Category Archives: Holidays

Night Before Christmas Poem…Plagiarized?

“Every Christmas for more than 150 years, children have hung their stockings by the chimney with care and learned to thank Clement Clarke Moore for the tradition. Moore, a wealthy Manhattan biblical scholar, went down in history as the man who in 1823 created the American image of Santa Claus as the author of …The Night Before Christmas… But did Moore really write it? In a new study… Don Foster, an English professor at Vassar College and a scholar of authorial attribution, accuses Moore of committing literary fraud.”By David D. Kirkpatrick, NYT

(Note: ESL-Voices posted this 2014)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo credit- Crystal links

Photo credit- Crystal links

Excerpt: Whose Jolly Old Elf Is That, Anyway?…By David D. Kirkpatrick

“In a new book, Author Unknown, (Henry Holt & Company) Mr. Foster argues that A Visit From St. Nicholas, first published anonymously in a Troy, N.Y., newspaper in 1823, closely matches the views and verse of Henry Livingston Jr., a gentleman-poet of Dutch descent. Livingston, who lived in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., died before Moore was ever named as the poem’s author.

Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863) Photo- Wikipedia

Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863) Photo- Wikipedia

Livingston’s family first noticed the poem’s growing popularity two decades later and has insisted ever since that Livingston wrote it. But without physical evidence these claims came to naught. Last year Mary Van Deusen, Livingston’s seventh-generation descendant and an amateur genealogist, sought Mr. Foster’s help.

Henry Livingston, Jr. (October 13, 1748 - February 29, 1828) Photo- Wikipedia

Henry Livingston, Jr. (October 13, 1748 – February 29, 1828) Photo- Wikipedia

Mr. Foster, a well-known literary gumshoe, pioneered the technique of studying the details of a text’s wording and syntax to establish authorship, using computerized archives to look for telltale influences. He is best known for identifying Shakespeare as the author of the anonymous poem Funeral Elegy and the journalist Joe Klein as author of the novel Primary Colors. Mr. Foster has become the Livingston camp’s ardent partisan, frequently comparing Mr. Moore in the book to Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.

Santa. Photo- Pooh's Adventures Wiki

Santa. Photo- Pooh’s Adventures Wiki

His case is still untested by other scholars, but it promises to create a lively debate about a poem that has become an American icon. Whoever wrote it played a formative role in shaping the modern American Christmas, said Stephen Nissenbaum, author of the history The Battle for Christmas (Knopf, 1996). Before 1820 Americans typically pictured St. Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, as a skinny, stern bishop visiting children to dispense discipline as often as gifts, and not necessarily on Christmas Eve. The poem helped recast St. Nicholas as a jovial elf and turn Christmas into a time for giving gifts to children. Finally, at his family’s behest, in 1844 Moore took credit for the famous poem, including it without fanfare in a collection of his more solemn verses. But not before he checked that the coast was clear,Mr. Foster said.”

A bauble on a Christmas tree By Kris De Curtis-Wikicommons

A bauble on a Christmas tree By Kris De Curtis-Wikicommons

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ESL VOICES!

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing , and speaking.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials: article excerpt, materials from this lesson plan.

Objectives: Students will review the arguments for and against the authorship of the poem The Night Before Christmas and discuss their conclusions.  They will  also create similar poems, and drawings for this holiday. Students will practice reading, speaking,  and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Tasks

Brainstorming

Directions: Have learners brainstorm to build a list of all of the words they can  think of connected to the terms:  Christmas, santa claus, poem.

Brainstorming chart by UIE.

Brainstorming chart by UIE.

II. While Reading Tasks

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold (from the article) and use a dictionary,  thesaurus, and word chart  for assistance.

  1. Clement Clarke Moore, a wealthy Manhattan biblical scholar.
  2. Don Foster was an English professor and a scholar of authorial attribution.
  3. Moore was accuses of committing literary fraud.
  4. She was Livingston’s seventh-generation descendant.
  5. Mr. Foster is a well-known literary gumshoe.
  6. Mr. Foster has become the Livingston camp’s ardent partisan.
  7. He is known for studying the details of a text’s wording and syntax.
  8. He uses computerized archives to look for telltale influences.
  9. The Night Before Christmas has become an American icon.
  10. The poem helped recast St. Nicholas.

