3 times language lessons at Christmas for your kids in a festive way. Time flies, and Christmas is closer than you might think. A wonderful time to enjoy ourselves together. Are you also looking forward to doing Christmas games with your kids and singing Dutch Christmas songs?
At Dutch for Children, we can’t wait. It’s a distinct time to engage with the Dutch language festively.
Before I give away three fun and educational tips, a word about Christmas spelling and all the related words. Always handy to brush up on, especially when your child is already reading and writing.
Christmas and language
How do you write Christmas in Dutch? With a capital letter or a lowercase letter?
According to official spelling, you write Christmas (kerst), Christmas Day (eerste kersdag), and Boxing Day (tweede kersdag) with lowercase letters, and only Christmas (Kerstmis) is capitalized.
A brief explanation: Holidays are written with a capital letter. If it is not a holiday, then you write it with a lowercase letter.
In official spelling, only Christmas meets the criteria for “official holiday. Therefore, Christmas, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas party, Christmas morning, and Christmas morning are officially always given lowercase: kerst, eerste kerstdag, tweede kerstdag, kerstavond, kerstfeest, kerstochtend and kerstmorgen.
What about the wish: Fine or Merry Christmas (Fijne of Prettige feestdagen) The wish fine or merry Christmas (fijne of prettige kerstdagen) should also officially be written in lowercase letters. But, it is not wrong to write “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” on a Christmas card, for example. Just look at all the pre-printed cards.
Three free Christmas lessons
3 free Christmas lessons to enjoy this time. The first is a writing lesson. You will write a Christmas card together with your child or student. The second is a singing lesson: learning to sing Christmas songs. Singing together is fun and very good for the Dutch language. And the third is a lesson with books and stories. Because what would Christmas be, without a Christmas story?
Our lessons at Dutch for Children are always customized. As a parent or teacher, you can do this well, too: look at the interests, motivation, and level of your child or student and adjust the lesson accordingly.
1. Christmas writing lesson: write a Dutch Christmas card
The tradition of writing Christmas cards dates back to very early times. You might want to use this story as a fun starter for this activity.
The Christmas greeting comes from the Middle Ages. Around Christmas in Europe, the poor offered various carvings, with religious Christmas decorations and drawings, to their bosses. This is the first form.
The real Christmas card came from the 19th century when an English artist wrote a card with the words “Merry Christmas. This was adopted years later by German printers, and the Christmas card was born. The Amsterdam bookseller Koster was the first to sell Christmas cards in the Netherlands; in 1873.
Schooltv has a very nice video for children ages 5-8 about the Christmas card and mail.
Tell your child about the people you want to send a Christmas card to and why? This could include themes such as family, friends, missing people, loneliness, other countries, etc. If you and your child like it, you can turn it into a word field. You grab a lot of paper (or make it on the computer), write Christmas (card) in the middle, and gather all the words or phrases you collect around it. Kids really enjoy doing this!
The core of the Christmas lesson: the Christmas card message
Then you begin writing the Christmas card. You can help your child by discussing or briefly putting down the following format on scrap paper:
The salutation is the first sentence of your card. In the first sentence, you greet the person you send the card. A comma always follows the salutation. For example, Dear Ellen, Dear Loes, etc.
The message follows immediately after the salutation. In the message, you write your message to the recipient of your card. The message can consist of several parts.
In the message, you write what you would like to say. For example, you can begin your message with: I am sending you or you/you a card because …
During the vacation, I am going to …
You might get a card back if you ask questions in your message.
For example: Is it also so cold at your place….? Is the Christmas tree up yet?
The message on a Christmas card usually ends with a Christmas wish. For example:
I wish you/you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a happy Christmas. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
The closing is the last sentence of your card. In the last sentence, you say hello to the person you send the card to. For example, Lots of love from … Greetings from … Big hug from …Merry Christmas greetings from ….
The real closure: sending the Christmas card
Time and rate
You and your child can find out online about shipping from the country where you currently live. Viewing tables, calendars, and dates, and calculating rates are almost lessons in themselves.
From abroad, of course, you can also make maps online like described above. While completing the lesson, you look at shipping options through the respective website.
Well-known websites for online Christmas cards are Greetz and Hallmark.
Address: Write the address of the person on the card or envelope to whom you send the card.
