Celebrating  Winter Holidays Experiences & Videos

We adapted the lyrics of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to include all of the major Winter Holidays (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve) and included the American Sign Language vocabulary sign for each holiday!

Anna used to work a Special Needs Preschool where they celebrated the Lunar New Year, so together we wrote this song experience two years ago and we wanted to share it to be used in more classrooms and homes for this year. We intentionally left the lyric "As we welcome in the year of the..." blank to allow students and adults to change the Chinese Animal Zodiac for each year they watch this video. In 2021 when we published this video, it was the year of the Ox. The repeated chorus is great for movement and vocal engagement with various associated sounds for the Chinese Parades that occur during the Lunar New Year. We focus on the common phrase "Gong Hei Fat Choy" throughout the song experience to encourage vocal interaction and engagement with students and clients.

"Great Big Holiday" is an original tune which focuses on four principal Winter season holidays in chronological order; Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve. We wanted to write an inclusive holiday experience where all kiddos could be validated by at least one holiday discussed in this experience. This also creates an opportunity to discuss and educate other kiddos about holidays they might not celebrate. This particular music resource is centered around a tradition shared by all four holidays: food! We encourage vocal engagement during the call and response section after each holiday verse with the traditional foods used to celebrate each holiday. In the video we also include images of each food to further encourage the kiddos' recognition and to hopefully start another conversation about familiar looking food (i.e. a child might have had potato pancakes before but perhaps not know that making/enjoying latkes is a beloved Hanukkah tradition). Connection and community are the main themes of this experience.

“I am a Latke,” by Debbie Friedman, is a fun and funky tune about the beloved Jewish potato pancake that also explores other traditional Jewish foods associated with holidays/days of observance. The song also delivers a message of appreciation and charity.
 
One of the biggest goals of the BenAnna Band is to celebrate the beauty of culture and community, whether it be your own culture, that of your friends or family, or something unfamiliar to your own experience. We all have rituals, traditions, and times of gathering that help to illustrate our interconnectedness and love for one another. These foods, songs, stories, prayers, and other customs bring our collective humanity to light, and especially at this time of year, as the weather gets colder and the days grow shorter, it is incredibly important to remind ourselves of the experiences we can share, the memories we create during our holidays. 

This is our funky and fun cover of Vulfpeck's "Christmas in LA"

 

We invite all of our friends at home to read/sing along with the lyrics provided, and more importantly to move, groove, and perhaps even join in on the fun with household percussion (i.e. pots/pans/pencils/macaroni in a sealed cup/anything you can think of) or with an air instrument—just imagine playing any of the instruments you hear!

 

While most of our videos incorporate more emphasis on interactive musical experience, we thought it important to ring in Christmas Day with some cheer, and in doing so we wanted to allow this video to be a more freely formed experience, so as such feel free to listen/sing/dance/play along to this song in whatever manner the music moves you.

This video focuses on the cognitive concept of counting to 7 via the 7 candles on the Kinara which represent the 7 days and principles of Kwanzaa.  This is a free experience to allow students to practice their receptive listening skills, counting, recognizing colors, independently moving their body or playing an instrument to the experience to further increase self expression.  One of our core values as the BenAnna Band is the inclusion and validation of all kiddos that come to make music, and in this video, in addition to working toward cognitive, motor, and expressive goals, we're working with the kids viewing the video to either honor an important and beautiful holiday within their own culture or to learn a little bit about a holiday that is celebrated by their neighbors. Again, one of our biggest tenets is the importance of coming together not only through music-making, but also through cultural appreciation, recognizing and honoring the important traditions, celebrations, and values of everyone within the music circle.

"Out in the Snow" is an adapted, winterized take on "Down by the Bay," focusing on different holidays celebrated throughout the end of the calendar year (i.e. Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa) with the use of silly rhymes that highlight different holiday/seasonal concepts (i.e. latkes and the Menorah to spotlight Hanukkah, Santa and Rudolph to signify Christmas, and a focus on harvest and the Kinara for Kwanzaa). As repetition is key for shared music-making as well for continued language development, we sing the refrain of this song twice to establish the structure and melody, then focus the rest of these refrains on call-and-response to encourage everyone to sing along!

This musical resource focuses on Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that typically happens in the month of December. We focus on some sight words such as Hanukkah, Menorah and Hanukkiah as well as the difference between 9 candles on the Menorah verse 8 nights of Hanukkah. In the experience, "Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah" we adapt the tempo to allow moments of regulation during this high energy song. We also include two moments of counting to reinforce the concepts taught in the beginning of the video as well as working on cognitive, fine motor, attention and focus and moments for self regulation. Even though we don't celebrate this holiday, it's our responsibility to validate and highlight our music friends that do!

Auld Lang Syne is one of Ben's favorite holiday songs.  We did this video just as a musical acknowledgement of the new year.  Feel free to encourage your students to grab an instrument and play along with us!