Christmas Songs: The Shepherd’s Carol for Younger Children

 Ideas to teach The Shepherd’s Carol to children


Image by Morgan Weistling.  See this website for for her beautiful reasons for painting this.

Idea #1 (Action word actions and Silent Singing – very effective)

“Can your hands follow my hands?” you ask the children.  Raise your hands over your head, then move them down to your lap. Put your hands on your cheeks, then move them down to your lap. Gently rock your arms like a baby and start to sing this song. (The children are still following your arm and hand movements).


Mary, Mary – Pretend to rock a baby

Hush – Put your finger to your lips as if saying “shhh”

see the Child – Point to a pretend manger on the floor

Joseph – Swing a large traveling sack over your shoulder

Joseph – Grab a walking staff in front of you

Look – Shade your eyes with your hands as if looking at something in the sunlight

see how Mild! – Pretend to rock a baby

This is – Hold your hands and arms open wide in front of you

Jesus – Pretend to rock a baby

This is – Hold your hands and arms open wide in front of you

our King – Put a crown on your head

This is our Savior – Hold your hands and arms open wide in front of you

his praises we’ll sing – Hold your hands cupped around your mouth as if shouting something to someone far away

Do the actions for Mary.  Explain in one sentence that Mary is the name of Jesus’ mother.

Do the actions for Joseph.  Explain in very few words… this is a traveling sack like Joseph had to have when he and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, and this is a large walking stick that he used when he was walking along side the donkey.

Do the rocking motions.  Explain in one sentence that Jesus came to earth as a baby, but he really was a king!  Do the motions for “our king.”

Sing the song again and have the children do the motions with you.


Now, tell the children you are going to sing the song again without any SOUND.  Ask them to follow your hand motions as you mouth the words. (Make a big deal out of no sound<grin>.)  You can usually hear a pin drop.  The children are intently watching you as you mouth the words and do the actions.

Idea #2 (Arm swings and 3 piece puzzles)

Before you start this activity, post 9 puzzle pieces (3 pictures of 3 puzzle pieces each) up on the board. (Make copies of three pictures of Christ and cut them into 3 puzzle pieces.)



“Can your arms follow my arms?” you ask the children.  Swing your arms to the left in front of you.  Stop.  Now swing your arms to the right, also in front of you.  Stop.  Swing your arms around in a big circle.  (All the while the children are following you as you intently gaze at them and motion them to follow you.)


Start swinging your arms to the left and the right in the beat of this song, then sing, “Mary, Mary, …” as you swing your arms.  I sometimes will put a complete arm circle in to mix things up.  (The children are still following your arm swings as you sing.)




After you have sung the song through once, ask several children to come up with you and help you lead the group to swing their arms to the song.  At the end of the song, ask each child to choose a friend and bring them up to the front.

Puzzle Add on…

Explain that these friends they have brought up to the front will now try and put the puzzle pieces together into  3 different pictures while you all sing the song. (Ask swinging arms helpers to sit down.) When the song is finished, check the progress and perhaps ask another child or two up to help to put the puzzles completely together, all the while singing the song yet again.  When all the children are finished, ask them to sit down.

Now tell the children you will give them 20 seconds to put all of the colors and the shapes in the three puzzles into their inside chalkboard.  “Look really hard so you can remember!”

Hide one of the puzzles and ask the children what was in the picture.  Be specific about colors, people, and shapes.  Receive the children’s answers and then show the picture to help them check themselves.

Ask them if they can remember all the pictures while you sing the song one more time.  Hide all the pictures.  At the end of the song, ask specific questions about the pictures and receive the children’s answers.  Let them check themselves by showing them the pictures.

4 Responses

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Becky, Thanks for asking. No, it isn’t. I used it here giving full credit to the artist. I think she did a beautiful job.

      Take care, Sharla

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