As restrictions are more relaxed this year, you may have the opportunity to put on an end of term/Christmas show for other classes or parents.
Whether this takes the form of a traditional nativity or a festive concert will depend on the religious denomination of the children and their parents. It is also down to personal preference. You know the children in your care and their strengths and weaknesses.
Any performance should showcase their talents to their best advantage. This is their time to shine and show their nearest and dearest what they have learned. It’s also about teamwork and learning that when we all work together, we can create something greater than the sum of its parts.
In any case, the key to a smooth performance is rehearsal.
Not to contract our recent blog on the best time to start Christmas activities, but you do need to introduce any songs or lines as soon as you open the first door on your advent calendar.
Children learn by repetition and are excellent natural mimics. You can use this innate skill to help them to learn many things, from new languages to songs or simple dance routines.
Repetitive songs are also perfect for teaching sign language as children simply see it as a series of actions and pick it up. As such, you can make the show more inclusive and teach the children a small amount of British Sign Language which may help them interact with deaf or hearing impaired children and adults in later life. BSL also helps to hone fine motor skills as many of the words and letters are spelt using subtle finger movements and gestures.
Inspiration & Adaptation
To teach children the story of the nativity in a way they can understand, you could adapt the words from one of the children’s favourite books such as Michael Rosen’s ‘We’re Going on a Baby Hunt’ which becomes ‘We’re going on a Baby Hunt’. The story then sees the children search for baby Jesus.
If a nativity doesn’t feel right, focus on festive tunes and characters such as snowmen, reindeer, and, of course, Santa Claus.
There are numerous Christmas and winter stories that you can draw inspiration from. From Frozen and Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ to reimagined versions of the Nativity such as ‘The Christmas Story’ by Ian Beck, there are plenty of EYFS festive reads to stock your bookcase with and adapt.
You can also do away with any characters and just go for a good old-fashioned sing-song. ‘ Jingle Bells’ is a particular favourite with young children and you can incorporate bells and other instruments. ‘When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney’, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, and ‘Frosty the Snowman’ are also evergreen classics. The ‘Christmas Alphabet’ has the advantage of supporting literacy skills.
Keep it simple, and give parents plenty of time if you require them to help out with costumes. On the other hand, it never hurts to ask what they already have as you may find they already own the perfect snow princess dress or a shepherd’s robe in their child’s size. If not, you only need a pillowcase rather than a sheet for a child-sized costume. Again, work with what you have. Chances are small children are not going to keep them clean and wrinkle-free for very long so as long as they vaguely resemble the character, and more importantly, are comfortable for the children to wear, you’re good to go.
Alternatively, plan your Christmas concert for Christmas Jumper Day (Friday, December 10th this year) and donate to Save the Children. You can explain to the children in your care the basic concept. The charity has stated many times that a ‘Christmas jumper’ can be an old sweater decorated with tinsel or with a felt festive character sewn on the front.
Seating & Safety
Depending on space and facilities, you may be able to invite parents to the live performance. If so, you should try to ensure that the chairs are spread out and provide hand sanitiser and masks. If space is at a premium so may only be able to invite one parent or primary caregiver. Childminders who work from home may not want so many adults in their home at once, or there could be other practical considerations such as accessibility.
Filming & Photos
Whether you can invite parents or not, it’s always a good idea to record both the performance itself and the dress rehearsal. If time allows, have the dress rehearsal on a different day. That way, if one of the children can’t make it or other circumstances change, you still have the show on film. Obviously, you must be careful to only send the film to the children’s parents, and obtain proof that you can send it to each set of parents beforehand.
You could also create individual photo books of the show, including candid shots of rehearsals and any important notes such as ‘performed three songs with a big loud voice and remembered all the words’. These books make excellent presents for parents and are something they can keep and look back on with the children when they are older.
Don’t panic if everything doesn’t quite go according to plan. The second shepherd from the left falling asleep in the stable because it’s past nap time will become a treasured story. Likewise, the child who proudly sang the ‘Batman Smells’ version of the song.
The most important thing is that everyone has a good time and makes some special memories with their friends.