Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas is a great time to learn some music and have fun learning to read and write.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town is great, because aside from it being fun, most of the language is pretty simple and easy to explain using pictures or miming.  This is also a great opportunity for the kids to get some reading and writing in since they already know the vocabulary.

We played Sentence Scramble and Dictation – 2 fun games that require movement and if played in teams, requires team work.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town dictationTo play Sentence Scramble:

  • print out a copy of the lyrics.
  • cut each sentence into strips and then cut (separate) each word
  • take 9 envelopes and label them 1 to 9 (use pens the same color as the sentences, that way if any of the words gets lost or mixed up, you know which envelope it goes into) and put 1 sentence in per envelope

Sentence Scramble requires 6 or less players or 6 or less teams.  Each team or player will need 1 pencil and 1 sheet of paper.  Place envelopes at the front of the room.

Object of the game:  to be the first person to unscramble all the sentences.

Rules when playing with individual players:  1. each player should run up and grab and envelope (not necessarily in numerical order) 2. write down the number on the envelope, open it and unscramble the sentence (if the kids have problems, I hum the song for them) 3. write the sentence correctly and then show the teacher 4. if the sentence is correct, he/she should put the sentence back into the envelope and grab another one and unscramble the next sentence.

Rules for playing in teams:  1. have teams sit together.  2. Assign a team member to be the runner and to be a writer.  3. On go, the runners run and get the envelope, the whole team works together to unscramble the sentence 4. the writer writes the sentence correctly and shows it to the teacher.  5. if the sentence is correct, the runner puts the sentence back into the envelope and a new runner and writer are assigned and the game goes on until all the envelopes are unscrambled.  The first team to unscramble all the sentences wins.

To play Dictation:

  • print a copy of the lyrics
  • cut each sentence into strips

Dictation is best played in 6 or fewer teams.  Each team will need 1 pencil and eraser and 1 sheet of paper.  Tape each sentence face down (or face up on a table, but in a way that the teams can’t see what is written).

Rules when playing with individual players:  1. each team is assigned a Writer and the rest of the team members are Runners (keep groups small or too many kids will be running around) 2. the Runners run up to a sentence, memorize it and how it is spelled, runs back to the writer and dictates the sentence.  3.The Writer writes down the sentence and the Runners must run back and forth making sure the sentence is correct, including spelling. 4. when a team is finished, the writer shows the sentence to a teacher, if the sentence is correct, someone else becomes the Writer and the game keeps going until all the sentences are written down.  The first team to correctly dictate and write down the sentences wins. The sentences should always stay at the front of the room and the pencils and papers should always stay with the writers (sometimes the kids try and cheat and bring these things together, but that really defeats the point of the game, doesn’t it 🙂

This game can also be played with individual players, each player must leave the sheet of paper at his/her desk. First he/she runs and memorize as much of a sentence as possible, runs back and writes it down.  Word order and spelling must be correct.

These two games can be played with more than just songs, you can create your own by using text from stories, when learning grammar or for just about anything you want.

Fishing For Alphabet

Per leggere questo post in italiano, cliccate qui.

What you will need:

  • a plastic container with lid.*
  • acrylic paint or construction paper
  • kitchen string
  • glue
  • short dowels, sticks or chopsticks (one for each player)
  • magnets (one for each pole)
  • 26 paper clips
  • the alphabet (you can use the one above, write them on bits of paper or cut them out of magazines)

To make the pond**:

  1. Decorate the outside of the plastic container with an underwater scene (if the container has slanted walls it’s easier if you paint it, if it has straight walls you can either paint it or cover it in paper). Ours is a combination painted and paper collage with a finishing layer of plastic wrap on to add a more watery look (ok, that’s not really the real reason…I was just looking for a quick and easy way to keep the little paper bits from peeling off sooner than later).
  2. Cover the lid with blue paper and cut a hole into the center. Put the lid back onto the container.  Now your pond is finished.

Preparing the alphabet:

  1.  Print off the alphabet page above and cut up the squares. Attach paper clips to each square.

Making the fishing poles:

  1. Cut off a short length of string, approx 10 in/25 cm.  It can be made longer for older kids. Tie it to one end of the stick and put a dot of glue so the string doesn’t slide up or down.
  2. Glue a magnet to the other end of the string.

Now you are ready to play.  Each player takes turn fishing the letter out, if he is able to read it, he can keep it.  If he isn’t able to read it, he has to throw the letter back into the pond.

*I didn’t have a plastic container so I used a metal one – what was I thinking? The magnet kept sticking to the can! I put in a layer of craft foam to correct this.  Another problem with using a can instead of a plastic container with a lid, meant I had to make a lid, so ours is crocheted in case you are wondering why our can looks like it has a big tea cosy on the top.  A round circle ‘doughnut’ shaped piece of paper would have been easier to correct the problem, but would have lasted for only a few classes.

**You could easily skip making the pond,especially if you are making the game for little kids and just place all the letters face down on the floor. But, the pond adds a bit of a challenge and the kids think its fun.  We play this game with all our other vocabulary words to, like words from the Dolch word list.