Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.
As a result of this lesson, students will:
- Recognize titles of classic and famous Christmas literature.
- Recognize basic information about the stories on which classic and famous Christmas literature are based.
- Read and comprehend traditional and famous Christmas literature.
- Compare and contrast traditional and famous Christmas literature with movies based on those tales.
- Compare and contrast characters in traditional and famous Christmas literature.
45-60 minutes/day over 6 days
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
NOTE: This standard can be applied to almost any grade level and is listed throughout the CC Standards. The lesson can be adapted to almost any level, depending upon your choice of literature.
- SmartBoard or projector to display the lesson
- Copies of the 'Classic & Famous Christmas Literature Stories & Authors' quiz (1 per student)
- Common Christmas Stories Characters Chart handout (1 per student)
- Copies of the traditional and famous Christmas stories in the lesson, so that each student will have access to one story per day. Many of these are available online as free e-texts. Texts include:
- 'At Christmas Time' by Anton Checkhov (short story)
- 'A Letter from Santa Claus' by Mark Twain (short story)
- 'A Country Christmas' by Louis May Alcott (short story)
- 'The Gift of the Magi' by O. Henry (short story)
- 'Christmas Bells' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (short story)
- 'The Three Kings' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (short story)
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (poem)
- 'The Little Match Girl' by Hans Christian Andersen (short story)
- The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman (novel)
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (novel)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (poem/picture book)
- Introduce the lesson to the students by reading aloud the book, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
- Tell the students that they will be spending several days reading traditional and famous Christmas stories.
- Use the lesson Classic & Famous Christmas Literature: Stories & Authors to introduce the list of stories to the class.
- As you read through the lesson together, ask students which of these famous and traditional Christmas stories they are familiar with. Note those that are less familiar to the students and make sure to include those in the subsequent activities.
- Display a list of the Christmas tales included in the lesson.
- Explain to the students that they will need to read at least 3 of the titles on the list, over the coming week. (Do not include The Polar Express on the list, as you already read it to the class in this lesson.)
- Give students time to select their first text and to start reading. If they are not finished with the text during class, they should finish it for homework.
- Give each student a blank copy of the Common Christmas Story Characters chart handout.
- Using The Polar Express as an example, complete the Common Christmas Story Characters chart together with the students. Explain that many of the stories will have characters that fulfill one of the roles on the chart. You can also add additional roles, as needed.
- Have the students complete the chart for the story they read the previous day.
- Allow the students to select and read a second text from the list. If they don't finish it during class time, it should be finished prior to coming to class the next day.
- Tell them to fill in the information from this story in the chart as soon as they finish reading.
- Students read a third text and complete the chart for that text.
- Show the movie, The Polar Express. It is 1 hour and 40 minutes long, so plan to finish it during the next class period.
- Finish showing the movie, The Polar Express.
- Use a Venn Diagram to compare the book with the movie, highlighting both similarities and differences.
- Read 'Is There a Santa Claus?' by Frank Church, displaying the newspaper editorial to the students using a SmartBoard or projector, or providing them with a copy of the original newspaper editorial to read.
- Discuss how this is different from the other traditional and famous Christmas texts they have read.
- Have the students use their Common Christmas Story Characters chart to discuss the types of characters that commonly appear in Christmas tales. Ask questions such as:
- Which characters appeared in almost every story? Why do you think that is the case?
- Which characters appeared in just a few stories? Why do you think that is the case?
- How were the characters similar even though the stories were very different?
- As an assessment for the lesson, have each student individually complete the Classic & Famous Christmas Literature: Stories & Authors Quiz.
- Provide students with time to read additional stories from the traditional and famous Christmas stories list.
- Watch additional movie versions of these texts and compare them with the text versions.
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