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Laughing All the Way: Spreading Christmas Cheer through Music-Inspired Task Cards

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” One of the many lessons we learn from Buddy in the movie Elf is that singing is good for the soul. In this blog post, I’m offering a simple idea for how we could share some holiday cheer with our students through quick holiday lessons.

While there are many different techniques I enjoy using to spread the excitement of the holiday season (really, it’s infectious in the hallways, even at the high school level!), my favorite avenue is music. It’s just one of those things that can dig anyone out of a funk. It impacts our mood and our energy levels. Just try to be cranky while you are singing an upbeat, peppy song at the top of your lungs. It’s nearly impossible not to smile. Music is therapeutic. Like exercise…or a massage…or reading…or blogging…or eating chocolate while drinking coffee (not that I would know anything about that).

BENEFITS OF MUSIC

Plus, research has proven time and time again that music is effective at bringing education to life. Just take a look at this study from Johns Hopkins School of Education for a glimpse of some of the amazing benefits of music.

Here are a few specific ways music can impact us:

  • establish a positive learning state
  • create a desired atmosphere
  • built a sense of anticipation
  • energize learning activities
  • change brain wave states
  • focus concentration
  • increase attention
  • improve memory
  • facilitate a multi-sensory learning experience
  • release tension
  • enhance imagination
  • align groups
  • develop rapport
  • provide inspiration and motivation
  • add an element of fun

HOLIDAY BELL RINGERS

Give me some of all of that, please! Now that we’ve established that music “rocks,” so what? What does it have to do with the ELA curriculum? I can’t think of anyone who has never used songs in an English class. Personally, I like to tie music into poetry and figurative language, and one of the ways I do that is through bell ringers. This is an especially engaging exercise during the holiday season.

The Common Core Standards require students to demonstrate an understanding of figurative language, to interpret figures of speech, and to analyze their roles in texts. Sometimes it might feel like a stretch to make a fun activity meet a standard, but music makes it simple and fun while maintaining the rigor required for high school students. I use these Jingle Bell Ringers during the month of December.

Winter holiday bell ringers

JINGLE BELL RINGERS

What are Jingle Bell Ringers?  They are task cards that focus on figurative language in classic and modern holiday songs. Each task card has an excerpt from a popular song, like “Jingle Bells,” “Feliz Navidad,” and “All I Want for Christmas.” Students are asked to focus on the excerpt provided and answer a question about figurative language in the music. I suggest using them as bell ringers because they only take a few minutes; however, you could also use them in a single day as a station activity or social review of figurative language before final exams.

How do I use them? What I do is play the song indicated on the task card at the beginning of class. Students listen and reap all the benefits of music as they complete that day’s bell-ringer task. Upon turning in their answers, I project the bell ringer up on the board, and we discuss the answer together as a class so they have immediate feedback and a quick review.

How do I grade them? I love this part. Grading is easy because I don’t grade them! Students generally do not ask me if they are a grade because they get to listen to music and socialize.

What’s the best part? Students like them! They enjoy guessing what the song will be for the next day, and they appreciate the opportunity to slow down and regulate at the beginning of each class period.

So, holiday lessons can be very simple and effective with older students. I hope this simple strategy for sharing holiday cheer with your students brings some joy to your classroom this December!

“Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks, and invents.”

~ Ludwig van Beethoven ~


RELATED RESOURCE:

Click on the image below to view the holiday lessons task cards that put my students and I in a jolly spirit at the beginning of each class period!

Winter holiday bell ringers

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5 Comments

  1. lauraleemoss says:

    Extra credit for a fun holiday song is perfect. I love this idea!

  2. Julie Faulkner says:

    I’ve got your figurative language task cards ready to go. I really like that they are multiple choice!

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