‘I’m offering this simple phrase to kids from one to 92. Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you’. A lively, musical, festive and fun lesson on writing your own Christmas carols.
Whether you have finished your lessons for the term or just want to bring a bit of cheer to your classroom, here is a lesson outline that is sure to light up even the dullest of winter days. Musical instruments and Christmas jumpers optional! So turn up Heart FM Christmas and have fun.
Warm up (15 minutes) – Guess That Carol! Divide your class into 6 teams and ask them to create a festive name for themselves. You could ask them if they’d rather play option 1 or 2.
Option 1: Name the song
Option 2: Sing the next line
- ‘Holy infant so tender and mild’
- ‘Join the triumph of the skies; With th’ angelic host proclaim’
- ‘Bring us pudding, and a cup of good cheer’
- ‘He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake’
- ‘When the snow lay round about, Deep and crisp and even’
- ‘Five gold rings’
- ‘The cattle are lowing, The poor baby awakes’
- ‘They looked up and saw a star, Shining in the East beyond them far’
Answers for Option 1: 1. Silent Night 2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 3. We Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town 5. Good King Wenceslas 6. 12 Days of Christmas 7. Away in a Manger 8. The First Noel
Answers for Option 2: 1. Sleep in heavenly peace… 2. Christ is born in Bethlehem… 3. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…4. You better watch out, you better not cry… 5. Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel… 6. Four calling doves… 7. But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes… 7. And to earth it gave great light and so it continued both day and night Noel, Noel.
Main task (25 minutes) – Alternative carols! Using the examples in the warm up, ask groups to pick a carol to rewrite choosing one of the following options.
Option A: Imagine you are a character from the class reader or your favourite book. Can you rewrite the carol imaging you are them and using context from the novel? For Example, ‘On my first day at Hogwarts, Dumbledore gave to me, a book on using wizardry’. Emphasise how the new version must have the same amount of verses, beats per a line and rhyme scheme for it to still be recognisable.
Option B: An alternative Christmas message. Could you change the tone to create a more sombre reflection on Christmas? Could it be about debt? Materialism? Could you imagine you are Scrooge and write his version? This could either be a funny account or a very serious one. Could students be Greta Thunberg singing about the amount of plastic waste from Christmas crackers?
Option C: Keep the lyrics from one of the original carols you looked at in the warm up. Be ready to perform the carol with music and voices, through tableauxs, or even through mime and ask your classmates to guess which song you are performing.
Plenary (10 minutes) – Groups watch or listen to the performances, identifying things that went well and things that could have been included. Take a class vote to see which group was the most popular and they could win a small prize or perhaps perform in the Christmas assembly?
Extension: Ask your students what they think the real message of Christmas is. Could this lead into a discussion about ways to give back in the festive season? Could they contact a local food bank or contribute towards a donation to the Book Trust which will ensure children get the gift of an uplifting story over Christmas? Could they bake for a neighbour, make homemade cards for their friends or contribute to a Christmas box for children who may well receive no presents at all?
By Joanna Fliski
Joanna Fliski is a freelance writer, secondary English teacher and primary school teacher in Bristol