If you've been having the same kind of weeks I have the last couple of weeks, your kiddos are so excited for holiday break that they can hardly CONTAIN themselves! However, if you're also like me, you may have a few kiddos who don't celebrate Christmas or Holidays at all. This is always a bit tricky because I want those students to have an opportunity to experience the joy of the season, and this year I have found the perfect way to do so!
The Kindergarten team at my school always does a gingerbread hunt with their kids the week before Christmas break. Particularly for those Kinder kids, I wanted to come up with a way to play off of their classroom lessons in the music room. I decided this year I'm going to do the same with first and second grade, but extend for those older kiddos.
The first part of this lesson is, of course, reading the story of the Gingerbread Man. There are only about a million out there, and I actually like to find a different version than what is used in students' classroom. This year, I'm using this version:
I actually purchased this book to read on my Kindle app, and plan to pull it up either on my iPad or (if the tech gods are with me!!) displaying through my computer and projector. Don't get me wrong, I still make sure I sit in my rocking chair and read to my kids from a real book on a regular basis, but this is one I just happened to need in a pinch. :)
What I really love about this book is the opportunities for vocal exploration, high/low, and singing voice vs. speaking voice. It's so easy to improvise and give students the opportunity to imitate as you read this story. I also developed this very intuitive (as in, you probably sing it the same way!) little so-mi-la melody, especially since the text explicitly says the gingerbread man sings!
This is a great little melody for mi-la, 6-8 practice, OR internal anacrusis with your older kids! :) I love taking text from books and giving them musical life, especially when they lend themselves so nicely as this chant-like text does.
To extend this for older kids (first and second grade) derive the solfege or turn it into the A section of some pattern improvisation with solfege they know. You could even take the last motive ("gingerbread man") and make it the poison pattern for rhythm poison.
After reading and discussing the book, I immediately turn the above melody into a chase game, modeled after duck-duck-goose. This is a quick way for me to assess students' ability to demonstrate steady beat (especially with that internal anacrusis!) instead of instinctively going to the rhythm. I played this simple game with my kiddos last week and they are already excited to play again!
Here is another chant I created (with "pumpkin, pumpkin" as the inspiration) to go along with our gingerbread themed lesson!
I use this chant above for steady beat practice with my Kindergarteners. We have been practicing with four felt hearts, but I wanted another version to keep things fresh and tie in with the season. For this game, I printed out gingerbread clip art from Creative Clips (click for link) on four different colors of cardstock, laminated, and cut them all out. (You could do something similar with a die-cut machine.)
I give each kiddo four different gingerbread men, one of each color. Then, we say the chant and "eat" (eliminate) whichever color we land on! After three rounds, whichever color each student has left is his or her winner, and we tally up all of the different responses to see which color won as a class.
This is another great way to assess steady beat as students have some buy in to keep on playing the game. Also, we are reinforcing their counting and color skills as we go! Extend it by choosing randomly which of the four voices students will say the poem (speak, sing, whisper, shout) or throw in a couple of seasonal ones, like elf or reindeer voices!!
To extend this for older kids, have them tap the rhythm instead of the steady beat. Also, have them write their name on a post-it note and have them "bet" on which color will be the winner each round.
This chant would also be great for a "closet key" inspired game. Take one of your gingerbread men and have a student hide it in the room while another hides his or her eyes. Then have students chant louder as the seeker gets closer, or quieter as he or she gets further away. You could also use it for a passing game! Opportunities are endless!
If you are looking for more gingerbread themed activities, check out my new sets by clicking the picture below! I also have a contest on instagram to win one of these sets--your choice!! Click here to enter!!
I hope these ideas will be useful in your classroom during the next couple of weeks! I know it is a crazy time, but I have certainly focused on relaxing and enjoying this magical time of year with my students.
Have a wonderful last week or so before break! I still have Monday & Tuesday after this week, but Christmas is so close I can taste it!!