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Let’s go for a Sleigh Ride… This is the unofficial soundtrack to the holidays. This is a classical piece students are familiar with– so use it to your advantage and use it in your elementary music classroom!
I was in choir all through middle and high school (and college and now…). At my high school, the choir and the orchestra did Sleigh Ride in our holiday concert every year. With every single choir member on stage.
And I went to an arts high school, so that was about 150 kids. We were super squished on that stage (with the bright stage lights!), but we did it every year. To this day when people complain about having space on stage I always think, “It’s not Sleigh Ride”.
We also had to start learning it early– we would start on this piece in about September or October.
You know you are a choir kids when you are sweating because it’s so hot outside… learning a song about snow.
Anyway, I love this piece. And I love using it in my classroom.
Below are a few ways that we use it!
Looking for more fun holiday lessons? You can get access to the FREE resource library, which includes heartbeat charts, powerpoints, quizzes, annnnnd a lyric sheet for O Christmas Tree. Plus, you’ll get ideas and resources sent straight to your inbox! Click here to join!
Cup Game for Sleigh Ride
You can play the cup game with Sleigh Ride.
If you don’t know, the cup game is a cup routine that I know because of Pitch Perfect (don’t we all?!).
There are eight beats.
The actions we use are: tap, tap, clap, clap, clap, tap, up, down. Tap, grab, slap, hit, tap, up, down.
Annnnd because that makes no sense, I am going to link a video where you can see it being done. Click here for that.
I usually use this with fourth or fifth grade
Also see: O Christmas Tree
Jingle Bell Form
This is my favorite. I think. I like a lot of them, but I really like this one. I use this with 3rd grade.
The form for Sleigh Ride is:
intro A B A C A B A coda
We use jingle bells for this activity. We sit in a circle, and do the following actions:
- A section: Shake bells to the rhythm
- B section: pass bells to your right on the beat
- C section: Start at the ground and shake bells, get louder as the song gets louder.
Also see: 12 Days of Christmas Lesson
Sock skating is the best!
I once had a first grader doing this activity and he look at me and said, “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!”
It was great.
Anyway, the premise of sock skating is that students take their shoes off, then they keep the steady beat with their feet by “skating” around the classroom. It’s great. Pure joy.
If you have carpet, I’ve heard of people using paper plates, although buy a bunch, because I imagine they would get holes in the bottom after a while.
Note: Some students (especially if you live in south Georgia and it’s 80 degrees in December…) may not have socks. I have a bag of old (clean!) socks that I bring on this day so that students can use them. Then I put them into a different bag to take home so I know which ones need to be washed.
Teach them the Lyrics!
A lot of kids don’t know the lyrics, so teach them! I do this in combination of the other Sleigh Ride activities. It also helps them to learn the form better, because they will know the melody better.
I like to listen to the jazzy versions of the piece for this.
Also read: Christmas Tree Hunt and Charades
Extension: Over the River and Through the Wood
Annnnd one more!
The way my schedule works out, I often end up teaching Thanksgiving and Holiday songs at the same time. So we also teach Over the River and Through the Wood.
I do this with my third graders, and they love it every year (don’t you love when you do something SUPER simple and kids love it?). All we do is read through the book (get it here), and then I teach them how to sing it, and we sing it along with the book.
You can compare and contrast the two pieces so that they get the connection between Over the River and Through the Wood and Sleigh Ride.
I usually do this with 3 grade, and we use the book to learn the words to the song. I’m always surprised by how much they love it!
Do you us Sleigh Ride? What are your favorite sleigh ride activities? Let us know in the comments!