Reading Comprehension 

Sentence Fill-ins

Directions: have students complete the sentences from the article by selecting the correct words or phrases.

1. Clement Clarke Moore  has always been credited with___.

a. writing the National Anthem

b. writing the poem, The Night Before Christmas

c. writing a letter to Santa

2. His his authorship was challenged by___.

a. another author

b. Santa Claus

c.  English professor Don Foster

3. Moore was a wealthy ___biblical scholar.

a. Brooklyn

b. Manhattan

c. Bronx

4. Better known as___ it became one of the most widely read poems in the world.

a. The Night After Christmas

b. The Evening Before Christmas

c. The Night Before Christmas

5. Don Foster, an ___at Vassar College.

a. English professor

b. English student

c. English writer

6. In a new book,___.

a. A Visit From St. Nicholas

b. Henry Holt & Company

c. Author Unknown

7. Mr. Foster argues that ”A Visit From St. Nicholas,” first published anonymously in a Troy, N.Y.,___.

a.  newspaper

b. magazine

c. book

8. Henry Livingston Jr., was a gentleman-poet of___descent.

a. German

b. Dutch

c. American

9. Livingston, who lived in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., ___before Moore was ever named as the poem’s author.

a. left

b. wrote to the newspapers

c. died

10. But without ___these claims came to naught.

a. popularity

b. witnesses

c. physical evidence

Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. The Livingston’s family first noticed the poem’s growing popularity two decades later.
  2. Mary Van Deusen was Livingston’s seventh-generation descendant.
  3. She was also a amateur genealogist.

II

  1. Mr. Foster is a well-known literary gumshoe.
  2. He pioneered the technique of studying the details of a text’s wording and syntax.
  3. His case is still untested by other scholar.

III

  1. Before 1820 American pictured St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) as  skinny.
  2. The poem helped recast St. Nicholas as a jovial elf and turn Christmas into a time for giving gifts to children.
  3. In Mr. Foster’s account, Moore, owner of an estate covering what is now Chelsea, was too much of a grouch to write such a playful poem.

Writing/Oral Task

Directions:  In your groups, take  the first 2 or 3 lines from the poem The Night Before Christmas, and create new verses. Then have each group present their verses to the class.

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house…”

Here are some humorous examples if you like:

Parodies of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ By David Emery,

Examples from David’s site:

A Star Trek Night Before Christmas (I)
‘Twas the night before Christmas on the Enterprise-D,
On a routine short hop to Starbase 03…

A Star Trek Night Before Christmas (II)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the ship
Not a circuit was buzzing, not one microchip…

A Florida Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the town,
No noses were frozen, no snow fluttered down…

A Programmer’s Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before implementation, and all through the house,
Not a program was working not even a browse…

A Gambler’s Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the nite before Christmas, I hit the Casino,
I went there to play, More than just Keno…

An Intellectual Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as musculus…

A Lawyer’s Night Before Christmas
Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse…

ANSWER KEY

 

Lesson Plan for “A Christmas Carol” with 5 Unknown Facts

“Charles Dickens was perplexed as to how to convince his fellow Londoners to give to the less fortunate during the holiday season. He planned to write a pamphlet on the subject, but it was over the course of one fateful train ride that Dickens came up with a better way to communicate his Christmas message…and save his flagging literary career.” C. DeVito CBS Philly

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for A Christmas Carol with Answer Key

Excerpt: 5 Little Known Facts About “A Christmas Carol” By Carlo DeVito CBS PHILLY

“Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol within six short weeks following his trip, and he began writing immediately upon his return. He walked the streets of London by night, turning the story and its characters over and over in his head. These walks were a metaphor—Dickens’ figurative journey was a trip into his own past, both pleasant and powerful, and intensely personal.

