Christmas is a time of joy and excitement and one way we celebrate is by singing songs. Some traditional Christmas songs may have too complicated lyrics for young children to learn, understand or remember – Good King Wenceslas anyone?
Whether you a planning a Christmas show for parents, or just want to make song-time more festive, you need to use songs that the children like and remember. Funny lyrics and actions are a big help in this department!
Singing songs helps with speech and language development. Songs with physical actions also get the children moving, and help with fine motor skills, particularly if they involve finger gestures.
We’ve previously mentioned teaching basic elements of British Sign Language through actions in songs. Christmas songs are great for teaching BSL as they include lots of repetitive words and actions.
There are several songs that are suited to the talents of young children. Some songs are for all ages groups. Others have been created with early years in mind. Through the magic of the Internet, you can find children’s Christmas songs from around the world.
So, without further ado, here are our top 10 picks for Christmas songs the under-fives just can’t get enough of.
1. Rudolph is a Cheeky Reindeer
Top of the tree, it’s this cute ditty all the way from New Zealand! Featuring lyrics such as “take three steps in and clap your hands and wave your tail around” this fun little number has a built-in simple dance routine that incorporates twirling, stomping, shaking imaginary tails and more – all the fun things in life!
2. When Santa Got Stuck up the Chimney
This one always causes much amusement in the under-fives, who love the pretend sneezing and can’t get enough of the image the song paints. We don’t blame them. The image of a fat jolly gentleman stuck halfway up a chimney is definitely funny!
BSL can also be incorporated, with everyday words such as ‘beard’ ‘sack’ and ‘shout’ repeated in the chorus.
3. Jingle Bells
A classic for a reason. Jingle Bells has the advantage of children and parents already knowing the words. It’s also one of the easiest Christmas songs to incorporate music into.
If you have babies or non-verbal children in the group, encouraging them to join in by shaking the bells will ensure no one is left out of the performance.
4. 5 Snowmen (or how many children are in the group)
A counting song with a festive twist, this song can be adapted for however many children are in the group. The children enjoy shimming down to the floor as they ‘melt’ one by one.
If you are doing a show and want to incorporate a solo, this song would work well. Have the soloist be the last snowman to melt and sing the last chorus on their own before they do so.
5. 5 Little Christmas Trees
As with the snowmen, this song requires each child to flop down, as each tree is chopped down to go home with a ‘happy family’. Both songs also work well for BSL and non-verbal children who can still join in with the actions.
6. Twinkle Twinkle Christmas Star
Using a song the children know well and adapting it slightly for Christmas is a good move if you’re pushed for time and a performance is coming up. The children only need to remember to change ‘little’ to ‘Christmas’ and if they forget on the day, it really doesn’t matter. If you are signing, the children only need to learn ‘Christmas’ which will be useful in just about every other festive song.
7. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Rudolph can be both a cheeky reindeer and a red-nosed reindeer. If you’re pushed for time, singing songs that the children already know such as this one can make those last few days in the run-up to Christmas go as fast as Santa’s sleigh.
8. Frosty the Snowman
Likewise, the first section of Frosty the Snowman is likely to already be on most children and parents’ radars. Lyrics such as “Was a very jolly soul” highlight emotions in a child-friendly way and the children can point to their eyes and nose at the correct moments. It is probably best to stick to the first section as the lyrics are less well known and become slightly more complicated as the song continues.
9. The Christmas Alphabet
One of the oldest songs on our list, The Christmas Alphabet helps children to associate words with the letter they begin with. The lyrics are lovely, it’s short, and the whole song is repeated twice, with the addition of ‘Capital C’ in the send go-around. It also contains rhyming words, such as ‘pane’ and ‘cane’ and ‘wall’ and ‘tall’ so you can ask the children to think of some other words that rhyme.
10. The 12 Days of Christmas
Last but not least, it’s the 12 days of Christmas. Even though some of the lyrics may be tongue twisters, the repetition and counting aspect of the song makes it a good choice for both speech and numeracy skills.
Bonus Track: We Wish You a Merry Christmas
If you are having a group performance, a song such as ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ is a great way to indicate the show is finished and it’s potentially home time. Parents and children can sing together, and the children can leave the stage of file out of the room if necessary.
There you have it, our picks for the best Christmas songs to sing with early years children. Of course, there are many more festive songs out there, particularly if you want to incorporate some from other countries, such as ‘Feliz Navidad’ and ‘O Tannenbaum’.
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Merry Christmas Everyone!