Five Fun Festive Music Activities
Christmas is coming and your pupils are more than likely over-excited and wishing for festive-themed lessons as a treat, in contrast to their usual schedule. We’ve taken the pain out of lesson planning with our top Five Fun Festive Music Activities. These are easy to differentiate for age groups, and we guarantee fun while learning and/or practising music skills…
1. Twelve Days of Christmas
Play “The Twelve Days of Christmas”
Split your class into 12 groups (groups of 2 and 3)
Allocate each group a “day” from the well-loved Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas
The children need to consider a sound that is appropriate for their day, e.g. “Five Gold Rings” might be well-represented by triangles or bells, as both are made from metal.
You might ask more advanced pupils to consider the rhythms, genre or dynamics, in addition to the instrument they pick.
For those who find music a little more challenging, they could focus primarily on the best instrument to match their day’s gift.
Also consider, with regards to behaviour management, that those at the end of the sequence may only get to play their composition once or twice, in comparison to those at the beginning of the sequence.
2. Glow Stick Drumming
Recap rhythms that have been a focus over the Autumn term
Practice clapping and repeating the rhythms to remind the children
Delegate non-tuned percussive resources to children, and glow sticks
Turn out the lights, close the blinds and have a class performance
TIP: You will want to video record this, if you have the relevant permissions, as the results are pretty stunning
Divide the class into ability groups, and delegate a set of rhythms to each group so they can compose and rehearse a group performance; the higher the ability the more complex the selection of rhythms they can add into their performance.
3. Guess the Tune
Write a list of well-known Christmas tunes on pieces of paper.
Hand a slip of paper to each child and tell them to keep it secret.
Give the children time to practise tapping their allocated tune, using percussive instruments or body percussion.
Sitting in a circle, children take it in turns to clap their tune. Children get a point for guessing correctly, and the child tapping the tune also gets a point for doing a good job. If nobody can guess, the teacher gets the point. The class must try and “beat” the teacher.
Consider which songs have trickier rhythms and allocate those to children who find music less of a challenge.
Children who are less confident might enjoy this session more if they are assigned to a group / if they work with a partner.
4. World Christmas Music
Play children a variety of different Christmas tunes, with World Music influences, and give them the chance to discuss. What did they notice? What instruments did they hear? How was it different? What did they like? What didn’t they like?
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones – Jingle Bells (Mongolian Throat singing & Banjo)
The Mariachis – Feliz Navidad (Mexican Mariachi band – Trumpets, Guitar and Percussion)
Alex Boye & Genesis Choir – Drummer Boy (African Tribal, with African Drumming)
Caribbean Island Steel Pan Troupe – Let It Snow (Reggae, with steel pans)
For children that find music more of a challenge, perhaps have a series of yes/no questions lined up for them to answer. For children who are more able, prepare open questions so they can explain their responses and demonstrate their understanding.
5. The Nutcracker
TIP: This activity needs to be spread over several lessons
Explain that The Nutcracker is a ballet – a story set to music, and instead of “acting” the ballet dancers “dance” the story.
Read the story of The Nutcracker to the class.
Split the class into mixed groups and allocate them each a portion of the story.
Give the children time to compose some music that they think might fit their part of the story.
Recap the story briefly.
Ask the children to get back into their groups and finalise / practise their compositions.
Re-read the story and let each group get up to perform their compositions to accompany their portion of the story.
At the end of the lesson, let the children listen to snippets of the original Nutcracker score to see how the original composer imagined it to sound.
You can ask them questions to compare/contrast their own compositions with the original score.
This activity would be good for mixed ability groups so that the children who struggle with music can draw from the knowledge of their more able peers. It also gives the more able children the opportunity to lead, and give peer-to-peer advice.