Here are five of the many real-life inspirations behind the beloved story:

The real Ebenezer Scrooge was Ebenezer Scroggie. Dickens has misread Scroggie’s tombstone in a Scottish cemetery to read ‘mean man,’ and wrote it down in his notebook for later use.

Who Was Tiny Tim? Scrooge’s sister, Fanny, was based on Dickens sister Fanny whom he adored. Many of young Scrooge’s memories are those of Dickens and his sister… Dickens stayed with Fanny, her husband, and their severely hampered young son, Henry Burnett Jr. Dickens placed his nephew of his favorite sibling at the center of his new Christmas tale.

Where Did The Cratchits Live? The Cratchits lived at 18 Bayham Street, in Camden Town. How do we know this exact address? Dickens describes the stroll Bob Cratchit took everyday to work. It is the same route Charles took as a boy into the city. The Cratchits were based on John and Elizabeth Dickens and their family (Charles’ parents). The eight Dickens lived in a four room house, exactly like the Cratchits on John Dickens paltry clerk’s salary.

Why That Weird Scene In The Pawnbroker’s Shop? As the Ghost of Christmas Future and Scrooge standby, a charwoman, a  chambermaid, and an undertaker go through Scrooge’s things with a pawnshop owner. What few people realize is that “A Christmas Carol” was an intensely personal story for Dickens. When Dickens father was sent to debtor’s prison, as the oldest boy, Dickens was sent to the pawnbrokers each day to sell the family’s belongings to keep them from starving, until they had nothing, and slept in their clothes on the floor. He had actually watched the pawnbrokers go through their shirts, and sheets, and ice tongs. This was one of the painful memories Dickens relived as he wrote “A Christmas Carol.”

What’s A Turkey Doing In “A Christmas Carol?” Many consider the addition of a turkey a complete anachronistic addition to the ending of “a Christmas Carol.” Why not a goose? Goose was the traditional English holiday meal. Turkey was American. However, Turkeys had been brought to Europe from the new word two centuries previously. The turkey was very much in vogue. In fact, while goose was the traditional English dish served for Christmas, back then, the purchasing of a turkey, which was harder to find, and more expensive, was a showing of wealth and prosperity. Scrooge is trying to treat the Cratchits to a feast unlike any other.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for A Christmas Carol

 

Lesson Plan: A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens

Level: intermediate-advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing and speaking. Vocabulary  activities are included.

Time:  approximately 2  hours.

Objectives: Students will achieve a better understanding of the story A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens by learning literary devices and terms  (e.g., imagery, symbolism, protagonist, themes)  used for analyzing stories.  They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events and in the story using these literary devices.

Reading Strategies: Students will make predictions based on the title; draw conclusions and make generalizations about what they have read by utilizing background knowledge, looking for the main ideas, making notes, highlighting or underlining specific information, and by answering discussion questions. They will learn new vocabulary through inference, highlighting unknown words, and using the dictionary.

Materials: An ebook copy of the story A Christmas Carol, biography of Charles Dickens, Examples of  Components for Literary Analysis

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Background information: Some points about the life of Charles Dickens to help students make connections to the story.

1- Biographical information about Dickens

Charles John Huffam Dickens  (1812 – 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in Marshalsea debtors’ prison in Southwark, London in 1824… To pay for his board and to help his family, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse... he earned six shillings a week pasting labels on pots of boot blacking. The harsh working conditions made a lasting impression on Dickens…  becoming the foundation of his interest in the reform of socio-economic and labour conditions for he poor. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas…and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms…His plots were carefully constructed, and he often wove elements from topical events into his narratives. His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre,  Oliver Twist and Great Expectations are also frequently adapted, and, like many of his novels, evoke images of early Victorian London.

Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens

2- What prompted Charles Dickens to write the story A Christmas Carol?

Early in 1843, as a response to a government report on the abuse of child laborers in mines and factories, Dickens vowed he would strike a “sledge-hammer blow . . . on behalf of the “Poor Man’s Child.”  That sledge-hammer was A Christmas Carol.

