Happy Christmas! I’m Aoife Copland, aged 10, and I’d like to help you all get into the spirit of the season with stories, poems and songs from our Carousel Write Clubs. Also, Kathryn Crowley from Carousel Writers’ Café wrote a piece to reflect what being a school principal is really all about…
Ryan and Emily save Christmas
It was Christmas Eve. Emily and Ryan had put up Christmas decorations at home. In the middle of the night Santa came to their room. They were shocked and excited.
“Is that actually Santa?” asked Ryan.
“Yes!” said Emily. “It really is!”
“Would you like to go for a ride on my sleigh?” asked Santa Claus.
“Yes please,” said Emily.
“That’s very kind of you,” said Ryan.
They put on their dressing gowns and some shoes and socks. Santa used his magic to bring them up the chimney and onto the roof.
“Let’s fly now, Rudolph!” shouted Santa.
Up they went into the sky, flying high over towns and big buildings. They passed over the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben. They saw tiny forests and houses way below them and twinkling stars above.
“Look!” said Ryan.
“It’s Disneyland!” said Emily.
“Ho, ho, ho!” said Santa and he sprinkled magic dust on the reindeers to speed their flight.
But something went wrong and Rudolph began to fall from the sky, followed by all the other reindeer and the sleigh.
They crashed down into the snow and Santa Claus’ big sack of presents got lost in the snow.
“We’ll help you to find them,” said Ryan and Emily.
They used their hands to dig all the presents out from under the snow and put them back up onto the sleigh.
“We can still make it if we hurry,” said Santa Claus. You two will have to help me.”
Santa sprinkled magic dust on all the reindeers and whispered something special into Rudolph’s ear.
“Up, up and away…” said Santa and off they flew back into the sky.
So all the children got their presents on time that night and Santa gave Emily and Ryan something extra special for being so helpful.
By Carousel Authors Club (5 to 8 yrs)
(To the tune of ‘This Old Man…’)
Give a cheer.
Santa’ll give us toys this year.
If we give him a cookie and a glass of milk too.
When you wake he’s been to you.
Family dinner, lots to eat.
Thanks for the presents, time to stuff the goose.
For dessert there’s chocolate mousse.
Your Christmas tree.
Thank you Holy Family.
Last Advent day on Christmas Eve.
Happy Christmas Day, Yipee!
By Carousel Scribers Club (8 to 12yrs)
A Primary Christmas
Unless you’ve been a primary teacher in an infant classroom at some stage in your career, you probably won’t really understand the true madness and mayhem of mid-December. Preparing for Christmas at home is easy in comparison to the challenges of working with 30 four and five year olds at this time of the year. While their excitement mounts with each passing day, the increasingly fraught teacher tries to teach the children some sense of the true meaning of Christmas, while ensuring that everyone has a home-made decoration for their Christmas tree at home, that everyone has a letter written to Santa and, of course, that everyone has a part in the Nativity Play.
And there’s the challenge! With up to 30 in a class, how do you assemble a cast for the play in a fair and equitable way? How can you possibly have a part for every child that showcases their many talents, that caters for the reticent and the profoundly shy, that takes account of the child who stammers, that makes allowances for the hyperactive and for the child with the weak bladder? And how do you satisfy the pushy parent who is convinced that their darling should have one of the lead roles?
There can only be one Mary and one Joseph and the three wise men is, unfortunately, a given. I have learned the hard way that it’s difficult to have more than one child carrying the star. There was lots of unseemly pushing and shoving when it was shared. There is some leeway, thankfully, with shepherds. I’ve had Christmas plays with up to seven shepherds waving madly to the angels. They subsequently had to squeeze their way into a very crowded stable to get even a glimpse of the Baby Jesus.
Similarly, the innkeepers can vary in number and gender, depending on how many children are capable of learning the line, “Sorry, we’ve no room tonight. Try next door, they just might.” However, as our school generally recycles the props of the doors from the three little pigs’ houses of straw, wood and bricks, as the front doors of the inns, teachers generally tried to limit it to three innkeepers if at all possible. As a rule, the boys usually object to dressing up as angels, but this role does help to use up at least six of the angelic looking little girls. However, my experience has been that, strangely, the more angelic they look, the less angelic they actually behave on stage!
One of the major dilemmas for infant teachers is to decide whether or not to dress some children up as animals: there is indeed scope for a donkey, a cow, several sheep and even three camels. But, if there is to be any semblance of adherence to the script, the donkey and the camels have to be ridden. This poses severe logistical problems as Mary and the Wise Men would have to be limited to light, agile children who could easily dismount in the event of a malfunctioning animal. The sheep would have to be carried or, at worst, led along on a lead. I recall a year when this lead appeared to tighten on one child as the play progressed and her vigilant mother leapt to her rescue just as the shepherd was about to hand her over as a gift to Joseph and just before she choked. The last time I had an infant class, I opted for sheep of the cuddly variety and a donkey that had miraculously transformed into a toy horse that could be pulled along by a strong and robust Joseph. I knew that Mary was an accomplished Irish dancer who could jump on and off the horse/donkey at will without a major risk of falling.
The narrator’s part can, thankfully, be sub-divided into a number of different parts for each scene of the Nativity story and, with each narrator dressed in a dressing gown and a teatowel on his/her head, they are immensely versatile. They can substitute at short notice for either a shepherd or an innkeeper at any given time. As, invariably, there is either an outbreak of flu or chicken pox or scabies or impetigo or the dreaded head-lice during the week leading up to the Nativity play, it is always wise to have at least some ‘sensible’ children who know the lines of a few characters and who are dressed on the day of the play so that they are interchangeable with any of the spoken parts.
You probably have all heard the story of the little boy who cried because he wanted to be Round John Virgin. But have you heard of the wise teacher who set her Nativity Play in a cave instead of a stable? She needed at least two icicles to illustrate just how freezing cold the cave really was on that first Christmas. The children learned all about the water cycle and how real icicles cannot move or speak. The two children lucky enough to be given the parts of icicles had to stay absolutely still to show that the weather really was cold when the Baby Jesus was born!
By Kathryn Crowley
Principal, St. Louise de Marillac JNS, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10.
Hope that got you into the mood!
Wishing all our writers and readers, young and old a beautiful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
For more information on all our workshops in the new year for adults and children see http://www.carousel-creates.com