A Christmas Memory Lesson Plan

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master's degree in Special Education from Salem State University.

In this lesson plan students learn about an American author, Truman Capote, then analyze one of his short stories, considering the elements of plot, character, setting, and theme.

Lesson Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify several works by author Truman Capote.
  • critically analyze Capote's short story, ''A Christmas Memory.''


  • 60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.


Instruction and Activities

An Author's Biography

  • As class begins, instruct students to write a response to the prompt:
    • How does an author's life experience impact their writing? Should an author's work be evaluated in light of an author's biography, or considered separately?
  • After allowing students several minutes to write, discuss the students' responses.
  • Distribute copies of the text lesson Truman Capote: Biography, Books & Facts.
  • Students spend time reading the lesson individually or in small groups, highlighting information they feel is relevant.
  • Students should work through the worksheet that accompanies the lesson to check for understanding.

A Christmas Memory

  • Students read the short story ''A Christmas Memory'' by Truman Capote. You may choose to read aloud together as a whole class or in small groups; or you may assign the story to be read prior to the beginning of class.
  • Briefly review the literary elements of character, setting, theme, and plot.


  • As a class, create a plot diagram of the story. Include exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution.


  • Students work with a partner to create a character sketch of one of the two main characters, the narrator or his friend. The sketch should be as complete as they can make it, but students should provide textual support for any claims they make about the character.
  • Students should choose the format for their sketch. Examples include styling their sketch after an actor biography in a playbill or creating a social media profile page.
  • Discuss as a class:
    • What notable omissions does the author make in regards to characters in this story? How does this help or hinder the story?
    • In what way does the choices of first person limited narration affect the impact of the story?

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