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, and events, and concerts and whatever else under the sun you possibly can before that last day before break.
So what is a teacher to do when the kids are restless, the time is short, and you have a TON to review?
This doesn’t mean let the kids run amok. This means to find fun ways to get what you need to DONE.
The Elementary Music Teacher's Guide To Surviving December
Here are some engaging ideas for the month of 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 (numbered by set on the back so that if they get mixed up, they know what bag the card goes in) and I divide them into a few teams. 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. I also 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

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.
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. his uses woodblocks/rhythm sticks, jingle bells, finger cymbals/triangle and red and green scarves.
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 }
B: {Red scarfs wave from high to low – 2 measures
Green scarves wave to follow music – 2 measures}
B:Then 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:I won’t post a video of this for copyright reasons, but if you want to see a small part, let me know via and I will help you out. 🙂


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.

Christmas & Hanukkah:
Get Moving!
And More

Last – 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 everything. We can only do so much in a day, only do so much in an hour, in a lesson plan.

You can do it!

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