When I got my Friend magazine in December of 2010 and saw the song "Our Christmas Story Tree" I knew I wanted to teach this song the following year and I knew how I wanted to do it. Well, 2011 came and went and there just wasn't any time to fit this song in among the others we were learning. So now, its 2012 and I was determined to make it happen this time—but it almost didn't happen...again...
...I started working on it weeks ago whenever I had a chance (with my busy work schedule I just have to work on things in bits and pieces here and there when I can find time) and had most of it prepared but this past week was sooooooo crazy, and the time I thought I would have Saturday afternoon to finish up between my morning appointments and my husband's company party I didn't get. Alas, other emergencies came up in the afternoon and I just barely made it back in time for my husband's work party and then we didn't get home until after 11:30 p.m. and I still had other things to do first. WHEW! When I got those other things done it was after 1:00 a.m. and I was all tuckered out, so I decided to just go to bed with the thought that I would just pull out some old bell charts and take my bells to Primary instead and somehow figure out a time to squeeze this song in later in the month. I was a bit disappointed when I woke up Sunday morning because I wouldn't be doing the song I had planned and worked on and had been so excited to do. It didn't help that I wasn't feeling it with my back-up plan either. My husband told me I should just go ahead and do it. (He admitted to me later that he was a little excited to learn it after hearing me singing it for the past few weeks while I was learning the song.) He was such a sweetheart and helped be my errand boy and gathered things up for me while I finished up on some other things and frantically got ready for church. Not an easy task to do when you have the 9:00 a.m. block. But, I'm so glad I listened to him. Shhhh! Don't let him know that. He thinks I never listen to him. ;-)
The kids ended up loving the song and through directed listening to discover what ornaments were in the box for the Christmas Story Tree in the song and what they represented, the kids ended up learning a lot. You know, you don't have to have formal discussions that eats up your singing time to explain the gospel messages in songs. I find directed listening questions help them to focus on those messages in the song while they listen to you as well as listening to themselves sing to discover the answers in the song while they are also getting
that repetition in that is so needed for them to learn the song.
Sorry for putting you through my long sob story. Okay, now down to business.
|Our finished Christmas Story Tree|
The presentation of the song is pretty simple since it really lends itself to the song. I used an old wooden Christmas tree I bought a zillion years ago on clearance at a craft store, painted it, stuck Christmas lights on it and screwed small cup hooks in it the first Christmas I was the Primary Music Leader and have used it every year since for various singing activities. You could use a small Christmas tree if you have one. It is nice if you can have something dimensional to hang actual ornaments on. I find real objects are more fun and interesting to the kids. But if you don't have a tree of sorts, you could cut a tree out of poster board or even just draw one on the chalkboard with colored chalk. You'll need ornaments to represent the different parts of the song. You probably have most if not all in your own box of ornaments. Of course, you would probably have to use paper ornaments if you are using a tree poster or the chalkboard unless you have some strong magnets that you can hang actual ornaments on. (Really strong magnets are one of my top favorite things to have as a Primary Music Leader.) You'll also need a box to put all the ornaments in.
So, as mentioned, you'll need:
- Christmas Tree
- Ornaments for the song (list is below)
- Box for putting the ornaments in
- Pointer(s) of some sort (I'll explain later)
- Flip Chart-optional (file link included below)
- There is also a file of just the pictures if you don't want to use the flip chart as well as smaller, ornament sized pictures if you want to do a paper or chalkboard Christmas tree. Those are on the last three pages.
|"It's time to peek inside our box of ornaments to see..."|
(The red box would actually be closed with the heart ornament
inside for the presentation—I just opened it here for the picture.)
I brought out the Christmas tree and explained to the children that this Christmas tree was our Christmas story tree and the ornaments I had in this box (showing the closed box) would help tell a Christmas story. I asked them to listen as I sang the first verse for which ornaments to be placed on our Christmas Story Tree and also what the ornaments represented. After singing the first verse, I let the children give me their answers. I let the ones who answered correctly come up and find the ornament in the box and place it on the tree. I would quickly sing that part of the song as they put up the ornament (a cappella.) This gave another plug for them to hear a specific part of the song while also helping them to remember what the ornament was for because of course, I also wanted them to listen so they could also discover what the ornament meant. Of course, they didn't remember all of the ornaments the first time through, so I sung the verse again and received their answers until we got them all on the tree for that verse.
Then I had them sing the verse with me (JR I did a phrase at a time) as I used my finger pointer to point to the ornaments as we sang about them. For example, I would point to the box for "It's time to peek inside our box of ornaments to see" then I would point to the red ornament for "which ones we'll choose to decorate our Christmas story tree." Then I pointed to the candy cane for "Let's hang a cane of peppermint upon the nearest bough" then to the lamb for "to tell of shepherds watching lambs..." You get the picture. I repeated this process for each verse.
After we got all the ornaments up on our Christmas story tree, I had children come up and use my finger pointers to point to each ornament as we sang the song through. Oh yeah, I did post each verse of the flip chart on the board when they got all the ornaments for that verse on the tree. I usually post on the board the part of the flip chart we are working on and adding as we go. I find that helps the teachers participate more and I have some kids that learn better with words, especially the kids learning to read—they love trying to practice their reading skills on the flip charts, while others use the pictures to help them learn. I repeated the process with each verse.
My original plan was to just work on only one or maybe even two verses because I don't like to spend the whole time on one song since kids can get burned out on singing a song too many times—gotta keep the variety going—but the kids were really enjoying it so I went with the flow, threw aside the other songs I had planned and we spent the whole singing time learning the whole song and singing and pointing over and over and over again, and they enjoyed it.
Here are the ornaments I used in the order they are sung in the song:
- Box for holding the ornaments: "It's time to peek inside our box of ornaments to see"
- Ball Ornament: "Which ones we'll choose to decorate our Christmas story tree"
- Candy Cane: "Let's hang a cane of peppermint upon the nearest bough"
- Picture of a Lamb (I couldn't find my toy lamb figure): "To tell of shepherds watching lambs, as Jesus watches now."
- Angel Ornament: "The angel on the highest branch sill sings the joyful song"
- Dove Ornament: "Of peace on earth, good will to men of pardon for our wrongs."
- Silver Star Ornament: "We'll set a star of silver here among the twinkling lights,"
- Nativity Ornament: "Like one that shone on Bethlehem that sacred, starry night."
- Red Box: "And there beneath the tree we'll place a package wrapped in red"
- Red Heart Ornament (I had this inside the red box for the children to open and pull out): "Reminding of our Lord's great gifts—His love, the blood he shed."
- Christmas Tree Ornament: "Our Christmas tree is ever green; its needles never fall."
- Baby Jesus Ornament: "Our Savior dear was born to bring eternal life to all."
- Framed Picture of Jesus: "Our Savior dear was born to bring eternal life to all."
I also forgot to add the links to the song and sheet music. So here you go.
"Our Christmas Story Tree"
Just scroll down and select the song, right click on the download icon and select the pdf for the sheet music, vocals and music or just the music.
I'm beginning to think that since I haven't had time to put up any Christmas decorations yet, maybe I should just put this tree up in my living room. After all, it is already beautifully decorated by such loving and cute hands. :-D
Our Christmas Story Tree-FC-Nalani
Our Christmas Story Tree-Pics Only-Nalani