Since we have been working on our history program since August, we needed a break. We love music. I mean – there is always some sort of music going on around here: singing, CDs playing, recorders or other instruments, and more often than not, humming while reading, eating, or doing schoolwork. Because of this love of music, we are studying carols during the month of December.
For each carol that we choose, we are doing several activities. Of course, the first is singing. I also play it on the piano. We sing it several times, either all together if we already know it or I’ll sing it by myself a few times and then the girls will join in if they don’t know it. We often add a CD recording of the carol, as well. We read a history of, or “story behind”, the carol when we can find one. We mark a map with where the carol was composed and/or where it talks about. We then do a project related to the carol. We have done 5 to date so this will be a recap of the ones we have done.
O Little Town Of Bethlehem
We read the story behind this song in the book The Carols of Christmas which is published by Ideals. We borrowed it from our local library. The girls liked the fact that it was written by someone who had visited Bethlehem and wanted the children at his local church to understand more about that city and its importance. Our activity was a chalk pastel drawing of Bethlehem and the star shining down. We got our tutorial from Hodgepodge, which I suggest visiting if you haven’t and see all that they have to offer.
O Christmas Tree
We again read the story from The Carols of Christmas and also talked a bit about the origins of the Christmas Tree. After marking the map and singing the song in a couple of different versions, I pulled out a set of wooden ornaments that we have had around forever and just never painted. We pulled out some paints and the girls went to work. While they painted, we put on a recording of the von Trapp Family Christmas album, because we had watched the live Sound of Music the day before and they were just singing, singing, singing. After they were dry, they added their ornaments to the tree.
Away In A Manger
The history for this carol came from the same source and we added yet another dot to our map. This is actually one of our favorite carols so we sang it more than once, found it in several of our songbooks and talked about the music some (time signature, pitch naming, double bar, etc). We also played it on the Little People nativity set that we have just to show the differences in the songs. After that, they sat down and decorated their own nativity sets from Made by Joel.
It’s A Marshmallow World
This one was a last minute choice but it came out so fun! The girls did not know this one but we have the sheet music for it (it doesn’t seem to be in very many songbooks). I sat down at the piano and played and sang it several times, until the girls got parts of it and sang with me. We talked about the purpose of the writing for this one, which was to be recorded and played on the radio. We used the sheet music to talk about time signatures, repeats, and first/second endings. We then had to create a marshmallow world!
We read the history online by searching for the song. We found that the composer of the song was an organist at a church in Georgia, after having been in California during the gold rush. That gave us some interesting conversation. It also said that this song was written for a children’s Thanksgiving program. Interesting! None of would ever have guessed that. This song allowed us to talk about verse and chorus form in a song. Our activity was to find all of our jingle bells in the house and play them with the piano while singing as loudly as possible. I do mean LOUD! We also discussed the fact that the different bells sounded different and why that might be true. It was a fun one.
That is the first 5 carols we have done. We will be continuing this throughout the month so I’ll definitely have more to add later. Meanwhile, we’ll be singing. At Home.