Tapestry of Faith: Wonderful Welcome: A Program for Children Grades K-1

Activity 5: Singing "Little Drummer Boy"

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A copy of Handout 1, Little Drummer Boy
  • Optional: Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Optional: Percussion instruments for all participants

Preparation for Activity

  • Make sure you are familiar with the song, "Little Drummer Boy." On The North Pole website, listen to the tune of "Little Drummer Boy" and see the lyrics published by James Pierpont in 1857. Or, or view a clip from a 1977 television special of Bing Crosby and David Bowie performing the song as a duet.
  • Optional: Invite adult volunteers to play an accompanying instrument or help teach and lead the song.
  • Optional: Write the lyrics in large print on newsprint and post.
  • Optional: Gather simple percussion instruments for children to use as they sing the song.

Description of Activity

In the song, "Little Drummer Boy," a child gives an intangible gift to one of the most important figures in human history. The little boy has nothing tangible or material to offer the newborn king, only the intangible gift of his song.

Tell the group they will learn and sing a song that demonstrates an intangible gift that is given and received. Say:

In the story, Nelson thought his green blanket was the gift. He was upset when it got lost. But really the present was the time he spent and the love he shared with his Nana Elsa. After we sing "Little Drummer Boy," see if you can tell me what the real gift is in this song.

Teach the children the song, one verse at a time. Then distribute percussion instruments if you have them, or invite children to pat their thighs or stamp their feet to emphasize the "rum pum pum pums" as you sing it through together once or twice.

Suggest they consider the percussive noises they make as a gift of music. You might invite them to demonstrate:

  • How a drum might sound if you were playing it for fun.
  • How a drum might sound if were playing it as a gift of music.
  • Lead the group in singing the song once or twice. Then, ask the children what the real gift is in the song. Allow some comments. You might say something like:

The animals and people who hear the little drummer boy in this song do not receive a present they can see or touch or keep. But they all know they are getting a wonderful, real gift when they hear the drummer boy's music. Even the ox and lamb keep time with him and the baby Jesus smiles. The baby seems to know the boy is giving love in the form of music.