The sounds of christmas

With the Christmas season here, it is time to dust off the carol books, get out the Christmas CDs and make some Christmas music with your family. Here are some fun ways to help your children enter into the Christmas spirit.

Children will love making their own musical instruments to play along to the music. These instruments can be made from things that you already have around your house or can be purchased cheaply from craft shops.

bells

Christmas just isn’t the same without bells! These can be purchased either in packets or individually from craft shops. Thread them onto a pipe cleaner, wrapping the ends of the pipe cleaner around themselves to make a loop. These are fun for even tiny tots to play with.

chimes and gongs

Tie a piece of rope between two sturdy objects. You could tie or thread on this rope items such as kitchen utensils, lightweight pots and pans, keys, actual instruments such as triangles, tambourines, or anything that would sound good when tapped with a wooden or metal spoon.

ribbon sticks/scarves

Younger children will enjoy waving scarves around to the Christmas songs. Find scarves that are in Christmas colours, such as green and red. These can be purchased cheaply from op shops. Alternately, purchase some Christmas ribbon and make some ribbon sticks. You will need 2 metres of Christmas ribbon, a piece of dowel about 20cm in length, a fishing swivel and a screw. Fold 10cm of the ribbon over at the top and at the fold, fold the two edges in to make a triangular shape. Sew along the edge of the material that is folded over, then with a few stitches attach the ribbon onto a loop of the fishing swivel. Put a screw through the loop at the other end of the fishing swivel and screw into the dowel. These ribbons make a great Christmas present to give to a friend.

drums

Drums can be made easily by obtaining from disused large cardboard cylinders and discarded lino samples from flooring stores. Cut the cardboard cylinder down to a manageable size and paint. Children will have just as much fun painting it as you will. Cut the lino to fit onto the top of the cardboard cylinder and staplegun the edges down.

shakers

Shakers can be created by filling cardboard cylinders with dried pasta or rice, making cardboard stoppers to cover the hole at both ends and securing with duct tape.

tambourines

Simple tambourines can be made from paper plates by stapling the edge of the plates together with the underside of the plate facing outwards. Before adding the last few staples use a funnel to tip some rice or dried pasta into the centre. To decorate, paint the plates and staple on some coloured crepe paper streamers.

Older children can make more advanced tambourines by using the outside rim of a cake tin. Cover the outside with vaseline and then papier-mâché around this to make a reasonably thick layer. Leave to dry. Once dry, separate the papier-mâché layer from the tin. The vaseline will help to make this easier. Form a hole (2cm x 4cm) in the centre of the papier-mâché at various points around the ring. Thread washers onto toothpicks and sellotape the toothpicks above and below the hole, so the centre of the toothpick that has the washers on it is visible through the hole. Papier-mâché over where the toothpicks were attached. Once dry, paint and decorate.

harp

Stretch rubber bands of different sizes and thicknesses over the hole in a tissue box. These can be strummed or plucked.

cymbals/clappers

Two pot lids banged together make great cymbals. Older children will enjoy making clappers using wooden paint stirrers. Once the glue is dry, paint the clappers and decorate.

musical comb organ

Fold a piece of paper over the teeth of a comb. Press your lips together over the folded edge of the paper and blow – see if you can hum along to your favourite Christmas tune.

more musical fun

Going away over the holidays? To make a long car trip more enjoyable for everyone, take along some favourite Christmas CDs that everyone can sing along to. If you haven’t any at home, check out your local library as they will often have a selection that you can borrow, or network with family and friends to see if you can arrange to swap ones you already have for others that your children might equally enjoy.

Summer with daylight savings is often a difficult time to get children to bed as it is, let alone all the added excitement of Christmas. If you are finding getting your children to sleep has become a mission, try playing a CD of soothing, gentle music to listen to in their bedroom (not Jingle Bell Rock!).

What better thing to do at this time of the year but spread some Christmas cheer with a neighbourhood concert? Choose an evening where you can get as many members of the neighbourhood together as possible. Families can bring a plate of food, some drink and contribute an item to the concert – whether it be a talented family of singers, playing a musical instrument, or little dancers who really know how to put the moves together with the right piece of Christmas music. A Christmas concert is just the ticket to getting to know your neighbours better, enjoying their company and putting a little Christmas spirit in everyone’s hearts. You may even be able to show off those homemade instruments you made!

Last but not least, get along to some of the great Christmas concerts and Carols by Candlelight events happening in your community. Such events are bound to add to the special memories your children will look back on in years to come.

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