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Santa’s Cookies and Milk

Our Christmas Tree here in Japan with ornaments from around the world

Our Christmas tree here in Japan with ornaments from around the world

Christmas is a magical time of year! My students and I sing about Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees, jingle bells, and gingerbread cookies. We sing songs about the birth of Jesus, too. Students dress in festive costumes. I love this time of year with my students! Even though our two sons are adults, we still gather together at Christmas and enjoy many of the traditions they knew as children. Our Christmas Eve celebrations include a festive dinner, opening gifts by the Christmas tree, and singing Christmas carols. When the evening draws to a close, we still put out a plate of homemade cookies and a glass of milk for Santa Claus. A note is written for Santa, and the next morning a reply from Santa is waiting for us!

Cookies and Milk left for Santa

Cookies and milk left for Santa

I wrote this simple song to the melody of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to remember this special moment in our lives. Here’s a complimentary music track for you from my CD entitled Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays.

Santa’s Cookies and Milk Words by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina Spoken: Dear Santa, Welcome to my house. I’ve been very good this year. Have some cookies. (gesture with one hand to the side) Have some milk. (gesture with the other hand) Christmas cookies and a glass of milk. (Twist hands like twinkling Christmas stars. You can make it fancier by moving your hands in big circles from above your head to your sides.) Eat the cookies. 1-2-3 (gesture eating cookies, then fingers 1-2-3) Drink the milk. It’s from me. (gesture drinking milk, then point to self) Have some cookies. (gesture with one hand to the side) Have some milk. (gesture with the other hand) Christmas cookies and a glass of milk.   (Twist hands like twinkling Christmas stars. You can make it fancier by moving your hands in big circles from above your head to your sides.) Spoken: Thanks Santa! Have a good night! Good-bye! For more tips on performances, see our last blog post. https://magictimekids.com/2014/12/05/making-the-most-of-student-performances/

Cute way to give Christmas cookies!

A cute way to give Christmas cookies!

Check out this cute idea for a cookie holder, too. Invite students to decorate the plate before folding it up. Be sure to show students a model of the folded one so that they know where they can draw. Turn the plate upside down on a clean surface to add drawings. Cut on the lines, too, before drawing.  Remember that the drawings will be on the bottom of the plate. Decorate with red ribbon and a little bell for Christmas. Wishing you all the best for Christmas and throughout the year from our family to yours.  May the magic of Christmas remain in your hearts.

Chuck, Christian, Kathy, and John on Christmas Eve 2013

Chuck, Christian, Kathy, and John on Christmas Eve 2013

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Making the Most of Student Performances

varandah freedigitalphotos

Image courtesy of varandah / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For many teachers around the world, this is the time of year when students perform holiday songs at school. For me, I’m busily preparing my students for a performance, too. What are some things you do to prepare for this event?

  1. Choose a song that students are able to perform. Look at the vocabulary. Check out the grammar structures. Is there enough repetition for young learners? Does the melody stay within a comfortable singing range?
  1. Now let your students listen to a few different songs that fit these requirements. Which one do they like best?
  1. To teach a song, I make sure that my students understand the background and the vocabulary first. I use visual images when possible. Creating a rebus reading with pictures and sight words is an easy way to begin learning a song.
  1. Next, I add simple movements to help students remember the words. Young learners are especially successful with this approach. If you are new to using movement with your students, you may need to show them some movements first.

*To build creativity, ask students for their ideas for movement. For example, in the song “It’s Christmas Time,” students have words for senses, such as hear, see, smell. I show them a picture, and ask all of my students to share an idea of how they might show these words. Then we look at the nouns, such as jingle bells, Christmas tree, and gingerbread. Can we make a pose or movement? I might say, “A few people, like Kenji and Yuta, are moving like this. Let’s try it.” Students are so proud when we choose their movement.

