Category Archives: Holidays

Refugees Give Gratitude and Thanks for First Thanksgiving In America!

“Recently arrived refugees in the United States prepare to cook the most American of feasts… From the day of arrival, food is an integral part of adjustment to a new country.” By J. Moskin, The New York Times (11/2018)

Note: This article was written ‘before’ Covid-19. Please remember to follow rules about wearing masks and distancing this year. Please stay safe —  ESL Voices Nov. 2020 

Everyone Can Make Thanksgiving Safer November 2020 — CDC (Center for Disease Control)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Members of the church’s refugee task force, which sponsored Ms. Anjari’s family for resettlement in the United States.Credit Christina Holmes for The New York Times

 

Excerpt:  The First Thanksgiving By Julia Moskin, The New York Times

“Two years ago this month, Mayada Anjari was only dimly aware that a holiday was approaching. After the family’s three-year journey as refugees from Syria, her sons — Hayan, Mohammed and Abdulrazaq — had just started school here; her husband, Ahmad Abdulhamid, was looking for work; She had cooked for the church group that sponsored the family’s resettlement…A new friend who was also Muslim gave her a turkey from a local halal butcher for Thanksgiving. Ms. Anjari cut it into pieces, covered it with water, and simmered it into soup with potatoes, carrots, ginger and cumin. Her family liked it, she said, but it didn’t seem very special to her. So she decided to take a test run at making her first Thanksgiving feast.

Preparing for her first Thanksgiving dinner, Mayada Anjari roasted a turkey in her kitchen in Jersey City.CreditCreditChristina Holmes for The New York Times

The family left their home city, Homs, on March 31, 2013, when the daily violence of the civil war had made their lives untenable. They walked across the Jordan border in darkness, were picked up by the Jordanian military… They registered as refugees with the United Nations, so the boys could attend school, but the adults couldn’t work legally. Food and money were always scarce.

Working with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Department of State brings a certain number of refugees each year — most of them families with young children — to resettle in the United States. Only people displaced by violence or the threat of violence (like asylum seekers) can apply; the program is separate from other American immigration quotas and regulations…So far in 2018, about 22,000 people have been allowed in, and just 50 of them were Syrian. Despite the continuing civil war and refugee crisis, Syria is one of seven countries from which the Trump administration has forbidden people to enter the United States. On the State Department’s list of things that sponsors must provide immediately is a ‘culturally appropriate’ meal for the family. Some sponsors interpret this in religious terms, and provide store-bought halal fried chicken or kosher pizza.

For Congolese and Rwandan arrivals Moambe Chicken (Poulet à la Moambé) Explorers Kitchen

‘The culturally appropriate hot meal is simply the best federal regulation of all time,’ said Chris George, executive director of Integrated Refugees & Immigrants Services, a New Haven agency that has resettled more than 6,000 refugees in Connecticut since 1982. For Congolese and Rwandan arrivals, volunteers have made chicken moambe, a braise with tomato, onion, peanut butter and rich red palm oil, a basic ingredient in those countries and for many, the taste of home.

Afghanistan traditional pulao of lamb and rice with raisins

For an Eritrean mother and children, an Ethiopian family who had arrived earlier supplied a meal with injera, the soft, spongy flatbread that is a staple in both countries.

Fereshteh Ganjavi, who arrived from Afghanistan in 2013 and now works at Integrated Refugees, said the meal is particularly powerful for refugees who arrive after years of exile from their home country. Her welcome dinner included a traditional pulao of lamb and rice with raisins, and green tea spiced with saffron and cardamom, a brew specific to the mountainous Hindu Kush region that stretches across northern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Dima King, a native Russian practiced for his first Thanksgiving dinner by making a pumpkin pie.Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

Dima King, who arrived in the United States last year, is seeking asylum because of the anti-gay persecution and legislation that have taken hold in his native Russia since 2013. He is cooking his first Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Just to give an idea of how welcoming Nichols School students were to our refugee clients at Journey’s End’s Buffalo’s First Thanksgiving!

‘I understood it right away as a celebration of new Americans and Native Americans,’ he said. Holidays that celebrate a good harvest are universal, he said, but Thanksgiving also honors the practice of treating strangers with generosity, charity and humanity. ‘Of course, that is a holiday I want to cook for.’

Mr. King is a graduate of Emma’s Torch, a nonprofit restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that offers professional culinary training to resettled refugees; he is soon to start a job as a line cook at Temple Court, a chic restaurant in the financial district.”

