Enjoy Bell Horses and Sleigh Rides Indoors with Children

Giddy up, Jingle Horse !!!   Let’s GO Daddy !!!  (Jingle, Jingle, Jingle)   Whoa!!!  Watch out, sleigh rides can be bumpy!   Mommy, HELP.  Daddy’s getting carried away !  (Giggle, Giggle, Giggle)

While singing or listening to some classic fun songs about jingle bell horses and their fun sleigh rides, explore some fun easy ways to make this mode of transportation come alive for your child.

Riding in a sliding sleigh drawn by a horse adorned with bells was the primary method of transportation for families in the winter time for many, many years, and it was a loooooooong ride.   To keep the spirits up and the hearts warm in the cold weather, families would SING, tell stories of previous mishaps along the way, and LAUGH !

“Over the River and Through the Woods”  is a Thanksgiving classic.  My FAVORITE book featuring this song is a Scholastic book by the same name, illustrated by John Steven Gurney. (It also comes with a recording of the song.)  After reading/singing it through once, we always go back through and talk about all the fun winter activities that are going on in the beautifully illustrated winter scenes.   Since we live in Florida, it helps to have a good reference into this mysterious world.

“Jingle Bells” is simply a song about the same activity – sleigh rides with jingle horses.  It was originally written for a Thanksgiving program, but was so popular, it was revisited at Christmas and instantly became a favorite classic.  The second verse combines story telling, as it relates a couple who went for a sleigh ride and “got upsot”.  This is a great time to discuss with your child what it would be like to have a sleigh turn on it side , and how sometimes words can be adapted to rhyme in a song.

“Bell Horses”, a popular nursery rhyme about a century ago, may or may not be familiar within your family ranks.  We sing it in Kindermusik classes with our bells.  When the rhyme says “Time to go away”, we hide our bells behind our back.  We start jingling them quietly behind us, then gradually louder as we bring them to the front, experiencing, and practicing our crescendos !

  • Bell Horses, Bell Horses,  What’s the time of day?
  • One o’clock, Two o’clock.  Time to go away.

These are some fun ideas for indoor explorations of bell horse and sleigh rides I’ve introduced in my Kindermusik classes.  To visit a class, and join in the fun, check out the days and times on my 2013-14 Kindermusik Session Page, and days on my calendar, then Request a Free Preview Class – see button to the right.

Sleigh ride fun while singing these song:

  • For babies, use fingers to trot around on your child or on the floor while making a jingling sound, or hold a big jingle bell.  Move at the right pace to let them follow along with their eyes.
  • Place the child on your lap, and keep a steady beat bounce.  At the end of the song, make lots of fun HORSE sounds.  Let them hold some jingle bells while bouncing.  (Make sure the bells are safe for the child -  typical jingle bells may cut child’s tongue if mouthed).

  • Use a blanket or towel and pull your child around  -  let them play with some baby-safe jingle bells.  Enjoy making horse sounds.
  • Have the child use a blanket to pull their favorite stuffed characters around.
  • Tie a big jingle bell into the laces of each of their shoes, and let them gallop around.

Bells in hands, and a long scarf as the reigns. Giddy up, Horsie!

  • Use a long scarf as reigns for your little horse.  Wrap the scarf around the front of their body and under their armpits, with the long ends trailing in the back for you to hold onto.  Let them hold, or wear, bells if you have them.  Have your horse lead you around the room, or even the yard.
Add bells to your child’s wagon, and make horse sounds as you pull them around.
  • TRADE places – the adult becomes the horse, and the child becomes the sleigh driver.  Make sure to turn around to see the proud faces of these sleigh drivers.
  • You may want to have a video capability when enjoying these activities to capture the awesomeness of the experience.  In class, there are so many ways I have seen children react to this activity.
  • Keep in mind that new experiences may take some getting used to.  When a child does not know what to expect, they may not see the enjoyment possibilities at first.  Remember to shape the first time experience around how your child reacts to new objects and experiences.  Let there be plenty of exploration time with the bells, the scarves, or the blanket first.

 

I PROMISE these activities will leave lasting memories of the fun times that you and your child share, as well as provide them with the knowledge of the songs of our culture, and of our history.

You may also be interested in the article:  Jingle Bells Shake Up the Fun Factor, for more jingle bell fun activities and facts.

I’d LOVE to hear if you know of additional songs about bell horses and sleigh rides – OR, if you have any additional ideas for interactive sleigh ride activities.

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