Using diverse winter holiday songs in elementary music class provides the perfect opportunity to teach about cultures different from our own.
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Are you looking for diverse winter holiday songs for your elementary music classroom or for a program? Diverse holiday songs provide the perfect opportunity to teach and learn about cultures different from our own. Our school district has long taken the stance that it’s important to teach songs of various religions and cultures.
With the current climate in our country, this is more important than ever. Tolerance and respect for other cultures are paramount. And, winter holiday programs provide the perfect opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our country.
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Program Songs and Activities which Promote Music Literacy
During the holiday season, music teachers often shift from teaching music reading and performance skills to teaching elaborate programs by rote. This is not surprising because it’s hard to find pieces that are both performance-worthy and that teach music reading skills. Moreover, holiday programs often involve multiple grade levels, which makes it even harder to find appropriate repertoire.
You don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” each year. Take a peek at a few of the tried and true resources below.
Unfortunately, the Diwali song I have used in the past has been taken down. I searched high and low for that perfect Diwali song but it’s no longer online. This YouTube link is to another song about Diwali traditions.
Note: If you use this link in class, preload the video or use a site like SafeShare to avoid commercials.
- Diwali – Festival of Lights, National Geographic, 3:05
Ramadan by Nancy Stewart
Finding a quality Ramadan song for classroom use is hard. This song by Nancy Stewart is a tasteful and beautiful song about inclusion. The lyrics teach some basic Ramadan traditions. The last time the chorus is sung, the words change slightly to emphasize friendship, “Ramadan, Ramadan, my friend celebrates Ramadan.”
And best of all, this lovely song is FREE.
Thank you Nancy for sharing your talents so generously.
Hanukkah – Burn Little Candles, arr. Frau Musik
Burn Little Candles is a simple, yet musical song of Hanukkah traditions. This arrangement includes a differentiated Orff arrangement for grades K-5. The Orff activities provide attainable performance options for young students while challenging older students.
All grades will enjoy lighting the digital Hanukkah candles and learning about Hanukkah traditions.
Click to listen to a recording of the arrangement in the video preview.
Christmas – Mary Had a Baby, arr. Frau Musik
Mary Had a Baby is a simple, beautiful Christmas song for the music classroom or your winter holiday program. This Orff arrangement works beautifully for school or church.
The arrangement includes differentiated activities for grades K-5. The bongo ostinato pattern challenges students in the upper grades while simpler ostinati provide successful performance activities for younger grades.
The following performance activities are included.
- 2 pitched ostinato patterns
- 2 unpitched ostinato patterns
- Interactive rhythm flashcards.
Click to listen to the arrangement in the video preview.
Christmas or Kwanzaa – African Noel, arr. Frau Musik
African Noel is a joyous, energetic Winter Holiday Song with K-5 differentiated activities. This song may be used to celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa. The lesson provides attainable performance options for young students while challenging older students. This arrangement is a perfect performance option for both school and church.
The following activities are included.
- 2 unpitched percussion parts
- 2 pitched percussion parts
- Simple step-dance for younger students
Click to listen to a recording of this arrangement in the video preview.
Take a peek at this blog post – Winter Holidays Songs – African Noel to learn more.
Chinese New Year – Gung Hay Fat Choy, Nancy Stewart
Gung Hay Fat Choy translates as “wishing you good fortune and happiness.” Once again, Nancy Stewart has crafted a beautiful tasteful song for Chinese New Year and is sharing it FREE of charge.
One of my school parents told me this song touched her so much, that it brought tears to her eyes.
Tip: To avoid all the giggles and snickers from singing the word “fat”, I admit I change the word to “fa” with the same short “a” sound. We simply left off the “t”. This small change ensures that students are focused on the beautiful message of the song and not being silly about the lyrics.
Enjoy and Celebrate Diversity
Given the diverse backgrounds of students in our music classes, it’s important to acknowledge the holidays and traditions they observe. And, incorporating these varied winter holiday songs into your elementary music classroom and performances helps create a well-rounded program while creating musically rewarding experiences for all students.
Use the power of music to help develop tolerance and respect in your elementary music classroom and have fun and learn music literacy skills along the way.
Build students’ connections and spread joy!
Diverse Holiday Song Bundle
Are you looking for FUN simple, attainable, and musical Winter Holiday Songs with K-5 differentiated music activities for classroom or performance? This BUNDLE of diverse songs with differentiated Orff arrangements is the perfect addition to your holiday repertoire.
Click to preview.
📚 Featured Storybooks – Winter Holidays
There are many children’s storybooks to introduce the various holidays. These books are all from the Holiday Books for Kids series. Each book includes the history, traditions, customs, and interactive activities.
The series above doesn’t include a Kwanzaa book. The following book is from the My Family Celebrates series and is geared more toward younger students.
- Holiday Lesson Plans for Elementary Music
- Fun Winter Holiday Song for Elementary Music – African Noel
- 30 Ugly Christmas Sweaters for Teachers
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.