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Holiday Lesson: "Re-Name That Tune" Vocabulary Activity


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    --Dance, Music
    --Visual Arts
  • Educational Technology
  • Social Studies


  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Build vocabulary skills with this "Re-Name That Tune" activity.

(Note: This activity uses Christmas song titles, but the activity easily can be adapted for use any time of year with the titles of other popular songs. A list of such song titles is included in the activity below.)


Students will

  • build vocabulary skills by rewriting the names of some popular songs.
  • create a fun bulletin board display.


holiday, December, Christmas, music, songs, popular, culture, dictionary, thesaurus, vocabulary

Materials Needed

  • white drawing paper (8-1/2 inches x 11 inches)
  • art supplies (optional)
  • Internet access (optional)
  • dictionary and/or thesaurus

Lesson Plan

Students exercise vocabulary skills and/or picture reading skills in this activity.

Notes: See below for ideas for Adapting the Activity for Younger Students.

Begin by introducing a handful of Christmas song titles in their reworded form. Write the following phrases on the chalkboard or on a chart:

  • Decorate the Entryways
  • The Red-Suited Man is Due in This Burg
  • Tranquility Upon the Terrestrial Sphere
  • 288 Yuletide Hours
  • Far Back in a Hay Bin

Give students a moment to absorb the words; see if they can figure out what this activity is all about. It might become clear to some of them that these phrases are rewordings of some popular songs sung around holiday time. The phrases above are rewordings of the following songs, respectively:

  • Deck the Halls
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  • Peace on Earth
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Away in a Manger

Have students brainstorm a list of additional holiday songs. Then have them choose any five songs to rewrite in the form demonstrated above.

You might introduce additional rewritten titles from the same source from which the above examples originated:
Christmas Song Quiz II and Quiz II Answers
Christmas Song Quiz III and Quiz III Answers

You also might instruct students about how they to use a dictionary or a thesaurus to complete this activity -- if that skill is age-appropriate and/or a part of your language arts/study skills curriculum.

Use the students' new song titles to create a "Name That (Holiday) Tune" bulletin board. First, have them create a "tent card" by folding in half a sheet of 8-1/2 x 11 inches drawing paper. (Or fold in half a large index card.) Arrange the cards on a bulletin board so the rewritten version of the song title appears on top; students lift the flap of the folded-over paper to reveal the actual song title.

Adapting the Activity for Younger Students
The same Web page that provides the resource for the above activity also offers a fun holiday-song-title activity for younger students. In that activity, students "read" picture images that provide clues to popular song titles. See the resource, Christmas Song Picture Game, on the Web page. You might use a projector connected to a computer to display the page for students; or print the resource and copy it onto an overhead transparency, then share it by placing the transparency on an overhead projector. Invite students to guess the holiday song titles illustrated in several of the pictures. (Answers are revealed on the Answers to the Christmas Song Picture Quiz page.) Sharing just a few songs will give students the idea for this activity. Have students brainstorm holiday song titles. Then assign each student a song title to illustrate in a manner similar to the illustration on the Christmas Song Picture Game page. Have them create tent cards by folding 8-1/2 x 11-inch white drawing paper in half; illustrating the song title on the front and writing the title of the illustrated song inside. Display the cards on a "Name That Holiday Tune" bulletin board as in the above activity for older students.

More Popular Children's Song Titles
As noted, this activity can be used any time of year. Instead of rewriting or illustrating holiday song titles, students can illustrate some of the titles of popular songs. Some sample titles might include: A Hunting We Will Go; America the Beautiful; The Ants Go Marching; Baa, Baa, Black Sheep; The Bear Went Over the Mountain; A Bicycle Built For Two; Big Rock Candy Mountain; Bingo; Camptown Races; The Candy Man; Clementine; Doggie in the Window (How Much Is That)?; Down By the Riverside; East Side, West Side; Eensy Weensy Spider; The Farmer in the Dell; Father's Whiskers; Follow the Leader; Froggie Went A-Courtin'... An excellent source of additional song titles is KIDiddles: Mojo's Musical Mouseum.



Assess students' ability to rewrite assigned song titles without reusing any of the words in the actual title. (For younger students: Assess students' ability to illustrate the assigned song titles.)

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NA-M.K-4.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
NA-M.K-4.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-M.5-8.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
NA-M.5-8.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-M.9-12.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
NA-M.9-12.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts

Don't miss dozens of additional activities for teaching about the December holidays on Education World's December Holidays archive page.

Click here to return to this week's "Unwrap Five Holiday Lessons" lesson plan page.


Updated 11/17/2011