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Holiday Lesson Plans for Elementary Music – December 2023

Do you need fun holiday lessons for your elementary music classes? These diverse multitasking activities are sure to become your new favorites.

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‘Tis the season for CRAZINESS! The fluctuating schedules of the holiday season can often leave our children unsettled and unfocused, both in school and at home. But,
December is a month filled with valuable learning opportunities!

Do you need a few lessons to celebrate diverse holidays and stay on target with music literacy objectives? With careful planning, focused lessons, and possibly some intentional paring down, this month can be a time of both productive learning and joyful celebrations.

💡 Don’t miss the two FREE resources, the video listening map, and the rhythm play-along video included in this post.

Nutcracker in front of Christmas Tree

December has SO Many Fun Holidays and SO Few School Days

Don’t forget about these special observances.

  • December 6 – St. Nicholas Day
  • December 13 – Violin Day
  • December 15 – National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day 
  • December 7-15 – Hanukkah
  • December 21 – Winter Solstice
  • December 22 – National Cookie Exchange Day
  • December 25 – Christmas
  • December 26 – Kwanzaa begins
  • January 31 – New Year’s Eve

Weekly Observances

  • Week 1 – Cookie Cutter Week
  • Week 2 – Computer Science Education Week

Monthly Observances

  • National Egg Nog Month
  • National Fruit Cake Month
  • National Tie Month

Diverse Winter Holiday Songs with Fun Orff Accompaniments

Do you need a last-minute addition to your holiday program or classroom activities? These guided music lessons teach music literacy skills and include tried and true differentiated Orff arrangements for grades K-5.

Click to see this post for more Diverse Winter Holiday Songs.

It Wouldn’t be the Holidays Without this Traditional Ballet

Students need to know the story of The Nutcracker to understand the ballet and the music. There are many quality versions of the story, but this is one of my favorites – The Nutcracker, by New York City Ballet (Affiliate Link). After you read the story and set the stage, students are ready to learn more.

This Sugar Plum Fairy Listening Map by Smalin helps students identify the texture, melody, and form of the piece while being engaged with the music.

Hearing and “seeing” the piece prepares students to play this Sugar Plum Fairy Play-Along. Consider using scarves to outline the melodic contour of the music during the B section.

The Nutcracker

Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Thank you to Music and Motivate and the other talented creators who have generously shared their work.

YouTube video

If you have not found Musication’s YouTube Channel yet, you’re in for a treat. They have a ton of FUN play-along activities that are FREE and easy to follow. Below is their Trepak video complete with a “symbol key”.

YouTube video

Interactive Rhythm Flashcards are FUN!

You don’t have to choose to focus on music literacy skills or celebrate the holidays. These Christmas Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards include 8 differentiated levels for grades K-5. Level 1 includes iconic reading while levels 2-8 progress sequentially. 

The activities will always be new and fresh with 10 Fun Ways to Use Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards.

Free Rhythm Clip Cards for Early Elementary Grades

Clip Cards are perfect for practice, review, and/or assessment. You may use them as whole group activities or centers/stations.

Simple Prep

  • Print
  • Laminate
  • One Straight Cut
  • Quick Trim

Need leveled cards for grades K-5? Click to take a peek at our Complete Christmas Clip Cards Set.

Printable and/or Digital Puzzles are Perfect for those In-Between Days

Do you need a few FUN activities for the gaps between units or performances? Take a peek at these versatile puzzles. They’re PRINTABLE as standard worksheets OR your students may complete them in a DIGITAL format using Easel. (Easel is TpT’s digital online tool and it is free to use with these activities.) These NO-PREP worksheets are ready to assign.

This FREE Winter Holidays Break the Code Puzzle introduces students to diverse holidays and cultures different from their own. 

These Music Symbols Printable and Digital Puzzles include scrambled words, word search, and crossword puzzles. Puzzles may be used as centers or stations, to introduce/reinforce music vocabulary, for sub days, for fast finishers, or as holiday take-home packets.

Answer keys are included which makes them easy sub day activities.

Learning About Instruments is an Important Part of Music Literacy

Knowing the main instruments of the band and orchestra IS part of developing musical literacy. These puzzles work well to introduce a new family of instruments or as a review activity.

Do you need something fast and FREE? Download this FREE Brass Family Puzzle Set and give Easel, the TpT digital tool a try.

Do you need activities that include ALL of the main instruments of the orchestra and band? The complete Instrument Family Puzzles Set has 10 separate scrambled word/word search and crossword puzzles which include all of the main instrument families.

Plan Ahead to Integrate History into Your Music Class Activities

In January we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. and in February we place a special emphasis on Black History. These activities are perfect for any time of year, but they take on even greater significance during this season.

These lessons are some of my all-time favorites for the elementary music classroom! Each resource is designed for grades K-5 and includes leveled biographies of civil rights leaders written for both early and upper elementary students. Differentiated Orff arrangements of authentic African American spirituals make them versatile for year-round use.

Consider adding one or two of these song arrangements to an upcoming music program. Or, use all three and build a program around these pieces.

Click to listen to the arrangements in the video previews.

Start the New Year Fresh with Complete Music Literacy Bundles

It is important to plan ahead but it’s also important to be flexible. The new year is a time to pause and reflect on the past. What are the music literacy levels of your students? Are there gaps in their learning? Are you making time for music reading every day? 

If you’re having trouble making music literacy a priority, take a peek at this post with tips to help you Integrate Music Reading into Every Lesson. Then take a peek at these ready-to-teach guided music reading resources to fill in a few gaps in your program.

Easily Find the Perfect Music Resources

It’s hard to find the perfect songs and activities to teach specific music elements. This easy-to-use Elementary Music Literacy Resource Guide includes a detailed index of music elements which makes it simple to find the ideal activities.

This helpful index includes many FREE as well as helpful paid resources. That’s a Win Win!

December is a Month of Holidays, Hectic Schedules, and REAL Learning!

Yes, December is a CRAZY month with hectic schedules, but real learning takes place too. Remember to save a little time for the “just-for-fun” stuff too. ❆


More for Elementary Music Teachers

Below are some of our favorite seasonal children’s storybooks.

The Nutcracker

Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Polar Express 30th Anniversary Edition: A Christmas Holiday Book for Kids

Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Meet the Author

Terri Lloyd is a former elementary music teacher with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Science in Education, and a Technology Certificate in Instructional Design.

She is currently active in music education through blogging, workshops, and curriculum development. She serves on the music staff at her church and volunteers for an after-school children’s program. Terri is an active musician in the community, performing in a local Big Band, pit orchestras, and various events.

More Ways to Connect – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

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