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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Ask students to think about what they already know about how  Thanksgiving is celebrated in The United States. You may wish to begin here because one refugee in this article speaks about the significance of the American Indians and Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving in the United States-Wikipedia

Next, have students look at the pictures in this  text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

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. The civil war had made their lives untenable.
  2. They registered as refugees with the United Nations.
  3. From the day of arrival, food is an integral part of adjustment.
  4. Food and money were always scarce.
  5. Chris George is a passionate advocate for refugees.
  6. The program is separate from other American immigration quotas and regulations.
  7. The vetting process for resettlement takes about two years.
  8. Sponsors must immediately provide a culturally appropriate meal for the family.
  9. Some sponsors stocked the family’s new kitchen with key ingredients.
  10. Dima King, who arrived in the United States last year from Russia, is seeking asylum.

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. Two years ago this month, Mayada Anjari was only dimly aware that a holiday was approaching.
  2. Mayada  Anjari’s family is from from Pakistan.
  3. The family left their home city, Homs in 2013.
  4. They registered as refugees with the  U.S. Refugee Camp so the boys could attend school.
  5. The children could attend school and  the adults could work legally.
  6. Working with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Department of State brings a certain number of refugees each year.
  7. Sponsors must provide a ‘culturally appropriate’ meal for the family.
  8. Chris George is a refugee  at Integrated Refugees & Immigrants Services,  in New Haven.
  9. Fereshteh Ganjavi, who arrived from Afghanistan in 2013 and now works at Integrated Refugees.
  10. Dima King, who arrived in the United States last year, is seeking asylum because of the anti-gay persecution.

Grammar: Identifying English Articles

Directions: Have students choose the correct English articles (THE, A, AN)  from those provided to fill in the blanks.

  1. By last fall, ___boys (now 14, 12 and 10) had learned about the Pilgrims.
  2. Ms. Anjari had memorized ___two-mile walk to ___nearest store.
  3. She had cooked for ___church group.
  4. Fans of Ms. Anjari’s food helped her publish ___cookbook of Syrian recipes.
  5. ___daily violence of ___civil war had made their lives untenable.
  6. From the day of arrival, food is ___integral part of adjustment to ___ new country.
  7. Mr. George is ___passionate advocate.
  8. ___Eritrean mother and children arrived earlier in the year.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students 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?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Are any students celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time in America?
  2. Have students discuss the ways Thanksgiving is regarded in their countries. 
  3. Students might  list things they personally associate with Thanksgiving.
  4. Students could create drawings of their families, food, or other items connected to Thanksgiving.
  5. Ask students to make a list of things for which they are thankful.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

 

New Year’s Celebrations!

“Celebrating the start of the New Year has been practiced for at least four thousand years. The following article reviews the history,  significance, and common traditions of this festive, and meaningful holiday.” History.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

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

Excerpt: The History of New Year’s Celebration–History.com

“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).

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.

New Year Celebration, Tendillas Square, Spain

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.

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 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.

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. the scoop.

 

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.

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

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.)

Chinese New Year, Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Photo-NBC News

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.”

WISHING EVERYONE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

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

Time: approximately 2 hours.

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

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

 

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.

Vocabulary Organizer by Against the Odds

 

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

Reading Comprehension Check

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. The article 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. Discuss the types of foods you like to eat on New Year’s Day and the significance of the food.
  4. 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.
  5. What new ideas have you learned from this article? Discuss them with group members and the class.

ANSWER KEY

NOTE: Happy New Year Banner Courtesy Vector Logo.

 

Category: History, Holidays, Social Issues | Tags:

The Wonder of Global Christmas Festivities

“It’s that time of the year when people world-wide celebrate Christmas. The following article highlights six countries and their uniques versions of celebrating Christmas.” J. Margolies, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: Six Christmas Traditions From Around the World, By Jane Margolies, The New York Times

Christmas trees, Santa Claus and gingerbread lattes are all well and good. But with the homogenizing creep of Yuletide customs, travelers might well worry they’ll go to the trouble of getting somewhere new over the holidays only to find it’s just like everywhere else. Not the six places here. Each has its own way of celebrating Christmas, and with the festivities unfolding in plazas, parks and other public places, travelers are free to join right in.”

Castleton, England

Directions near Castleton in the Peak District in Derbyshire, England, where Christmas singing resounds in local caves. Credit- Jamie Duff

This pretty English village in Derbyshire’s Peak District is known for its walking paths and, high on a hill, the picturesque ruins of a Norman castle. It’s also home to four spectacular caverns bristling with stalagmites and stalactites. On weekends leading up to Christmas two of the caves offer caroling sing-alongs.

