Sunday, November 29, 2015

The 12 Days of Christmas Revisited...

Classroom days between Thanksgiving and winter break are few for most classrooms. Add to that the excitement of approaching holidays and young students need more than ever to be captivated by lessons to stay on track! One fun language arts activity my students always enjoyed was writing new words to Christmas songs! Second graders who had been learning about local wildlife and our community in the prior months, eagerly transformed the 12 Days of Christmas into lyrics that fit where we live! Suddenly a review of science and social studies lessons becomes the basis for a collaborative writing assignment that engages all the children! Brainstorming, rhythm, syllables, patterns, research, decision-making, and cooperation all come into play as the kids negotiate the final version.

We began with the traditional version both in song and book form. One of my favorites is by Jan Brett:

The significance of the 12 days was revealed in our holidays around the world lessons as we learned that Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, is celebrated in many cultures.

The history of the song is interesting for kids and the lyrics contain gifts that may be unknown to young children. Wikipedia has a page with links to a picture of each gift:

We always had pen pals in Australia, so we learned the Australian 12 Days of Christmas. The unusual animals and southern hemisphere celebration add opportunities for a wonderful discussion of Christmas in a new setting.
Provide written lyrics for the students to sing along (the lyrics are shown in the Youtube video). Allow time for researching the animals in the song or show pictures of each. After a bit of compare and contrast from the original to the Australian version, you have the perfect lead in to the writing of your own local version!

Once the lyrics have been determined, it is easy to find karaoke music on Youtube. Here are three of many versions:
Listen to the versions to find one that has the appropriate tempo for your students.

A bit of history, local knowledge, and music become a song written by your students! Print the lyrics and you have a reading lesson to practice for fluency! Here are two versions performed by my class in rural northwestern Colorado:

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