Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Hoopla

It's time for winter holidays!

Every December we do an evening program called Holiday Hoopla! There are songs and stories and activities and it tends to last for about an hour. Some things change and some things don't, but here's how it tends to go down.

Welcome everyone and introduce the children's department (we're all involved).

Everyone sings "Let it Snow!"

Before the program, we've cut up white scrap paper into tiny bits of confetti. Every time we get the chorus and sing "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!" we throw the confetti on the audience.

We read a story about Hanukkah. This year we did The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Nancy Cote. With all the holidays, we try to choose something that doesn't explain the holiday. (So we try to shy away from a book that says "Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday to commemorate the miracle of the oil. They eat latkes and light the menorah and play dreidel.")

Then we play HUMAN DREIDEL. This is my favorite part. (I'm the human dreidel.) My co-worker took a cardboard box and cut a head-hole in the top and covered the box with paper (thing basic robot costume.) She then wrote the Hebrew letters on the side of the box. I put the box on and! voila! instant dreidel. After a brief rundown of the rules, someone spins me round and round (like you would before pinning the tail on the donkey. Sometimes we use an office chair, but when I stand, I can staggar around afterwards for greater comedic effect.) In real dreidel, if it lands on hay, you get half the pot and if it lands on gimmel, you get the whole pot, so if it lands on either of those, I throw candy at the audience. If it lands on nun, you lose a turn so we spin again. If it lands on shin, you're supposed to put candy into the pot, so I demand the kids give me candy and then cave and throw more candy at them.

Then we all sing "The Dreidel Song"

We read a book about winter. This year we read The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel, illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker

Sing a general winter song. This year was "Jingle Bells." We handed out bells to everyone to jingle as we sang.

Read a Christmas story. This year we read Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner

Sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" For this one, we have pictures for each of the days printed out and on each chair. When we get to your day, you have to stand up, so there's a lot of quick standing and sitting, which always leads to general hilarity.

Read a Kwanzaa story. This year we read My First Kwanzaa Book by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate, illustrated by Cal Massey

Sing a Kwanzaa song. This year it was "Kwanzaa Time"

Sing "Let it Snow!" again

Have cider and cookies.

We mix it up a little each year and it's always a lot of fun. Some years we do a King Cake with the refreshments. Sometimes we have red circles cut out that everyone can hold on their noses as we sing "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

So, from us to you, hope you're having a happy holiday season! Are their any winter holiday books left on your shelves? We're running pretty low!


  1. Great ideas, I may steal a bunch of these next year! This year I just did a Saturday afternono craft time - stations set up around the room with instructions posted for making ornaments or simple gifts, plus snacks and a Santa who took lots of time chatting with each child. Around here, it can cost a fortune to get your child's photo with Santa, so i like offering a free option. We do Hanukkah seperately during our regularly scheduled story times, but I like to change things up every year. Thanks for the inspirations! (I'll tell the custodian to call you when he sees all the 'snow' on the ground...)

  2. I love the human dreidel! too funny. the kids must go bananas!