The Cratchit family is based on Dickens’ childhood home life. He lived in poor circumstances in a “two up two down” four roomed house which he shared with his parents and five siblings. Like Peter Cratchit, young Charles, the eldest boy, was often sent to pawn the family’s goods when money was tight. Like many poor families the Cratchit’s had nothing in which to roast meat. They relied on the ovens of their local baker which were available on Sundays and Christmas when the bakery was closed. At the time Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol Christmas wasn’t commonly celebrated as a festive holiday. In The Pickwick Papers and Christmas Carol Dickens’ descriptions of feasting, games and family unity combined with his message that Christmas was a time “when want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices” helped revive popular interest in many Christmas traditions that are still practiced today. In 1867 Dickens read A Christmas Carol at a public reading in Chicago.  One of the audience members , Mr. Fairbanks, was a scale manufacturer.  Mr. Fairbanks was so moved that he decided to “break the custom we have hitherto observed of opening the works on Christmas day.”  Not only did he close the factory on Christmas day, but he gave Christmas turkeys to all of his employees.

Source: A Christmas Carol Trivia: Charles Dickens website

3- Why did Dickens use Staves instead of Chapters in A Christmas Carol?

Instead of using the word chapters, which divides a piece of writing in a book, Charles Dickens used staves to signify that the novel was a carol in prose form.In music, a stave or staff is the series of horizontal lines and four spaces and is the archaic form of a verse of stanza in a song.

In the book “A Christmas Carol,” each stave or chapter represents a different story. Dickens wrote each chapter in a form of Christian allegory of redemption about Christmas and used the word stave to remind readers that he created the book with carols in mind.

Source: Reference Literature

Stimulating Background Knowledge

Prediction Organizer Charts

Directions: Students may use these reading charts by Pace High School as  pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading tools to aid their comprehension of the events and characters in the story.

Pace High School- Prediction Outcomes Chart

 

Character Predictions

 

Pre-reading Discussion Questions

Directions: Place students in groups and  let them discuss the following questions.

  1. Do you celebrate Christmas? Describe how you your family and friends celebrate.
  2. Have you ever met someone who was very cheap and mean during Christmas?  If so, describe this person to your group members.
  3. Do you know people who are so poor they cannot afford to buy anything for Christmas?  Describe the characters of these people
  4. If you could help some people during the Christmas season would you?  Explain how you could help.

II. While Reading

Vocabulary Word Inference

Directions: Place students in groups and have them infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story. The vocabulary lists are taken from each of the five Staves in the story. They can use this Vocabulary Chart by Learnnc.org as a guide.

STAVE ONE

MARLEY’S GHOST

  1. Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
  2. Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner.
  3. Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster…
  4. The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open, that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal…
  5. “A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach. “Bah!” said Scrooge. “Humbug!”
  6. Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner.
  7. …Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change—not a knocker, but Marley’s face…Marley’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow, as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar.
  8. “Who were you, then?” said Scrooge, raising his voice. “You’re particular, for a shade.” He was going to say “to a shade,” but substituted this, as more appropriate.”In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley.”
  9. “You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?”“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free-will,…” a
  10. Not so much in obedience as in surprise and fear; for, on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory.

STAVE TWO

THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS

  1. When Scrooge awoke it was so dark, that, looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber.
  2. The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped his way to the window.
  3. Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and, the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he thought.
  4. Marley’s Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through, “Was it a dream or not?”
  5.  Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
  6. It was a strange figure—like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child’s proportions.
  7. …so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts no outline would be visible in the dense gloom…
  8. The Spirit gazed upon him mildly… He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long forgotten!
  9. “You may—the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will—have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of it gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it happened well that you awoke. May you be happy in the life you have chosen!”
  10. The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its whole form;… He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom.

