Winter Holiday Songs | African Noel

Are you searching for winter holiday songs for your music class or for performance? African Noel will become one of your favorites.  It is such a simple, joyful song. With the K-5 differentiated activities in this arrangement, the song becomes easy enough for kindergarten but still provides challenging opportunities for upper elementary students.

African Noel can do double duty as a Christmas song or to celebrate Kwanzaa. It is perfect for all-school performances.

This arrangement includes guided instruction, a simple step dance & differentiated Orff accompaniment patterns. It is available at Frau Musik USA on TpT.

Clitk to listen to the Orff arrangement below.

Winter Holiday Song with Rhythm Instruments | African Noel

Differentiated Activities for Elementary Grades

This arrangement includes three different levels of differentiation along with suggested activities for each grade level. In order to provide for differentiation between grade levels as well as within each class, the activities themselves are not labeled with levels or grades. Meet your students where they are. Use the activities which fit each class.

Music Elements in Winter Holiday Song with Differentiated Orff Arrangement for Grades K-5 | African Noel
Suggested Activities
Differentiated Music Elements for Elementary Music Class
Music Elements Included at Each Level

Multitasking Winter Holiday Song

This multitasking song includes MANY fun activities to teach many music elements and concepts.

  • Form – ABA
  • Simple Step Dance
  • Vocabulary – Introducing Ties
  • Interactive Flashcards | Note Values & Ties
  • Ostinato 1 – Tambourine
  • Ostinato 2 – Bongos
  • Xylophone 1 (or other barred instrument)
  • Xylophone 2 (or other barred instrument)

Teaching Tips | Form, Song, & Movement

  • Song & Form. Teach the form & song at the same time. Identifying the form will help students learn the song.
  • Step Dance. Add movement near the middle of a class session. Young children “check out” if they sit too long.  The simple step dance breaks up long class periods.

Unpitched Rhythm Instruments | Body Percussion

  • If your students are ready, read the rhythm pattern first. If not, learn the patterns by rote and add body percussion.
  • Use the following vocal pattern to guide students as you practice body percussion with your hands. Clap, (Z), clap, (Z), clap, (Z), sha-ake.

Note: Z = rest

Learning Bongos Pattern

When teaching bongos patterns, it is important to identify the higher and lower drums. Position the drum so the lower drum is on the left.

  • Read the rhythm pattern first.
  • Identify student’s left knee as the low pitch of the bongos and their right knee as the higher pitch.
  • Practice using body percussion on knees while reading rhythm patterns and/or the accompanying lyrics.

Note: (Be sure to reverse the pattern as you demonstrate.)

Instrumentation: Pitched Percussion

  • Read the Rhythm. Even though the rhythm is simple, don’t skip this step.
  • Form. Draw students’ attention again to the form of the song. Teach each section separately and show how the accompaniment matches the form, melody, and lyrics.
  • Low/High. If your students are not reading treble clef notes yet (and even if they are) this is a good opportunity to draw their attention to high/low and how the patterns match the instrument. You can use this mantra to help students remember, low notes are “low, long, and left”.
  • Learn each pattern separately. By chunking the song into short phrases, students will learn faster and retain more.
  • Read the Rhythm.  If ties are new to your students, begin by reading the rhythm without the ties, then demonstrate how the ties simply slide into the next note without re-articulating. If you are using Kodály rhythm syllables, pattern 1 & 2 would sound like this, ti-ti ta, ti-ti ta, ti-ti ti-ti-ah-ah.
  • Sing the Pitches.  To provide for differentiation, the music is notated both with and without note name prompts. Slides may be printed to assist individual students if necessary.
Winter Holiday Song with Differentiated Orff Arrangement for Grades K-5 | African Noel Preview
  • Demonstrate & “Air Play”.  Use the xylophone template provided in this lesson to demonstrate what the patterns LOOK like. Direct students to use their fingers as mallets, point them at the board, “air play” and sing the pitches as you demonstrate. (When playing two notes at once, I have students sing the lower pitch and maintain an interval of a 3rd. They catch on quickly.) Additional directions are included in the lesson.
African Noel Xylophone Template

DON’T SKIP “Air Play” practice. It will save you so much time and students will be much more successful.

Note: If you need versatile, interactive xylophone templates that work for any song on any standard Orff instruments, click to preview this set of 6 Interactive Mallet Instrument Templates.

Final Thoughts

This tried and true song has worked SO well for our Holiday Music Assemblies. It is easy to integrate various instrumental parts for different grade levels. The differentiated activities engage students at each level. And, it is FUN!

If you are in need more Diverse Winter Holiday Songs, click to read this post. Don’t miss the FREE Chinese New Year and Ramadan song in this post.

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