Villancico: Doce días de Navidad

I don’t know what it is about this year, but oh boy am I in the Christmas spirit!  Perhaps it’s because this is the first Christmas I’m celebrating in my own home (and not a rental), or because I prepped my house for Christmas (before Thanksgiving!) so I could celebrate two holidays with my mother while she was here visiting from Michigan.  Who knows?

This jolly spirit has translated into my classroom and I couldn’t wait to begin doing Christmas vocabulary and songs in my classroom. I think it’s important to be able to talk about what we think Christmas is as Americans, and then we will move on to study what it’s like in some Spanish speaking countries.  In addition, we will prepare at least one song similar to one they know before moving on to songs that are more likely in a Spanish speaking country.

Villancico: Doce días de Navidad | Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

Villancico: Doce días de Navidad | Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

The song (closest to an English equivalent) for them this week is: Doce días de Navidad.  You can find my favorite version by NyF Ecuador on Youtube by clicking here and here is the handout we use to practice. I liked the accompanying music with it and I like the line me regaló (s/he gifted me) because we learn regalo (gift) during this week, too, and it’s an easy line for students to pick up.  We practice this one song all week long so that they’re really good.  To keep it fresh, here’s what I do with it each day to keep it different:

  • Day 1: Introduce song by playing video and pausing after each part to sing it slowly with the kids.  We added gestures with each one and I asked them what they thought the item was based on the image in the video.  We didn’t have the lyrics in front of us.
  • Day 2: Students received the handout and we listened to it twice, filling in the blanks.  We then sang it without the music
  • Day 3: We sang it once together, all together, and with gestures.  We then sang it a second time and boys sang all the evens and girls had all the odds.
  • Day 4: We will have the left side of the room sing and dance the even parts and the other side will do the odds.
  • Day 5: We will all sing and dance it one time through, add in one person to hold an image of each object as we say it (our listeners won’t understand Spanish), and practice making a tree formation at the end.

One activity I would like to do in the future is have them rewrite the song with objects they know from what I’ve taught them – adornos (ornaments), calcetines (stockings/socks), etc.  so that we’re using more of the vocabulary I’ve given them.  I mean how many times will they need to know carnations in Spanish?

Practicing this song this week has reminded me just how much classroom community we have this year.  The first day I teased the boys who weren’t making very good tree gestures by having them stand up as a group (without the girls, who were sitting down) and practice singing with gestures.  A girl student was in charge of monitoring each boy and could allow them to sit down once they had the tree and another move down.  Reflecting on this as I drove home, I realized how quickly this could have backfired on me, but my students were so comfortable with one another that it was OK.  This could have really backfired.  What if they said no?  What if they got mad at me because they were afraid?  It’s scary to have everyone watching you!  I was reminded again today how much these darling babies feel comfortable, as I watched them singing.  I watched two kids who say that they’re not good at Spanish (even though I always tell them they are!) singing the other gender’s parts in addition to their own, a girl with avid stage fright quietly singing it when she thought no one was listening, and non-choir kids trying to use a genuine singing voice.  All I could do was look around at them and smile and place a hand over my heart when they looked up at me.  I can’t wait to teach them Los peces en el río!

3 thoughts on “Villancico: Doce días de Navidad

  1. Que maravillosa Eres!Thank You! very much for all the time and kindness to share with all of us your ideas and work! Que tengas una bella Navidad!

  2. How touching- I also feel the same way about my students- we are growing closer together as a learning community and they are willing to take risks. 🙂 thanks for sharing. What kind of movements did your students come up with?? Mine are 7th graders.

    • A majority of my kiddos are 9th graders for this… the gestures aren’t too fancy. We made a tree outline for árbol, we smell some fake flowers for claveles, eat our turrones, etc. Perhaps my favorite gesture is the cinco pájaros because we flap our little wings. Kids get into that one a lot!

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