The song was written by James Lord Pierpont and was originally published in 1857 using a title “One Horse Open Sleigh", then later named “Jingle Bells" in 1859. It was first debuted as a Thanksgiving song but became very popular during the Christmas holiday season. The birthplace of this song was Medford, Massachusetts because of the town’s sleigh races that were popular during the 19th century. The tune is now part of public domain.
Since the sound of bells is the main focus of this song and book, presenting bells across the curriculum in a preschool classroom is fitting. Two such books that are easily obtained at libraries and bookstores are:
Jingle Bells by James Lord Pierpont, Illustrated by Pauline Siewert (Candlewick Press, 2015)
A Magical Cut-Paper Edition of Jingle Bells by James Lord Pierpont, Illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat (Candlewich Press, 2014)
Circle Time Discussion
During circle time, read the story and show the illustrations from any of these books. Next, sing the song together. Then ask the children these questions.
What vehicle are the people riding in? (Sleigh)
How was the weather outdoors during the ride? (Snow)
How many horses carried the sleigh? (One)
Were the people happy or sad? (Happy and laughing)
Were there bells on the horse’s reins? How did they sound?
Have you been on a sleigh ride? Tell us about it.
Bell Science – Sound Discrimation
Compare the sounds of many kinds and sizes of bells. Discuss why the sounds are different. There are many uses for bells. Examples are church bells, doorbells, fire alarms, telephones, chimes, and musical instruments.
In class ring a variety of bells (dinner bell, cow bell, jingle bell, and so on). Encourage the children to listen to the unique sound each bell makes and to describe its characteristics. You can play a game with your class by having the children close their eyes while you ring one of the bells on the table. Then ask them to open their eyes and point to the bell they think you just rang.
Bell Math Games
Take ten index cards and draw bell shapes on each. The first card will have one bell, the second card two, and so on. Give each child in your group a bell. As you hold up the cards have the students ring their bell the number of times they see the shape on the card. This game is great for counting and listening skills.
Another game involves passing a bell around a circle of children while the teacher plays a tape of Christmas music. When the music stops, the child holding the bell rings it as directed by the teacher. Examples of directions: Ring the bell three times, ring the bell with your right hand, ring the bell behind your back, and other combinations.
A Crafty Hand Bell
- Poster board
- Wooden craft stick
- Jingle bell
- Glue gun or twine
- Safety scissors
- Assorted stickers
1. Draw a bell shape onto poster board.
2. Invite the child to cut out the bell shape.
3. Teacher helps to glue on the hand bell handle and the jingle bell. The bell can also be tied onto the bell shape. Punch a hole at the bottom of the bell. Thread yarn through the top loop of the jingle bell and thread it again through the hole of the shape. Tie it securely.
4. Invite the child to adhere stickers to decorate the bell.
5. Show the child how to hold the hand bell and shake it to ring the bell.
Use this bell craft during the bell games above.