Teachers and Parents: This is the first in a series I will be posting especially for you. Over the course of the next few weeks, and in celebration of the release of the board book edition of GOODNIGHT, MANGER, I will be posting several book-linked activities for you to enjoy with your children.
LULLABY TO JESUS:
An Extension Activity for GOODNIGHT, MANGER
When I read GOODNIGHT, MANGER at Christian preschools and churches, I wrap up our story time together by inviting the children to join me in singing a lullaby to Baby Jesus. Step-by-step, here is what I do. Feel free to adjust as you see fit.
REFLECT: First, I take a moment to marvel. I tell the children that this Baby we’ve just read about was like no other baby before or after because he was fully God and fully human. That means he felt everything we do. And like all babies, he must have cried. We briefly chat about when and why babies cry and how we comfort them.
PRETEND: Second, I have the children pretend to cradle Baby Jesus in their arms. I ask them how they should hold him – gently, lovingly, safely. Then we all pretend to coo over the Baby Jesus we are holding with phrases like “Oh, isn’t he precious!”, “Don’t cry, sweet Jesus!”, “We love you.”
REVIEW: Next, I ask them how the characters in the story finally got Baby Jesus to sleep. (It was by joining voices and gently singing a lullaby.) I ask if they’d like to help Baby Jesus fall asleep too. They are always eager to do this.
SING: I introduce the lullaby by singing the first verse of the famous carol “Away in a Manger”. Feel free to use any carol of your choice. “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are also easy to teach/ learn. Before they sing, we review what kinds of voices we should use to sing a baby to sleep – loud or soft? (Soft, of course.) Then we practice singing the opening words of the carol both ways so they can feel and hear the difference.
REJOICE: Then, with joyful hearts we cradle Baby Jesus in our arms and sing our lullaby. Our gentle voices are so sweet that Jesus, of course, falls asleep and so, very carefully, we place him in the imaginary mangers that are right in front of us.
GIVE THANKS: Before closing, I challenge the little ones to remember the sweet gift of Baby Jesus who came to earth – God in the form a human baby – to be the savior of our world. I note that this is why celebrate Christmas. Then together we pray, thanking God for loving us so much that he sent his precious Son, Jesus, to earth in the form of a tiny, humble baby.