I thought I would share some of my favorite Christmas games and activities I have done with my students over the years. Most do not require any printing! If you are new to the idea of running a Christmas camp or group lesson, I highly recommend it! You can read why and how I do Christmas camps in this post, Christmas Camps: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
I love to do composition activities with my students.
One of my favorite ideas is to take a Christmas story and create sound stories out of them. You can do this either with different instruments or create short motifs on the piano. Years ago at a past Christmas camp, I did this with the gingerbread man story. Each student had a part in the story and created their own motifs…
Another year in a Christmas camp years ago we created a Christmas Cookie suite. I separated students into small groups of 3-4 and each group composed a piece about a cookie. Then I took all the compositions and we made it into a Christmas Cookie suite. (Some of the composition titles they came up with were: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cha, Cha, Powered Sugar March, Marshmallow Cookie Waltz) I wrote a poem introducing the suite and bound everything together so they could take it home. What a fun project it was!
One more composition activity idea that I enjoy doing with my students is to create story compositions. Students are creating, once again a basic motif for each page of their storyline. This time they are also creating the story! I’ve had students do this during their lab time each week. One year I had them work on their story one week out of the month, and other times I took a complete month and worked on a particular story. Story Compositions can easily become a group activity where students are creating a storyline together and then coming up with the motifs.
Rhythm and Ear Training
Scrambled Rhythms are a favorite game! I like to play a Christmas melody but change up the rhythms then have students guess what the piece is! I love to play the C scale going down for Joy to the World. That one is usually a tough one for them to get. It’s my favorite one to do because it reiterates how important rhythm is!
Another fun game we have done is Clap the Christmas melody. Students hear just the rhythm clapped and students guess what it is.
Performance and Sight-Reading
Christmas camp is the perfect time to perform Christmas, Hanukkah and other seasonal music with each other. We usually combine this with Name That Tune. They listen to the student playing their holiday piece and then afterward see if they can name that tune! I would suggest having a piece of paper available to students to write down the tunes quietly because it is very tempting for some of them to shout it out!
I love using Boomwhackers during group activities. One book that I have used and can recommend for Christmas camp is Boomwhacker’s Building Blocks- Christmas songs. (affiliate link) Here are some of my students playing some of the pieces from that book.
I also have a set of chimes my Dad made years ago and gave me for Christmas. Playing the chimes have been a family tradition on Christmas Eve when I was growing up. If you are lucky enough to own chimes or bells, those are also very fun to use during Christmas camp!
It’s always fun to watch a Christmas performance like these two videos from the Piano Guys!
To get things started the first week of Christmas camp, I like to play a musical “hot potato” style theory game. Students passed around a mini stocking answering theory questions if the music stopped on them.
A favorite activity among many students was the Christmas song dynamic activity. One student hides an item (in this case a treble clef ornament) while another student finds it. The trick is, all the students must sing Christmas songs that everyone knew (usually Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas) using different dynamic ranges to give the finder a hint on where the ornament was hidden. They learned that it isn’t simply going from piano to forte, they must work up from piano to forte by gradually getting there. (p, mp, mf, f, ff, etc…) If we had more time, I would have some students play their Christmas pieces using different dynamics for their finding hints. This would be a fun activity to even do at home. What a fun practice tool to get them to practice a piece over and over!
Another game you can do with any group activity is I Spy. For Christmas camp I give students the same piece of Christmas music then I will say, I spy… and they have to quickly find the measure of what I am spying. You can say the symbol name or you can describe the symbol.
Oh, there are so many fun games we have done over the years! I love Christmas camp! It is truly my win-win over the holiday season.
If you are familiar with my camps, you know I typically like to create my camps around our yearly theme and build a lesson plan around that theme. This year my studio theme is Musicathlon, which is a theme inspired by the Olympics. (I like to do this every 4 years in conjunction with the winter Olympics) In the Musicathlon program, we are working on a 30 piece challenge while we progress through different musical “events” such as Note Relay, Ear Training Intervals, etc. Because of this, I decided this year I would do Christmas games and activities that go along with the events students are working on and passing off.
GREAT NEWS! If you bought the course, Make More, Teach Less: A Comprehensive Guide to Running a Music Camp or Workshop, I will be adding a BONUS module where I share my personal lesson plan for my Christmas Musicathlon camp very soon! (The lesson plan will not be available anywhere else and will not include the actual resources)
Haven’t checked out this course yet? You can find all about it here! If you use the coupon code: CHRISTMASCAMP2017 you will receive $10 off the course good through Nov. 15th. But don’t wait too long, you will want to start planning your Christmas camp or group lesson now PLUS get a jump on summer planning!
Looking for more Christmas camp lessons plans, games and activities? You can find some in my store.