plan is called Christmas Tree and you can listen to previews of all the songs here. Christmas activities for toddlers should be engaging and age appropriate so read on to find out what works.
After our customary Hello Song we have a little bounce on our haunches or on someone’s lap if you are a lucky child and have a handy adult to sit on. The song is Riding on a Reindeer and our version plays three times each time faster than before – great fun and warms them up to the idea of following the recorded music as well as my voice.
Next is a game called Where is Santa? It’s like Two Little Dickie Birds, or Where is Thumbkin? I make little Santa pop sticks or simply little cones of red paper and put them on my two index fingers. I hide them behind my back and bring them out one at a time. The children can do this too if you prepare enough props in advance.
The second called Cheeky Chops requires you to provide each child with a paper plate decorated with a picture of a Christmas tree. Demonstrate how to hide your face behind the “Christmas tree” and pop out on the word “Boo!” If the children like it you and the other adults can tickle them at the end of the song.
A simple and elegant instrument song is O Christmas Tree. It is one that your children will hear for many years to come. Having a pair of finger cymbals to play enables them to concentrate for longer so they can listen to this slow song a couple of times. Then the lovely melody seeps into memory.
For a joyous instrument song I love to use Ring the Bells It’s Christmas Time. The lyrics tell the body what to do. You can easily substitute the name of any instrument you have handy.
Jingle Bells is an all-time favourite and of course we all get out the bells but I like to put them on my hobby horses noses so we get the full effect of “dashing through the snow” (even though it’s usually a heat-wave where I live!) If I don’t have real horses, we can use our scarves for tails and still dash around the room playing and singing and moving – the best of multiple learning modes for this age. I make a great show of singing “Oh what fun” because I have heard children of eight singing “On that farm” and once they’ve learned it wrongly, it sticks!
The Christmas Tree Dance is a pretty little song with easy actions as long as you have enough adults to keep the circle wide. I had to cut out the verse “Chop down the Christmas Tree” because it made some children cry, so now in my book it has three verses instead of the original four and everyone is happy.
I love to do Ring Bells Ring with an adult for every child because you can pick them up under the arms and swing them like a ringing bell and it’s fun. Then, for the second verse, you can grab them by the hand and “run, reindeer, run, stop”, and that’s fun too.
After all that energetic running they all need a rest so our lullaby in this lesson is the beautiful Czech Rocking Carol. Its unfamiliar tonality provides an interesting change from the normal major scale melodies of early childhood, and now, in early childhood is the time to introduce the music of the World.
It’s difficult to find nursery rhymes about Christmas but Little Jack Horner fits the bill and teaches the phrases “What a good boy am I” which may be useful as excitement around Christmas builds up in families.
As a final song we have a slightly adapted Twinkle Twinkle by adding a Christmas star, one you can show with a real or illustrated Christmas Tree topped with a star. The star is an enduring symbol of inspiration and always fascinates young children. This melody with its even phrases and satisfying form calms children and makes them peaceful, a great mood in which to finish ready for our Goodbye Song.
Have a safe and peaceful Christmas season and enjoy the season’s special music.