Stamp: Find out how much it costs to send your card. Especially if it is from abroad. If you ship online, then this is often included in the price.
Time: Send your cards on time. Always check the shipping time and take that well around Christmas.
And finally, you can read Christmas wishes in other languages for all children around the world with your child.
2. Christmas songs children
Teaching children Christmas songs is not only incredibly fun but also very useful for their Dutch language. My experience from a few years back with toddlers is that they are enthusiastic and try to sing along from the beginning.
If you have gestures to go with it and a video, it’s ready in no time. The best thing about this, I think, is that as a mother, father or teacher, you don’t have to be good at singing yourself. Children care that you participate.
You can start by telling the story behind the song or more about an aspect or theme of the song. You can also find a coloring page or lyrics to go with this.
Then the singing will start right away. How to teach songs to children, some experts tell you below.
You can alternate between different teaching methods to keep students’ attention and motivation while learning a song. It is desirable that you use different methods that complement and reinforce each other.
Always teach the songs without a sheet. The students then learn to listen better, and attention is greater, and there are no children to hide behind the leaves. Also, without lyrics, they learn the song by heart faster!
From Orchestra in the Classroom
Singing begins with listening
According to Gehrels Music Education: Try to play the song in its entirety as often as possible before allowing the children to join in. This makes them rehearse the melody and words without mistakes.
To understand the song and keep the focus on the song, you can ask a new listening question each time you sing the song, such as:
- How many times is the word … sung?
- How many phrases does the song consist of?
- What is the mood/emotion of the song?
- Where do you think the song comes from?
- What language is it?
- What is the song about?
- You can also give listening assignments, such as:
- Stand up when you hear the word …; Clap your hands after the word …
With movement games or dance
Moving to music is only natural for many children. Especially the younger children. They love to move. Play songs are children’s songs with an accompanying movement game or dance. Not only is it fun to do, but children also get a sense of beat, rhythm, and form. Consider the song “Head, Shoulder, Knee and Toe.
Singing is fun!
Last but not least, singing is just plain fun! Children enjoy singing. Singing together also gives an extra special feeling and it is a creative way to engage with the language. So do, above all, what feels good and is fun together.
Websites with Christmas songs for children
On mamaliefde.nl there is a very nice top 25 Christmas songs, especially for children, as well as toddlers, and preschoolers. Complete with YouTube playlist so you can stream it during Christmas dinner.
There are many Christmas songs on YouTUbe with lyrics. Search for “Christmas songs with lyrics” or “Christmas songs kids with lyrics. Here is an older collection with several songs and old-fashioned lyrics.
Mini-disco has also collected Christmas songs. They have all kinds of cartoons of Dutch Christmas songs in a row.
3. Christmas stories children
Telling or reading Christmas stories to children is great. It is my favorite language activity around and during Christmas. As a mom and as a teacher.
We know that telling and reading aloud has many positive effects on children’s development. Both emotionally, cognitively, and socially. Reading aloud helps improve a child’s language and reading skills. The earlier and more regularly children are read to, the greater the benefits.
A few tips beforehand:
- choose a book or story together; if children cannot choose, tell briefly what each story/book is about.
- in the case of a book: look at the cover and title and fantasize together about what the book is about.
- in the case of a story: talk together about the title and what it might be about.
- Tell or read aloud, but do this mostly interactively. Involve your child in the story.
- Ask listening questions during the story (you can prepare these in advance).
- use your voice for intonation and different roles and to make it extra exciting, sad or funny.
Core: the reading or telling itself.
A selection of online Christmas stories and Christmas books
- 12 wonderful Christmas stories for children
- an overview of Christmas stories
- the best Christmas stories for toddlers and preschoolers
- even more great Christmas books for kids
It’s a waste if you close the book or story after the book. There is much more to experience. After the story, you can experience it even more together by asking the right questions (which you prepared in advance), reenacting part of the story, talking about what your child would have done if he…was from the story, and more.
You can also draw, color, or make crafts responding to the story. In the Christmas theme, you can also do a story each week during the Christmas season, for example. And, in response to that, hang a Christmas ball or light a light each time.
That way, you also build up to Christmas slowly. Something I’ve always found through Advent to be a beautiful ritual, even if you don’t believe God in this way.
More tips on reading aloud
If you are still looking for more tips on good and exciting reading aloud, even to older children, click on this link.
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