Saturday, December 12, 2015

Holiday Dance Party

Yesterday was my Holiday Dance Party. I love music and dance programs of any kind, but, in the planning stage, the holiday version of my Toddler Dance Party, wound up being a little bit of a challenge for me. I wanted to incorporate a few Christmas songs, at least one Hanukkah song, plus a few of my usual favorites. But they had to be dancey! And finding perfect, dancey, not too long, kid-friendly versions of holiday songs is actually super-hard. I modified and modified until it was time for the program and I was forced to stop. Here is the playlist I wound up with (red = ipod, blue = sing):

1. Hello Song by Big Jeff
2. Jumping and Counting by Jim Gill
3. Once There Was a Snowman from the Youtube video below (drums) *
4. The Tempo Marches On by Jim Gill (drums)
5. Jingle Bell Rock from the Glee cast (bells) **
6. Frosty the Snowman from Music Factory Music (bells)
7. Rocketship Run by Laurie Berkner (rockets)
8. Oh, Hanukkah from the Glee cast (circle dance) ***
9. Twinkle, Twinkle
10. Snowflake, Snowflake ****
11. I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner (shakers + chicken puppet)
12. It’s a Marshmallow World by Darlene Love (shakers)
13. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Barbie in the Nutcracker (ribbon dancers) #
14. Slow and Fast by Hap Palmer (parachute)
15. Hot Poppin’ Popcorn by The Wiggles (parachute + balloons) ##
16. The Balloon Game by Music for Little People Choir (balloons) ###
17. Blow A Kiss by Laurie Berkner

* I am lucky that I figured out how to play Youtube videos through the our iPod dock. This version of Once there Was a Snowman was perfect for playing the drums. I played the song twice and each time I had the group lift up their drums for "tall, tall, tall" and then bend down low like a melting snowman for "small, small, small." Easy enough! Here's what "tall, tall, tall" looked like:

** Jingle Bell Rock was a hit and the Glee version was THE perfect arrangement. Here's a cute video of the kids enjoying it:


*** As a celebrator of both Christmas and Hanukkah, I find Hanukkah music repeatedly disappointing. It's just so boring, sad, and dreary compared to Christmas music. I was just about to leave it out entirely (I couldn't stand the thought of pretending to like the song Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel), but then I decided to TAKE BACK THE HANUKKAH MUSIC. I wanted to make Hanukkah music fun--like a big, Jewish party, sans wine. And SO, I decided to teach the kids the Hora and dance to the perfectly exciting Glee version of Oh, Hanukka. First I taught them the basic steps (in short: step, step, step, kick, kick) and made them all do it a few times for practice. Once they appeared to have the steps down, I had them get in a circle, hold hands, and get ready to dance the Hora! I pressed play and, while it wasn't as perfectly choreographed as it would have been with a room full Jewish adults, it was so much fun! We, as a group, were messy. But every person in the room was smiling and laughing and that, I guess, trumps being a good dancer. Here we are:

**** Snowflake, Snowflake was written by Dana of Jbrary! It's simple and to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle. It (with classic Twinkle, Twinkle preceding it) was perfect for calming the group down after wild Rocketship Run and then dancing the Hora. Here's how the song goes:

# Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy was, unfortunately, one of those weird, low iPod songs that you can't actually hear too well unless the group quiets down (and you don't actually know is weird and low until you try to play it loud enough to project over a crowd of noisy preschoolers and you just can't seem to get it loud enough). This was a bit of a glitch, yes. In a way, it was kind of good because everyone was forced to be a little quieter, but mostly it was annoying because Holiday Dance Party wasn't designed to be a quiet program. But big thanks to ribbon dancers! Because of them, I didn't even need music! The kids just liked twirling these things around. The room could have probably been completely silent and they would have still enjoyed the ribbon dancers! Also, I'd explained to them that this song is from a ballet called the Nutcracker and that, in ballet, the dancers all dance on their tip-toes. I told them that for this song, we all had to dance on our tip-toes, but even I gave that up about halfway through the song. Here's us (that's me up front):

## Even though we didn't do any holiday music with the it, the parachute was, as usual, a highlight of yesterday's program. The Wiggles' Hot Poppin' Popcorn is a good parachute song that I don't get to use too often because it requires something that's a good middle-of-the-parachute bouncer. And the best middle-of-the-parachute bouncer ever is balloons--which I just don't have the time to blow up for weekly programs. So balloons are a treat and thus, this fun song is also a treat.

### The Balloon Game, like Hot Poppin' Popcorn, is also a treat reserved for dance parties and other special programs. This is a fun song that prompts the kids to bounce balloons off of their heads, knees, noses, and other body parts. However, much like with Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the ribbon dancers, the music doesn't even really matter here. They're just psyched to play with the balloons. Makes no difference to them!

Overall, this was SUPER fun and definitely worth the hassle of trying to find the perfect versions of each song.

What worked least: I was disappointed that Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy wasn't louder because I think it would have been adorable if it had been. I had visions of sugar plums the kids dancing on their tip-toes and waving the ribbon dancers to the music, but it was fun for them regardless. The ribbon dancers MADE this work, especially because they was something special that we ordered for this program (and specifically for this song).

What worked best: The parachute, obviously.

What else worked best: I think Jingle Bell Rock really got everyone up and into the program. Maybe also because it was the first really "rockin'" holiday song that I played but, check out the video above. It was really a fun song!

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