12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas lesson plan

Why sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas"? Why are there 12 days, anyway? And why so many birds? Use this familiar song to count down to the holidays!

  • 1.

    The Twelve Days of Christmas is a very popular song. Do you think it might have started as a memory game like "I Packed My Bag," where you remember what other players packed and then add your own new verse?

  • 2.

    Some historians think that some of today’s song words aren’t the original ones. Colly bird (black as coal, blackbirds) has become calling birds, and five golden rings (meaning ring-necked birds such as pheasants) now are assumed to be circles that go around fingers. The original words meant that the first seven gifts were all birds! Whatever its origins, the sentiment of giving gifts to your true love around this season is lovely.

  • 3.

    Why not change the song’s words to fit your life? Make a list of gifts you could give to those you love. Figure out the number of syllables in each line so you can substitute words that fit the song’s rhythm. Here’s how to make your own "12 Days of Christmas" accordion-fold book or card.

  • 4.

    With Crayola® Scissors, cut front and back covers for your book from posterboard. Make it slightly larger than the paper you plan to use.

  • 5.

    With a Crayola Glue Stick, attach one end of construction paper to the back of the front cover. Fold down the sheet of paper to fit inside the covers. Continue folding the paper accordion-style and gluing on more paper until you have pages for all 12 days

  • 6.

    Decorate the cover and pages using Crayola Metallic Colored Pencils. On each page write the number and the gift. Keep the pages spread flat as you fill them with your words and gift illustrations.

  • 7.

    For a final festive touch, use Crayola Super Sparkle Glitter Glue to highlight on each page. Air-dry the glue with the book’s pages spread out.


  • Students explore the origins of a traditional Christmas song.
  • Students adapt historic lyrics to have meaning in their lives today.
  • Students fabricate, write, and illustrate an accordion book or card.


  • For a personalized touch, glue family photos on the first page to make a One Family All Together book.
  • Collect several different illustrated versions of the song. Compare and contrast them. Display in an exhibit.
  • Make an old-fashioned tableau of this song. Research the activity of tableau, assign, costume, and stage it at a winter concert.
  • Research the controversy regarding the hidden meaning of the song’s words in terms of Christian theology. Compare this song to the words of other holiday music.