Monday, November 11, 2013

Ten Holiday Activities for Story Time

Thanksgiving - which is also the first night of Hanukkah - is just over two weeks away, which means the holiday season is upon us! Below are ten of my favorite activities to share at holiday-themed story times. (I have never worked in a library where the community celebrated Kwanzaa, so these activities pertain to Hanukkah and Christmas only.)

I Am Lighting all the Candles 
This song is sung to the tune of I've Been Working on the Railroad. (I wrote the lyrics.) Start with an empty menorah, then place the blue candle in the middle position. Explain that this is the candle used to light all the others. Then sing the first verse of the song, which goes like this:

I am lighting all the candles
On this Hanukkah night.
I am lighting all the candles
To see them shining bright.
Flicker, flicker little candles,
Fill me with your glow.
Now the time has come to count them
Ready, set and go

As you count to eight, place one candle in each space on the menorah.  Then sing the song again, with one change. Instead of "Now the time has come to count them," sing, "Now the time has come to blow them out." Then as you count, remove each candle from the menorah until none are left. Then remove the middle candle to signify the end of the song.

One Menorah Candle
Another menorah counting activity is this rhyme, which celebrates each of Hanukkah's eight nights. Add one candle at a time, until all eight are present, then recite the final verse.

One menorah candle
burning oh so bright.
Now we'll add another one -
it's Hanukkah's second night!

(Repeat, counting up to eight candles.)

Eight menorah candles
burning oh so bright.
We're celebrating Hanukkah -
the festival of lights!

Spin Little Dreidels 
Two years ago, when I was desperately seeking an action rhyme to accompany some Hanukkah books, Lisa from Story Time with the Library Lady shared a great one called Spin Little Dreidels. It was a huge hit with all the kids at my holiday story times that year, whether they celebrated Hanukkah or not. It will work with any Hanukkah-themed book, but I especially recommend it to accompany picture book versions of I Have a Little Dreidel.

Rudolph, Rudolph
Rudolph is a little bit confused. He's supposed to guide Santa's sleigh, but his nose is the wrong color!  So begins this silly rhyme:
Rudolph! Rudolph!
What will you do?
You can't guide Santa
If your nose is blue!

Rudolph! Rudolph!
Santa gave a wink.
But what will he think
If your nose is pink?

It's a long one, but the full text of the rhyme is available here. It concludes with the following:

Rudolph! Rudolph!
The children are in bed.
 And now I know you're ready
‘Cause your nose is red!

Ten Little Reindeer
For babies and toddlers, I like to incorporate some simple fingerplays into story time. I found this song, to the tune of Ten Little Indians, on this website, then wrote a second verse. At the end of  the second verse, kids love to point to their noses.

One little, two little, three little reindeer
Four little, five little, six little reindeer
Seven little, eight little, nine little reindeer
Pulling Santa's Sleigh

Ten little, nine little, eight little reindeer
Seven little, six little, five little reindeer
Four little, three little, two little reindeer
Rudolph leads the way!

Five Little Presents

Place five presents on the flannel board, with something hidden behind each one. Then reveal the presents one by one using this rhyme.

Five little presents underneath the tree
Five little presents  - could these all be for me?
I unwrap the red one to find out what's in there
I open up the box and it's a... TEDDY BEAR!

Click here for the rest of the gifts!

Christmas Alphabet 

The Christmas Alphabet is an old song, a version of which is available on YouTube. To perform this song at last year's holiday story time I created a set of letters that appear in the word CHRISTMAS, which, when reversed, revealed the image of whatever object corresponded to that letter in the song. I mounted them on red and green construction paper, then lined them up along the edge of the whiteboard and sang the song a cappella.

Download the letters CRSMS (red letters with a green border), here.
Download the letters HITA (green letters with a red border), here.
Download the objects for each letter (with labels) here

Let’s All Do a Little Clapping
This is an action song to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, which doesn't specifically refer to any holidays by name.

Let’s all do a little clapping
Let’s all do a little clapping
Let’s all do a little clapping
to spread holiday cheer.
You can replace "clapping" with almost any action - or ask the kids for suggestions.

Five Little Snowmen Riding on the Sled 
This is a great song to sing with kids who are familiar with Five Little Monkeys. You can also sing it about penguins.
Five little snowmen riding on the sled
One fell off and bumped his head
  Frosty called the doctor and the doctor said
"No more snowmen riding on that sled!"

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