____________________________________________________________

STAVETHREE

THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS

  1.  He felt that he was restored to consciousness in the right nick of time, for the especial purpose of holding a conference with the second messenger dispatched to him through Jacob Marley’s intervention.
  2. The moment Scrooge’s hand was on the lock, a strange voice called him by his name, and bade him enter. He obeyed.
  3. It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which bright gleaming berries glistened.
  4. Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit…”I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”
  5. Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple deep green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur.
  6. And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in showing off this power of his, or else it was his own kind, generous, hearty nature, and his sympathy with all poor men, that led him straight to Scrooge’s clerk’s; … and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit’s dwelling with the sprinklings of his torch.
  7. Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit’s wife, dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons, which are cheap, and make a goodly show for sixpence; and she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of her daughters, also brave in ribbons;
  8. Martha didn’t like to see him disappointed, if it were only in joke; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door, and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him off into the wash-house, that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper.
  9. It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together.
  10. The bell struck Twelve.Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and, lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming like a mist along the ground towards him.

____________________________________________________________

STAVE FOUR

THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS

  1. The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.
  2. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible, save one outstretched hand. But for this, it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.
  3. But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror to know that, behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black.
  4. “If there is any person in the town who feels emotion caused by this man’s death,” said Scrooge, quite agonized, “show that person to me, Spirit! I beseech you.”
  5. The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar to his feet; …They entered poor Bob Cratchit’s house,—the dwelling he had visited before,—and found the mother and the children seated round the fire.
  6. They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in a steady, cheerful voice, that only faltered once: “I have known him walk with—I have known him walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder very fast indeed.”
  7. recollect how patient and how mild he was, although he was a little, little child, we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.”
  8. Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God!
  9. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as before—though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were in the Future—into the resorts of business men, but showed him not himself.
  10. The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.

____________________________________________________________

STAVE FIVE

THE END OF IT

  1. “I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh, Jacob Marley! Heaven and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!”
  2. He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.
  3. “They are not torn down,” cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, “they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here—I am here—the shadows of the things that would have been may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!”
  4. His hands were busy with his garments all this time; turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.
  5. Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!
  6. What’s to-day?” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.
  7. “No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the directions where to take it.
  8. The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled till he cried.
  9. It’s I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?”Let him in! It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier… Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!
  10. “A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestnessthat could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year!

__________________________________________________________

Questions for  Character Analysis

  1. From whose point of view is the story being told?
  2. Who is the protagonist in this story?  
  3. What are the professions of Ebeneezer Scrooge and Bob Crachit?
  4. In today’s society in what context is Scrooge’s last name used? What about the phrase “Bah! Humbug!”?
  5. Identify the main characters in the story. Provide short descriptions of each.

____________________________________________________________

Questions for Literary Analysis

  1.  What are some of  the themes in the story?
  2.  Provide examples of how Dickens uses imagery.
  3. Does Dickens provide symbolism the story? How?

Questions For Reflection

  1. How did Dickens’ personal life affect his writing A Christmas Carol?
  2. In what ways did the publication (the original) of A Christmas Carol help bring success to Dickens?  Hint: Was it only financial success?

Ideas for Writing Assignment

  1. Students could choose one of the themes and write an essay, giving their point of view.
  2.   Have students write a short paragraph on their favorite or least favorite character in the story.
  3.   Have students write a different ending for the story.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Holidays | Tags:

The History of Easter

“Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In the New Testament of the Bible, the event is said to have occurred three days after Jesus was crucified by the Romans and died in roughly 30 A.D.” The History Site

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

British and American festivities

 

Excerpt: Easter 2018 — The History Site

The Last Supper, c.1678 (oil on canvas), Champaigne, Jean Baptiste de

“The holiday concludes the ‘Passion of Christ,’ a series of events and holidays that begins with Lent—a 40-day period of fasting, prayer and sacrifice—and ends with Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday (the celebration of Jesus’ Last Supper with his 12 Apostles), Good Friday (on which Jesus’ death is observed), and Easter Sunday.

Although a holiday of high religious significance in the Christian faith, many traditions associated with Easter date back to pre-Christian, pagan times.

When Is Easter?

