“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”

“The Night Before Christmas” is an essential part of the festive season and in case you’ve never read it, I want to share it with you.

It was written in 1823 by Clement C Moore (though he didn’t claim penship until 1844) and continues to delight people of all ages. The story tells of St Nicholas landing his reindeer led sleigh on the roof, climbing down the chimney and delivering the presents before flying off with a cheery ‘Happy Christmas to all and to all a goodnight” All told through charming rhyming couplets. There are numerous different publications you can get hold of, from traditional Victorian illustrations to the crochet pattern book featured in the Advent Pot today.

This poem is particularly special to me as it has become a fixed tradition at my annual festive family gathering – the fabulous ‘Grandma’s Christmas concert’ where each of us siblings, now with our own children, do a turn on the makeshift living room ‘stage’. It is a time of great joy and hilarity with acts that have ranged from Luca’s ‘Irish dance’ in his baby bouncer aged 6 months (he is now 12)  to the lengthy duration of ‘The Jones Family Christmas Quiz’. When each person has ‘done a turn’ we mark the end of the show by reciting in unison the Night Before Christmas with the eldest knowing it word for word and the youngest  joining in for each rhyming word. It’s a wonderful moment and there are even some years when all 20 of us sound almost coherent!

The spoken word in the form of poems and stories is an incredibly important part of developing speaking and listening skills for people of all ages. Especially if you get your audience involved in reciting with you. I encourage all my students on Forest School training to make this an integral part of their Forest School sessions because as a leader, you are an influencer and by demonstrating a positive relationship with the spoken word you will inspire others to have one too.

You can access the full version of the poem using the link below so, go on, don’t be shy and read it to your group at Forest School. Use it as a stimulus for discussion, conversation or some creative child-led play. Or, of course, you could go one step further and use it as the finale to your own Forest School style Grandma’s Christmas Concert. I’m pretty certain you’ll discover some stunning talent that you didn’t know you had.