A Truly Child-Centred Christmas

The pressure to produce the perfect festive performance for parents can often be overwhelming and leave us feeling less than joyful.  In recent weeks, there have been many posts from already overwhelmed practitioners on social media, trying to adjust to the new framework whilst coping with never-ending staff shortages due to Covid; A Winter Show seems like the last thing everyone needs to add to that stress.

It’s an interesting phenomenon; we strive for a child-centred curriculum all year round until it comes to Christmas. This time, traditionally centred around children, can so easily become all about what will make the parents happy. The pressure to produce a wonderful end-of-term show can mean that we find ourselves reaching for a mass-produced script, desperately trying to get children to say the right lines and the donkey to stand in the right place!

None of us need that stress. But it doesn’t have to be like that. So here are some of our suggestions for a stress-free Christmas celebration that you, your children and your parents will enjoy.

Poetry

The rhythm and rhyme of poetry is learnt so naturally and joyfully by children. So why not learn some festive poems and share them as part of your performance. You can find some on the internet, make up a poem of your own, or you could use the ones we provide in The Christmas Basket. There are fifteen this year, each accompanied by actions. Perhaps small groups of children could learn one poem each, or you could learn several poems as a class. There are plenty to go around

An Arts and Crafts Exhibition

Perhaps you could invite your children to make festive pictures or crafts and set them up as an art exhibition for when parents come to watch your Seasonal Extravaganza. We have five craft activities in The Christmas Basket, but you could also use other ideas and develop your exhibition as a fun way to display your children’s art.

Singing

Sometimes we just want to learn some new songs rather than keep repeating the ones we already know. That is why we commissioned our Creative Associate Cathy Walker, to write and perform five brand new acoustic songs for you to sing along to as a class. The only warning on this is that they are incredibly catchy and will stick in your head!

Story Acting

If you want to act out a story, why not do it Helicopter Stories style. Simply read a winter story, and invite the children to get involved in the acting in the same way you do for the stories they create themselves.

As an option for an unusual Christmas Story, we have included a beautiful example in The Christmas Basket. It’s called The Snow Tree and explores what happens when Little Bear wakes up to find all the colours have disappeared, and the world around him is covered in a blanket of snow.

Alternatively, you could get your children familiar with this story (or any other) and invite them to retell it in their own words. Then, scribe these stories verbatim, and you will have several versions of The Snow Tree unique to your class. All that’s left to do is act these out in front of the parents!
There was snow everywhere. Little bear saw the snow everywhere. Squirrel brought a yellow leaf. The fox brought a rainbow drop. A panda brought him some green leaves. Squirrel gave him some berries. Then it was time to decorate the tree. Everything was colourful.
Ollie, age 5

A Christmas Show with a Difference

A couple of years ago, a practitioner wrote a blog about how she had been liberated from the ‘buy a script and perform it’ format and had instead started using Helicopter Stories as the basis for her Christmas performance.

Having shared the Christmas story with her children over a couple of weeks, she invited them to tell her their version, scribing each one verbatim as they did. Kathryn now had a script made entirely from the children’s own words, which was so popular with parents that they had to hire a separate hall to fit in the grandparents, aunties and uncles that wanted to come along too.

Inviting parents in at Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be poetic, it could be dramatic, it might be messy and loud, but most importantly, let’s make it fun.  

Here’s to a very Merry Christmas from all of us at MakeBelieve Arts and thank you to everyone who has supported our work during these difficult Covid years.

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