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Creativity has such a natural place in the early years that it is almost at risk of being overlooked. It is also one of the characteristics that some philosophers consider unique to humanity. The ability to create has been shown to reduce symptoms of distress in situations and conditions where people feel out of control, including abuse/trauma, anxiety, depression and substance misuse. Arts are now being included in projects known as “social prescriptions”, where doctors prescribe activities instead of medication, from gardening, walking football, to singing.

Childhood can also be seen as a “condition” where we have little control over choices. Children are therefore often easily manipulated into situations because of their size and inexperience. Tantrums and upset can occur as children become more aware of manipulation and try to resist control. Creating opportunities and experiences where children may safely be in control, like imaginative play, can help to empower them. The arts can be useful in creating access, including using child-sized furniture and materials and child-appropriate language.

“Arts” can simply cover painting, dancing and singing. Or it can be extended to drawing, acting and instrumental performance or recording, and even further, into sensory experiences, historical curation and architecture. By exploring different substances, equipment and procedures children can experiment with the different results they can get as a form of problem-solving. This article presents ways to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas creatively, based on singing.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a traditional song with unclear origins. Even the origin of some of the individual lines are contested by history and language experts, but the version below is one of the most common versions used. Often accompanied by actions, here are different arty suggestions to explore each sung verse.

Twelve Days of Christmas

Painting: Simply painting a bird in a tree.

On the first day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

A partridge in a pear tree!

Two turtle doves: Spoken performance.

Memorise and perform this verse for the adult/group.

On the second day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Three French hens: Playdough/clay.

Using playdough or clay to make small hen decorations.

On the third day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Four calling birds: Photography.

Using ipads or similar to capture local birdlife.

On the fourth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Five golden rings!: Sewing.

Sewing rings onto fabric or teaching basic hand-sewing techniques (e.g. tapestry).

On the fifth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Six geese a laying: Collage.

Using different media to cut and paste onto a mosaic pattern.

On the sixth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Six geese a laying

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Seven swans a swimming: Baking.

Using food creatively, either baking swan biscuits or using fruit to make swans (e.g. oranges).

On the seventh day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Seven swans a swimming

Six geese a laying

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three french hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Eight maids a milking: Acting.

Taking turns to act each line for adult or group.

On the eighth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Eight maids a milking

Seven swans a swimming

Six geese a laying

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Nine ladies dancing: Dancing.

Introducing a range of dances from different cultures/genres.

On the ninth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Nine ladies dancing

Eight maids a milking

Seven swans a swimming

Six geese a laying

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Ten lords a leaping: Design outfits/fashion.

Using fabric remnants, play scarves or paper outfits.

On the tenth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Ten lords a leaping

Nine ladies dancing

Eight maids a milking

Seven swans a swimming

Six geese a laying

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Eleven pipers piping: Model making

Using empty boxes and tubs

On the eleventh day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Eleven pipers piping

Ten lords a leaping

Nine ladies dancing

Eight maids a milking

Seven swans a swimming

Six geese a laying

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Twelve drummers drumming: Instrument Play. Using drums or pots/pans/buckets like drums

On the twelfth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Twelve drummers drumming

Eleven pipers piping

Ten lords a leaping

Nine ladies dancing

Eight maids milking

Seven swans a swimming

Six geese a laying

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

And a partridge in a pear tree!

There are so many ways that this song can be used creatively within a wide variety of arts. Each skill or verse could coincide with special visits, either to see the animal or activity, or to local artist residences or artist visits. And with any luck, each event or activity will hopefully make each verse memorable enough to remember the order!

(The complete song is available on You Tube and each day, each verse will be posted on Musicaliti’s new TikTok channel.)

YouTube links - Each video will be released at 10am on each consecutive day in December

About the author:

Musician, researcher and author, Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught guitarist who has played contemporary and community music from the age of 12. She delivers music sessions to the early years and KS1. Trained in the music education techniques of Kodály (specialist singing), Dalcroze (specialist movement) and Orff (specialist percussion instruments), she has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (Open University) and a Master’s degree in Education (University of Cambridge). She runs a local community choir, the Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound Sense initiative aiming for “A choir in every care home” within local care and residential homes, supporting health and wellbeing through her community interest company.

She has represented the early years music community at the House of Commons, advocating for recognition for early years music educators, and her table of progressive music skills for under 7s features in her curriculum books.

Frances is the author of “Learning with Music: Games and Activities for the Early Years“ “Learning with Music: Games and Activities for the Early Years“, published by Routledge, August 2017.

www.musicaliti.co.uk

 

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