Jerusalem

The Basilica of the Nativity, on the place where Christ was born, in Bethlehem.Credit- Nasser Shiyoukhi

In most parts of Israel, where Christians make up about 2 percent of the population, it’s business as usual on Dec. 24 and 25. But in this city where Jesus lived and died, Christmas is joyously celebrated in the Christian quarter of the Old City. Churches decorated with trees conduct nonstop services in many languages (see cicts.org for listings of services), with Jews and Muslims often sitting in.Marching bands and bagpipers led by Arabian horses weave through the narrow streets to Manger Square, the plaza outside the Basilica of the Nativity, which stands on the grotto where Jesus was born.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Sculptures made of radishes are shown at Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) in Oaxaca, Mexico. Credit:Judith Haden: DaniaDelimont.com

Posadas — door-to-door processions that re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter — and a parade with candlelit paper lanterns fill the streets of this city in southwestern Mexico… But the most awe-inspiring custom is the century-old competition known as the Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) on the evening of Dec. 23. In the zócalo, the city’s central square, under a canopy of lights, farmers display elaborate sculptures — nativity scenes, robed kings, musicians — all carved out of the giant radishes grown locally.

Quebec City

Père and Mère Noël stroll the streets of Quebec City. Credit- Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

You would think temperatures in the teens and wind whipping off the St. Lawrence River would drive everyone indoors. But the 403-year-old capital of Quebec province revels in the outdoors at Christmastime, when stone buildings sparkle with lights. Fortify yourself with maple sugar pie from the Ferme Line & Steve Morency stand at Le Marché de Noel in the farmers’ market in the Old Port area.

Rome

Christmas lights decorate the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Credit Alseeandro Bianchi:Reuters

Although the larger-than-life nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square is under wraps until Dec. 24, when this year’s still-top-secret version will be unveiled just in time for the Pope’s midnight Mass, you can feast your eyes on the remarkably detailed 18th-century Neapolitan carved-wood crib… Piazza del Popolo, to see crib elements made of everything from coral to chocolate. Or just duck into any church or cathedral you happen by.

Taos, N.M.

Farolitos, paper bags with votive candles inside, illuminate Taos, N.M. Credit- Walter Bibikov:DaniaDelimont.com

Bonfires blaze nightly in the plazas, bringing a block-party vibe to this New Mexico town. Farolitos (brown paper bags lighted with votive candles) line streets, snaking past galleries and art studios… When the Spanish came here in the 17th century, they brought their culture, and today celebrations blend Catholic and Native American traditions.”

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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, to find out what they already know about Christmas celebrations in different countries.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the article to generate ideas or words about the topic.  Discuss as a class and list these ideas on the board.

Colorful Brainstorming chart from Live It Magazine.

II While Reading Tasks

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. This pretty English village in Derbyshire’s Peak District is known for the picturesque ruins of a Norman castle.
  2. At Peak Cavern’s evening songfests participants sit inside the cave — which has great acoustics — to belt out “We Three Kings” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  3. From Jerusalem, many people make the pilgrimage six miles south to Bethlehem.
  4. The plaza outside the Basilica of the Nativity, which stands on the grotto where Jesus was born.
  5. Posadas are door-to-door processions that re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter.
  6. Tthe most awe-inspiring custom is the century-old competition known as the Noche de Rábanos.
  7. The 403-year-old capital of Quebec province revels in the outdoors at Christmastime.
  8. Just visit into any church or cathedral you happen by.
  9. In Italy there are burlap-and-straw depictions of the Italian witch called La Befana.
  10. Bonfires blaze nightly in the plazas, bringing a block-party vibe to this New Mexico town.

Reading Comprehension

True / False

Directions:  The following statements were taken from the article.  If  a statement is true, write (T) if  a statement is false  write (F). 

  1. Each country mentioned in the article has similar ways of celebrating Christmas.
  2. The English village in Derbyshire’s Peak District is known for its walking paths.
  3. On weekends leading up to Christmas in Derbyshire’s Peak  people can sing in the caves.
  4. From Bethlehem  many people make the pilgrimage six miles south to Jerusalem, to celebrate.
  5. In Oaxaca, Mexico, the most awe-inspiring custom is the century-old competition known as El  Día de los Muertos on the evening of Dec. 23.
  6. Creations such as Nativity scenes, robed kings, musicians, are all carved out of the giant radishes grown locally.
  7. In Quebec City the 403-year-old capital of Quebec province revels in the outdoors at Christmastime.
  8. In Rome the larger-than-life nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square is kept under wraps until Dec. 24.
  9. La Befana, is an Italian santa  said to fly around on a broomstick.
  10. In Taos, N.M. celebrations blend Catholic and Native American traditions.

Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students 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?

Discussion/Writing Questions

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

  1. Describe how Christmas is celebrated in your country.
  2. Which celebration described in this article is your favorite? Explain why.
  3. Can you see any similarities between the six celebrations?
  4. What new information have you learned from this article? Share it with your group and then as a class.

 

Group Project

Directions: Have students go to this site Santa’s Net  which has a large collection of traditions  from different countries.  Have each group choose a country that celebrates Christmas differently from the ones mentioned here, and describe that  country’s celebration.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

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

 

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

 

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