Well, we’ve taken down the Thanksgiving decorations and put up the Christmas ones. And along with the Christmas decorations come the Christmas resources that we’ve used in previous years. Want a quick peek?

  1. The Christmas Story from Luke 2 (and ideas for narrating it)

    When the kids were very young we read the Christmas story and let them act it out with a cheap (non-fragile) nativity set. When they were older they put on plays of portions of the Christmas story using stufties. “Stuffed Animal Theater” eventually turned into a video project one year.

  2. Silent Night: The Song and Its Story by Margaret Hodges

    A great living story to read and to motivate the whole family in learning all the stanzas to this Christmas carol — maybe even in parts.

  3. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

    This classic short story makes a great family read-aloud one evening in December, complete with popcorn and hot chocolate, of course.

  4. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

    We like to reserve this story for the older children. And sometimes we compare the movie versions to it.

  5. Messiah by Handel

    By all means listen to it, and be sure to show your children how the movement of the melody notes illustrates the words. For example, listen to the song Every Valley and notice how the notes move back and forth on the lyric “crooked” and then stay on a single pitch for the word “straight.” You’ll find lots of great correlations like that throughout this wonderful oratorio. Attend a live performance if you can!

The SCM Forum has some great Christmas idea discussions too. Take a look, join in, or start a new thread with your own question or comment.

Christmas Ideas

Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas Artist/Picture Study Ideas

One comment

  1. Some of you have asked where you can find more information on how the melody notes of Messiah illustrate the lyrics. I’ve never seen it written down anywhere. We’ve just had fun discovering correlations as we listen. To help you get started, here is a list of some of our findings. Feel free to add other findings as you notice them. It’s lots of fun!

    Every Valley Shall Be Exalted

    • “Exalted”: Each time the pattern of notes is repeated, it begins on a higher pitch.
    • “And every mountain” climbs up the mountain and drops down the other side at a full octave to show how high the mountain is compared to the “hill” that has a gentle rise and fall.
    • “Crooked” is represented by notes that move either back and forth or in unusual intervals.
    • “Straight” contrasts with “crooked” by staying on the same pitch.

    Thus Saith the Lord
    The bass’s voice sounds like it’s shaking when he sings the word “shake.”

    The People That Walked in Darkness
    With all the accidentals written into the phrase “the people that walked in darkness,” it sounds like someone stumbling around, especially compared to the triumphant, certain sound of “have seen a great light.”

    Glory to God
    I love the way the music gets softer and softer at the end of this song, with rests between the notes. It sounds like the angels are — one-by-one or few-by-few –disappearing back into the sky after their announcement.

    Behold the Lamb of God
    The whole feel of this song (in the Largo tempo) seems to carry the weight of the sins of the world.

    All We Like Sheep

    • For the word “turned,” Handel threw in an interesting turn in the pattern he used. It’s hard to describe on paper, but I’ll try. Each pattern for “turned” includes six sets of 16th notes. The first, second, and third set start at a high pitch, come down, and return to the high pitch. But the fourth set turns that pattern around and starts at a low pitch, goes up, and returns to the low pitch. Set five turns it back to the high-pitch pattern, and set six turns once more to the low-pitch pattern. So amid the turning notes, you also have turning patterns!
    • “Astray” wanders across the keyboard.
    • The Adagio part at the end once again emphasizes the gravity of Jesus’ bearing the weight of our rebellious turning and wandering.

    The Trumpet Shall Sound

    • Now, I’m not a brass section expert, but I believe the opening notes of the solo are the intervals that a bugle can play.
    • Handel changed every pattern he gave to the word “changed”; no two patterns are exactly alike in timing or pitch.

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