Mia Hollingworth has created a delightfully festive Christmas dance project that can be done in any Primary classroom. It combines Dance and Drama in a range of fun activities that will dance you towards that well earned holiday break.
There are some other ideas on Dance Teaching Ideas for Christmas performances, games and dance activities.
Merry Christmas Dance lovers!
8 Dance Activities for a Merry Christmas Dance and Drama Performance
By Mia Hollingworth
The countdown to Christmas is on and I have been asked to write up some quick, fun activities.
Christmas is the perfect occasion to bring out our inner dancer, singer and naughty elf, all of which induces merriment. To help you do this I have chosen ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, a fun, well-known carol which can translate into a number of activities and lessons.
The 12 Days of Christmas dance activities
Below is a list of 8 activities with accompanied suggestions that support students learning. These can be done as stand-alone mini-lessons or be fleshed out into full Dance/Drama lessons.
Choose your own Christmas dance adventure!
Depending on the age and year level of your students and how silly you want to get this Christmas, teachers can pick ‘n’ choose from the list or take it all the way, culminating in an end of year whole school performance.
#1 Learn and sing the song
Students will learn the song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’.
You can display the words on the interactive whiteboard and or make hard copies for your older students. For the younger years, you could use visual support displaying numbers and pictures that match the lyrics.
Play a version of the song between lessons so students can sing-along throughout the day until all 12 days can be recalled and the carol can be sung from beginning to end.
#2 Divide and add it together
You could divide the group into pairs (or 12 small groups) so each group takes ownership of their assigned special day of Christmas – picked out of a hat.
Learning in accumulative form helps young students find patterns and recall the music and words more easily. The muppets did a sweet little version of an accumulating performance.
A little mathematic accumulative task could be done here as you add up all the times the 12 things are sung.
How many times does my ‘true love’ give me 2 turtle doves?
How many turtle doves do they give me in total?
#3 Putting actions to the words
In the same pairs or small groups, students will create a skit that matches their assigned special day of Christmas. Each small skit needs to match the length of their lyrics, able to be repeated and is simple to remember and learn.
This can get a little silly but what the heck, it’s Christmas! Let the children be as creative and as funny as they want, however, do let them know that for their part to be successfully entertaining they need to be able to keep a straight face while performing it.
For the younger years’ you might need to scaffold students by helping them with some movement ideas. Below is a list of the 12 days of Christmas and a few examples to get you going.
12 Drummers Drumming – Marching on the spot while air drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a-leaping
9 Ladies Dancing – Girls do a ballet twirl
8 Maids a-milking
7 Swans a-swimming
6 Geese a-laying – Drop into a squat and make a laying noise
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds – Coo Coo like your favourite bird call
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
Partridge in a Pear Tree
#4 Present, practice and perform
Students will stand in a big circle and each pair/group will perform their skit in the middle of the circle while the whole group sings the matching lyric from The 12 Days of Christmas.
#5 Rewrite the Days of Christmas bringing it to the present day
Students will use the original 12 Days of Christmas and re-write them, bringing it to the present day. The same format, rhythm and style will be considered.
For the younger years’ this activity would need lots of modelling but don’t let that put you off. Maybe as a whole class you just change one day, or burnt out teachers you may want to skip this one all-together… I see you!
#6 Teach and learn all The 12 Days of Christmas all together
Much of the performance is phrases of short choreography that spell out each of the 12 days. Student’s will teach and learn each-others short movement with the aim to have a complete and finished work to perform.
The next and final stage of the processes is to devise the whole piece from beginning to end. This might require more teacher input for the younger years. However, for older students you could re-introduce some choreographic devices such as; spatial arrangements, repetition, variation, canon, abstraction that can be utilised to make it more visually interesting for the viewer.
Open up the space for students to bring out any special, latent or quirky talents they can weave into the number.
You could perform the original and/or present day version your class created in activity #6.
You could also get the school choir and/or band involved for musical back-up and turn this number into a school spectacular.
#8 School Performance
Students can dress up as characters from the song, for example: swans, maidens, French hens, trees and all things Christmas. Some students may not want to act out the lyrics or want to sing, so make sure you accommodate this so ALL children participate and enjoy the experience.
This performance will be sure to get the crowd singing along and put a smile on everyone’s face.
I encourage you, the teacher, to let the children take ownership of this. Give them time throughout the day to practice and pull it all together.
These activities are designed to not only showcase your students’ talent but, perhaps more importantly, to develop their critical and creative thinking and personal and social capabilities while having fun.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Mia Hollingworth is an Australian educator, education content writer and performance artist based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Completing a Bachelor of Education in 2017 and she is about to embark on the journey of death doula training. Mia is committed to dance advocacy through contributing to conversations, writing and education.