Happy New Year!

Japanese Sheep

Japanese Sheep

Happy New Year! All around the globe the new year is celebrated in different ways. Here in Japan people celebrate o-shogatsu, the new year, with many special traditions. One of the important traditions seen all over the country is the celebration of the new animal for the year. This year it is the year of the sheep. Perhaps you’re familiar with the Chinese calendar of twelve different animals.

At our first class this week, we’ll begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2015, the year of the sheep. I wrote a simple song to teach the year and how to spell the word “sheep.” We had fun creating a recording for you at home with our son Christian.

It’s The Year 

lyrics by Kathleen Kampa Vilina, melody (For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow/ BINGO)

sung by Christian Vilina


Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir.

Three bags full.

It’s the year of the sheep.

It’s the year of the sheep.

It’s the year of the sheep.

It’s 2015!

s-h-e-e-p, s-h-e-e-p, s-h-e-e-p,

It’s the year of the sheep.

1. Show students the picture of a sheep.

 Image courtesy of TCJ2020 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of TCJ2020 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When they sing the word “sheep” they can make a pose like a sheep or point to the picture. If you have lively students, they might enjoy skipping or galloping during this part of the song instead.

2. On the words, “It’s 2015,” students stop moving and make the numbers 2015 with their fingers. Very young students can stop and wave their arms in the air as if saying “Hooray!”

3. Write the letters for the word “sheep” on the board. Clap the rhythm below to accompany the letters. (slow, slow, quick quick, slow)

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To make it more challenging, students can pat, stamp, or snap the rhythm. My students like to clap the first time they spell “sheep,” then they pat their legs, and finally they stamp their feet. If you have instruments in your classroom, you can play this part.

4. The song ends with “It’s the year of the sheep!” Students make the sheep pose, or point to the picture.


You can also celebrate the New Year with our song, “Happy New Year!” I wrote it with our son Christian, and it is always a hit with our students. You can find it on Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays. The lyrics are easy for students to follow.

Students like to pat their legs, then clap their hands to the beat.

On the last Happy New Year, they turn around and wave their hands.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Hip hip hooray!

ms kampa 12-8


Let’s Celebrate the New Year!

%22Happy New Year 2014 Card46%22 by gubgib

“Happy New Year 2014 Card46” image courtesy of gubgib / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s already January 3rd, yet here in Japan, New Year’s celebrations continue. O-shogatsu (New Year’s) begins on the night of Dec. 31st and continues for three days. Tonight we’ll be enjoying o-sechi ryori, traditional New Year’s foods, with our Japanese friends. Starting on Monday, I’ll be back in the classroom with my students. Here are two songs I’ve written to teach my students about New Year’s celebrations. The first song was written with my son Christian when he was in elementary school. He and Chuck are singing it for you!

Happy New Year

Words and music by Christian Vilina and Kathleen Kampa

copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Kampa

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Hip hip hooray!

My students love to keep a “steady beat” by patting their legs, then clapping their hands.  Think “pat-clap-pat-clap.” Do this for the first three lines.

We like to do something special on the last line.

On Happy New Year!  my students like to wave their hands above their heads. More advanced students like to turn around quickly!

On Hip hip hooray! students roll their hands and jump once in place.

To hear the studio version of this song, go to iTunes, and click on Track #3.


And now for our second New Year’s song! . . .

In the Chinese or lunar calendar, this is the Year of the Horse. Here in Japan, we already began celebrating the Year of the Horse on January 1st.

In this song, students learn the name of the animal, how to spell the animal name, and how to say “2014.”

It’s The Year

Words by Kathleen Kampa

copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Kampa

Medley of songs based on French song “Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre” (For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow) and BINGO

It’s the year of the horse,

It’s the year of the horse,

It’s the year of the horse,

It’s 2014.

H–o–r-s-e, h–o–r-s-e, h–o–r-s-e,

It’s the year of the horse!

1. Display the image of the horse. There are twelve animals in the lunar calendar. What do your students know about horses? Can they make a pose like a horse? Can they gallop like a horse? What other movements do horses do?

If you have a small space, have students create a pose when they sing the word “horse.” If you have a larger space, students may enjoy galloping in a circle while singing “It’s the year of the horse.”

2. Write the number 2014 on the board. My students like to make these numbers with their fingers. Try this:

Hold up two fingers for “two,” then move two fingers in a circle to say “thousand.” For fourteen, students hold up one finger on their left hand, and four fingers on their right.

When you sing the song, students stop in place and do the finger movements on “It’s 2014!” Students can even wave their hands in the air!

3. Now your students are ready to spell. Write the word horse on the board. Use lower case letters. Say the letters with your students.

Then clap the rhythm while saying the letters.

You can encourage your students to make different sounds for this rhythm by patting their legs, stamping their feet, or snapping their fingers. You can even add simple instruments.

4. Finish the song with a horse pose on “It’s the year of the horse!”

We hope you enjoy these New Year songs with your students!

Happy Teaching!

Kathy and Chuck