Easter 2018 occurs on Sunday, April 1. However, Easter falls on a different date each year. Easter Sunday and related celebrations, such as Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, are considered “moveable feasts,” although, in western Christianity, which follows the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th.

Religious [Meaning] of Easter:

Ron DiCianni – The Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus, as described in the New Testament of the Bible, is essentially the foundation upon which the Christian religions are built. Hence, Easter is a very significant date on the Christian calendar.

Passover and Easter:

Passover-dreamstime.com

Notably, Easter is also associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover, as well as the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, as described in the Old Testament.

Easter Traditions:

Lent, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday:

Ash Wednesday & Lent 2017-

In western Christianity, including Roman Catholicism and Protestant denominations, the period prior to Easter holds special significance. This period of fasting and penitence is called Lent. It begins on Ash Wednesday, and lasts for 40 days (not including Sundays). The Sunday immediately prior to Easter is called Palm Sunday, and it commemorates Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, when followers laid palm leaves across the road to greet him.

Easter Eggs:

Painted Easter eggs. 4freephotos.com

Irrespective of denomination, there are many Easter-time traditions with roots that can be traced to non-Christian and even pagan or non-religious celebrations. Many non-Christians choose to observe these traditions while essentially ignoring the religious aspects of the celebration. Examples of non-religious Easter traditions include Easter eggs, and related games such as egg rolling and egg decorating. It’s believed that eggs represented fertility and birth in certain pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity.

Easter Bunny:

In some households, a character known as the Easter Bunny delivers candy and chocolate eggs to children on Easter Sunday morning. These candies often arrive in an Easter basket.

The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are unknown, although some historians believe it arrived in America with German immigrants in the 1700s.

From ESL Voices:

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about  the Easter holiday.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Easter is a holiday of high religious significance.
  2. Traditions associated with Easter date back to pre-Christian, pagan times.
  3. Eastern Orthodox Christianity adheres to the Julian calendar.
  4. Those who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection are given “the gift” of eternal life.
  5. In western Christianity the period prior to Easter holds special significance.
  6. Holy Week ends on Easter.
  7. Irrespective of denomination, there are many Easter-time traditions.
  8. The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are unknown.
  9. Several Protestant Christian denominations, have opted to formally abandon Easter traditions, deeming them too pagan.
  10. An Easter dinner of lamb also has historical roots, since a lamb was often used as a sacrificial animal in Jewish traditions.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Easter is a Jewish holiday.
  2. Easter is also associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover.
  3. The Last Supper was essentially a Passover feast.
  4. In western Christianity the period prior to Easter holds no special significance.
  5. The Sunday immediately prior to Easter is called Palm Sunday.
  6. Palm Sunday commemorates when palm trees  were first grown.
  7. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Easter rituals start with the Great Lent.
  8. Examples of non-religious Easter traditions include Easter eggs, and related games such as egg rolling and egg decorating.
  9. Mostly adults  participate in Easter egg hunts.
  10. The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are known.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

___ some denominations ___Protestant Christianity, Easter Sunday marks the beginning ___ Eastertide.

Despite its significance ___ a Christian holy day, many ___ the traditions and symbols that play a key role ___ Easter observances actually have roots ___ pagan celebrations.

He was sentenced ___ death ___Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect ___ the province of Judea ___ 26 ___ 36 A.D.

III. Post Reading Activities

 KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

Is the Easter holiday celebrated in your country?

Are there any special traditions in your family to celebrate Easter?

From reading the article, do you think  Easter was celebrated more long ago?  Explain why or why not.

 

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Holidays | Tags:

New Year’s Celebrations!

“Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.” History.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit-Greetings1

Excerpt: The History of New Year History.com

“The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.

Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight.

New Year Celebration, Tendillas Square, Spain

In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries.

New Year Celebration, Vienna, Austria. Photo Image gallery.

In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

In Sweden, it is believed that whoever gets that one peeled almond hidden inside the rice pudding at Christmas will get married within a year. Credit: the scoop.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

The London Eye on the River Thames during New Year fireworks and celebrations. The Telegraph.

New Year Celebration New York City’s Times Square. Photo- C. Morris.

