The Little Drummer Boy

– Lynn Hess

After Thanksgiving, our focus in Music class is on Christmas.  We sing fun songs, like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, during which we clap, jump and twirl to a variety of verses; and “Jingle Bells”, when we imagine what it must be like to ride in a one horse open sleigh (and, of course, we play bells).  All of our fun songs evoke smiles, movement and joy.

We continue with “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, combining a mixture of hand motions and sign language.  The most touching part is the last chorus, when I tell the children to use their big (not yelling) voices so others beyond the classroom can hear us.  The result is a beautiful collection of young voices owned by beaming children, who understand that the good news of Jesus’ birth is to be shared.

treeWhenever possible, I incorporate books into Music class.  I invite the children to scoot up close to me on the carpet so they can see the pictures.  In December, we pass out our coffee can drums and read The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats.  Actually, we sing “The Little Drummer Boy”, tapping our drums with every “pa rum pa pum pum”.  The rhythm of the song is amazing.  Even the children in the Infant/Toddler Class can tap to the beat, stopping to listen to the story line.

The story/song is about a boy who is traveling with others see to Baby Jesus.  Everyone is bringing presents, except the boy.  He doesn’t have enough money to buy a gift.  When he sees the baby in the manger, he asks if he can play his drum.  Mary nods and the little boy plays, “pa rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum”.  Then, Jesus smiles.

The story is simple.  A child doesn’t seem to have anything to give until he shares his talent, which results in Jesus smiling.

In class, we talk about how we don’t need money to give gifts.  Instead, we can give by smiling, hugging, singing and saying, “I love you”.  I encourage the children to give gifts from themselves, explaining that those “free” presents are the best gifts of all.

During the Christmas break, I encourage you to help your children understand the value of a true gift.  Spend this time identifying your own gifts and model how you can share them.  Make comments like, “I love to cook, what should we make together today?” or “I love to be outside, let’s go for a walk together”.  Then, adjust your comments to focus on your child’s gifts, “You love to build towers, what can we build together?” or “You love books, what can we read together?”.  Then extend your gift giving beyond your home, such as, “You love to wake up early, let’s go outside and take our neighbors’ newspapers up to their porches” or “You like to sing, let’s call someone and sing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ or ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain’”.

When we identify our own gifts to share, we model an important perspective of giving.  When we help our children identify their own gifts to share, we enable them to recognize that the best presents come from the heart…money isn’t necessary.