Brace yourselves…
Every teacher knows that December is one long stretch of craziness before a long break.
Classroom teachers are trying to finish units before breaks, cram in parties, events, concerts, and whatever else under the sun they possibly can before that last day in December before break.
So what is a music teacher to do when the kids are restless, the time is short, and you have a TON to review?
GIVE. IN.
This doesn’t mean let the kids run amok. This means to find fun ways to get what you need to DONE.
This is where the Elementary Music Teacher’s Guide To Surviving December comes in. Read on for some engaging ideas for the month of December.
image The Elementary Music Teacher's Guide To Surviving December

Rhythm & Solfege Practice

Play a racing game: I make my kids a pack of cards for the concept they are practicing.
Each kid gets a full set and I divide them into a few teams. Each full set is numbered by set on the back so that if they get mixed up, they know what bag the card goes in
I will sing a solfege pattern (with the solfege names the first time they do it, without later on), and the first student to bring the card to me wins a point for their teams.
Pro-tip: I make the students get in a line to bring me things because there is always more than one student bringing something up.
If you do this, you won’t end up with cards in your face, and you will know for sure who was first.

New Solfege Concepts:

Take a favorite holiday song and isolate a phrase.
Jingle Bells: 
Verses – Low Sol, Low La, Low Ti
Refrain – Fa
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
1st phrase: MSLD’
Winter Wonderland:
First 2 phrases: MS
Great MRD at the end of the chorus “walkin’ in a winter wonderland.”

If you work in a school where you can use religious songs:

Silent Night: 
SLSM patterns
Joy to the World:
Major scale
We Wish You a Merry Christmas and O Christmas Tree: 
Low Sol
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: 
Minor scale
Away in a Manger: 
Sol-based descending scale
I Saw Three Ships: 
Low Sol anacrusis AND a great example of 6/8
Hanukah, Oh Hanukah:
Low La
I Have a Little Dreidel:
Fa, Isolated SMSM pattern
For more solfege fun, check out my post on teaching melodic composition with solfege.

Folk Dances & Movement

Use this free folk dance creation lesson plan to let your kids use their known dance moves to an instrumental version of a holiday song.
image folk dance freebie
Create an instrumental play along to a song – Check out this AMAZING idea for The Nutcracker March I learned from my friend Joan Long a few years ago.
All it uses are woodblocks/rhythm sticks, jingle bells, finger cymbals/triangle, and red and green scarves.
IMAGE Nutcracker movement and play along idea
A: {4 Measures: Woodblocks/rhythm sticks keep the beat
4 Measures: Jingle bells keep the beat
Finger cymbals/Triangle – One loud quarter note on beat 4 of measure 8 }
Repeat
B: {Red scarfs wave from high to low – 2 measures
Green scarves wave to follow music – 2 measures}
Repeat
A:
A:
B:
B: Then, this is where it gets fun. During this part, when we are in the A section, both red and green scarves follow the melodic contour of the strings with big flourishes up in the air.
A:
A:
B:
B:
A:
A: I won’t post a video of this for copyright reasons, but if you want to see a small part, let me know via a comment or email, and I will help you out. 🙂

Get Help From Others

Make it easy on yourself.  I’ve made a HUGE list from some of my TpT friends of blog posts, activities and ideas for the month of December.

Winter/Snow:
Nutcracker:
Christmas & Hanukkah:
Get Moving!
And More

Give Yourself Some Grace

I know this is such a cliche thing to say lately, but it’s true as well. We can’t do anything. We can only do so much in a day, only do so much in an hour, in a lesson plan.

I hope the elementary music teacher’s guide to surviving December is helpful to you. If you found this helpful, you may also like my simple but effective teacher hacks to coming back in January.

You can do it!
Melissa

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