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight…Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 400-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds.”

From ESL Voices To All of Our Readers:

Wishing Everyone A Very Happy New Year!

Click here for more graphics and gifs!

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Intermediate-Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson)  and access to article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article about New Year’s celebrations with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Task

Prediction:Analyze headings and photos.

Directions: Read the title of the post, and article.  Analyze the photo(s) to see if  you can predict what  information the article will discuss.  Then based on this information,  make a list of ideas,  words and phrases that might be in the article.

The K-W-L Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about New Year’s celebrations.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia.
  2. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st.
  3. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the Gregorian calendar.
  4. Common traditions include attending parties, and eating special New Year’s foods.
  5. Other traditions include making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.
  6. The earliest recorded festivities date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.
  7. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars.
  8. The calendars would pin the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.
  9. In Egypt the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.
  10. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least five millennia.
  2. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays
  3. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Rome.
  4. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.
  5. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth).
  6. In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 3 and continue into the early hours of January 1.
  7. Revelers often eat specific foods that are believed to bring good crops for the coming year.
  8. Grapes in Spain, round fruits in the Philippines, suckling pig in Austria, soba noodles in Japan are all considered good-luck food.
  9. Other customs that are common in the U.S. include making resolutions.
  10. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight.

III Grammar Focus

Identifying Parts of Speech: Nouns

Directions: Identify the nouns in the following paragraph, then use the words to write a short paragraph about \ New Year celebrations in the United States.

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions format

Directions: use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

K-W-L Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. Provide a description of when and how the New Year is celebrated in your country. If you live in the U.S. then discuss how you celebrate the New Year.
  2. Discuss the types of foods you like to eat on New Year’s Day and the significance of the food.
  3. A big New Year  tradition in the U.S. is making resolutions. Discuss a few of your own resolutions and why you are making them.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: History, Holidays

Tips: Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square This Year

“As the famous New Year’s Eve Ball descends from the flagpole atop One Times Square, an estimated one million people in the street, millions nationwide and over a billion watching throughout the world are united in bidding a collective farewell to the departing year, and expressing our joy and hope for the year ahead. Here’s everything you need to know about joining the celebration live, in person!” Balldrop

New Year’s Celebration in Times Square, NYC

 

Excerpt: What to Expect on New Years

“Revelers start arriving late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve. By approximately 3:00 p.m. If you are planning to come to Times Square and join in the festivities, you are advised to enter from Sixth or Eighth Avenue. Your chance of getting a viewing spot near the Ball (at Broadway & 43rd Street) increases the earlier you arrive.

Revelers are directed by the NYPD to gather in separate viewing sections. As one section fills up, the revelers are directed by police to the next viewing section. As the evening progresses, revelers continue to fill the Times Square neighborhood along Broadway and Seventh Avenue moving uptown from 43rd Street to as far as Central Park.

NOTE: All attendees have to go through a security check before entering the viewing areas that are barricaded by the NYPD. Large bags and backpacks are not permitted, so don’t expect to be able to bring a a lot of snacks or drinks for your wait. Though you may be on your feet for hours, public restrooms are not set up for this event.

The celebration begins with the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball atop One Times Square. The Ball is lit at 6:00pm and begins its ascent accompanied by special pyrotechnic effects.

Shiny LEDs Ring In the New Year

Then, the Times Square Alliance sanitation crew, clad in bright red uniforms, begins to distribute tens of thousands of fun party favors—those famous hats, glasses, and noisemakers— to the Times Square revelers to help cheer in the New Year.

Sixty seconds before the big moment, the New Year’s Eve Ball begins its descent. At the stroke of Midnight, the Ball’s lights on are turned off as the numerals of the New Year “2017” burst to life shining high above Times Square.

Confetti Time

The world-famous New Year’s Eve confetti is released from the rooftops of buildings throughout Times Square creating a celebratory blizzard of colorful confetti as revelers welcome the New Year accompanied by colorful pyrotechnic effects.”

Category: Holidays | Tags: