Thanksgiving...the unofficial start to the holiday season and my favorite time of year!
As I write this, the wind is howling outside so loudly, whipping the fresh snow up all over the place. Although weather reports predicted only about 1-2 inches, I measured 7 inches about 5 hours ago!
When I was outside shoveling snow earlier today, I was thinking about one of my favorite Thanksgiving songs, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Specifically, the text that came to my mind was “it stings the toes and bites the nose.” I sang this song a lot with my elementary music classes last week, and will have a few more chances this week before Thanksgiving break. I have loved this song since I was young.
When I have used it in my classroom over the last several years, I normally just have students add jingle bells and temple blocks to the beat or the “clip-clop clip-clop” pattern to accompany the song. This year I added a little bit more to my lesson, discussing with my 2nd and 3rd graders the history of this song.
The songs’ lyrics were written by Lydia Marie Child, who was born in Massachusetts in 1802. She first published the poem in 1844, but it was actually titled “The New England Boy’s Song.” Later the melody was added and the name was changed to how we know it today. The novelist wrote this poem, recalling her childhood trips to her grandfather’s house every Thanksgiving Day as a child.
As I told my students about this, they seemed to truly enjoy hearing about all of the background and history. They asked lots of great questions, like “How long did it take her to get to grandfather’s house?” My reply was “not too long,” as I knew she grew up in Medford, Massachusetts, and her grandfather lived in the same town. After discussion, we added some instruments: just rhythm instruments with Kindergarten and 1st grade students, and rhythm and melody instruments with 2nd and 3rd grade students. They loved it, and although some classes seemed to sound much better than others (it always happens), I was pleased.
When I first started planning for this Thanksgiving lesson, I got busy early on, creating a presentation to supplement the lesson and to show students pictures of the author, birthplace, etc. You can check it out here.
I love this song so much that I even added a simple dance routine. My after-school Folk Dancing Club enjoyed it as well! If you’re interested, here it is:
Thanks so much for reading this, and I hope that it can help you in some way in your classroom! Happy Thanksgiving!