  1. I often have a “slow” practice by saying the words and doing the movements. Students stand on “double dots”– a place where they will stand and sing. I use two of the same colored dots or colored tape. I write down where each child will stand.
  2. DSC00021Then we speed things up with the music and the movements. I stand in front of my students and lead them in singing and moving. Model enthusiasm!
  1. Finally, we take turns. Half of the students perform while the other half becomes the audience — their mommies and daddies. The audience practices clapping. The singers practice bowing at the end. (Bend over: I see my shoes. Stand up: I see my mom and dad.)
  1. Throughout this time, you must be thinking about simple costumes that will make your song come alive. Asking students to come dressed in one solid color makes it easy to add things like a small picture hung on a ribbon around their necks, or a string of sparkly garland on their heads. If your students are getting dressed in costumes at school, make sure that everything is labeled with each child’s name.
  2. DSC_0314DSC_0312Now have a dress rehearsal. Here’s where I bring out a bunch of stuffed animals and put them on chairs. Practice introductions. Take a video and show the students. Make sure that the costumes work.
  1. Prepare a simple program. Our students often prepare their own art for the cover.
  2. Check to make sure everything is ready — music, chairs, instruments, programs, microphone, etc.
  3. Now it’s show time! Make sure that each child goes to the restroom beforehand. Give parents time to take photos and keep students calm.  Enjoy the moment!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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It’s Christmas Time!

%22Christmas Gingerbreads%22 by nuchylee

“Christmas Gingerbreads” image courtesy of nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Christmas Day is not far away! Here is a song I wrote that my students love to sing and move to. My dear friend and Oxford co-author Setsuko Toyama from Niigata, Japan, created this wonderful activity sheet and picture cards to go with it. Just click below and print them!

It’s Christmas Time-Song by K. Kampa, Handout by S. Toyama

The steps to the activity are as follows:

1.  Teach the six new words using the picture cards. Create a gesture for each word.

2.  As a critical thinking activity, place the pictures for hear, smell, and see in a column on the left side of the board. Place the pictures for gingerbread, jingle bells, and Christmas tree in a column on the right side. Point to the hear card as you ask students, “What can you hear?” When students answer, “jingle bells,” draw a line from hear to jingle bells. Continue in the same way with the other words. In addition, you may ask questions such as, “Can you smell a Christmas tree? Can you see jingle bells?” and so on.

3.  Hand out a copy of the activity sheet to each student. Play the song. As students listen, they point to the lyrics with illustrations (known as a rebus).

4.  Play the song again, with students standing in a circle or at their desks. On each verse, pantomime the movement with your students. For a performance, you could have different groups perform each of the verses. On the chorus, students turn around slowly on “Christmas, Christmas.” On “Time to celebrate” students clap their hands three times. On “We can hardly wait,” students hug themselves, then reach their hands up high!

We hope you enjoy this wonderful Christmas song and activity!

It’s Christmas Time

Words by Kathleen Kampa, copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Kampa

(music adapted from The Muffin Man)

 1. Do you hear the jingle bells,

the jingle bells, the jingle bells?

Do you hear the jingle bells?

It’s Christmas time!

 Chorus:

Christmas! Christmas! Time to celebrate!  XX

Christmas! Christmas!  We can hardly wait.

 2. Do you see the Christmas tree,

the Christmas tree, the Christmas tree?

Do you see the Christmas tree?

It’s Christmas time!

 Chorus:

Christmas! Christmas! Time to celebrate!  XX

Christmas! Christmas!  We can hardly wait.

 3. Do you smell the gingerbread,

The gingerbread, the gingerbread?

Do you smell the gingerbread?

It’s Christmas time!

 Chorus:

Christmas! Christmas! Time to celebrate!  XX

Christmas! Christmas!  We can hardly wait.

 4. We feel joy and happiness,

happiness, happiness,

We feel joy and happiness,

It’s Christmas time!

For the studio version of my song, go to iTunes and click on Track #13 of Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays. (Just click on iTunes above or the album cover below.)

ms kampa 12-8

Happy Teaching, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Kathy Kampa