Thursday, November 5, 2009


I've missed them. I know I was getting all frustrated with them just before mid-term break, but we're back now and it's all good. We're gearing up for Winter festivities (yes, I know Halloween was just a few days ago- but in my mind it is Christmas all the time.) The nursery tykes have some winter themed songs to sing and the Reception tykes are putting on a whole nativity play!

Apparently that is a done thing in this country- schools do Nativity plays. The one that we're doing is called "Whoops-A-Daisy Angel" and is by Nikki Davies. It's got cute songs that don't seem like they'll get *too* annoying by mid-December and it has a cute little plot:

Whoops-a-Daisy Angel is always rushing around and making mistakes- so she never gets any of the good jobs- like dusting moonbeams. Instead she has to count snowflakes...Then one day she gets an exciting job! She gets to tell the shepherds on a hill that Jesus is born. So finally she gets something right.


I cut both the songs that mention "Jesus" or "Christ the Lord" and now the only time he is referred to as anything other than a baby is in French. It still weirds me out that we're doing a nativity play but this is just about as secular as I can make it. So that feels more comfortable to me. For next year I kind of want to write my own...we'll see how that goes.

I'm excited about how I've decided to hand out parts and do the staging and whatnot. There are three reception classes so each of them get to be a part as a unit. That means one class is the Perfect Angels, one class is the Snowflakes, and one class is the Whoops-a-Daisy AngelS. (I've pluralized everything.) That way each class can make their own costumes as a group and they all sing together.

There are two songs that the whole year group sings and then each class gets their character's song as well. For the set we'll have three benches- one for each class- so they'll all be sat as a group and when it is their turn to sing or speak they just stand up where they are. None of this funny business with walking across the stage or anything like that.

The costumes will be white clothes (they've all got white turtlenecks for their school uniforms anyway) and then various headdresses: perfect halos, crooked halos, and some sort of snow flake headdress. Not entirely sure what to do about wings for the angels, but some of the reception teachers are trying to figure out what to do with that. The reason we're trying to keep away from having the parents really getting involved with the costumes is the concern that they will get overly competitive and each try to outdo the others. Not so good for uniformity in costumes...

In any case we are all kinds of on top of this project and I'm getting pretty excited about it. I also have the songs running through my head constantly. So the reception years are totally sorted.

Nursery years are a bit harder to sort out for this winter extravaganza. I should probably just go with a bunch of traditional Christmas songs since they are three years old and have never sung them before- but I have to sing them over and over again as well so I want to make sure that they are still fun for me as well. There is one about snowflakes that I found that I'm excited about. And one that we learned this week about the cold wind whistling around various body parts --but that one only changes one word per verse which is more repetitive than I am really willing to deal with.

It is a fine line to balance with kids songs- being repetitive enough that they can learn it and understand the pattern and being different enough so that it is not obnoxious. For the wind whistling song I am thinking of writing a short B section so that it changes just a little at some point.

Enough with the Christmas show- we also started using instruments! And oh. It went so very well. We have a rhyme this year "if you play before I say, then I will take it away" and I was ruthless-- which worked WONDERS. They treated it as a game and sat quietly and payed attention and it was awesome. We even had a little "explore your instruments" time where I told them to figure out other ways of playing and then looked around the circle and did my best to congratulate each child on something creative they were doing. My favorite was from one of the nursery classes where a little girl was putting her egg shaker on top of her bent knees and then pulling them apart so that the egg shaker fell on to the carpet. It was really fun to do and not something I ever would have thought of. The kid who kept hitting his head with the claves though? I said "what a great idea, doesn't it hurt though?"

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