Lesson Plan: Christmas Day in the Morning By Pearl S. Buck

Lesson Plan: Christmas Day in the Morning By Pearl S. Buck

Level: intermediate-advanced

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

Time:  approximately  1.5  -2 hours.

Objectives: Students will achieve a better understanding of the story Christmas Day in the Morning By Pearl S. Buck 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 in the story using these literary devices.

Short Story: Christmas Day in the Morning

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: A copy of the story Christmas Day in the Morning, the biography of Pearl S. Buck, Examples of  Components for Literary Analysis, and the Study Guide: Understanding the Concept of Figurative Language  (see below)

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

Pre-reading Discussion Questions

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

  1.  Do you feel that your parents love you? How do your parents show their love for you?
  2.  Do you love your parents? How do you show your love for them?
  3. Have you ever done something so nice for your parents that they cried? If so describe what you did.
  4.  If you have children how do you show your love for them?

I. 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. They can use this Vocabulary Chart as a guide.

  1. It was four o’clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking.
  2. Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still!
  3. Yet what was the magic of Christmas now?
  4. They had explained with infinite gentleness.
  5. They wanted their children to build Christmas memories about their houses, not his.
  6. Then she had said, “Let’s not trim the tree until tomorrow, Robert. 
  7. The door to her room was shut because she was a light sleeper.
  8. For it was still night, a clear and starry night.
  9. The stars seemed always large and clear before the dawn of Christmas Day.
  10. He had overheard what his father was saying to his mother.
  11. His mother’s voice was brisk.
  12. He had never thought of it before, taking for granted the tie of their blood.
  13. He got up after that, stumbling blind with sleep, and pulled on his clothes.
  14. He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars.
  15. He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards.
  16. They accepted him placidly.
  17. They were poor, and most of the excitement was in the turkey they had raised themselves and in the mince pies his mother made.
  18. The cows were still surprised but acquiescent.
  19. Milking for once was not a chore.
  20.  His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of a laugh
  21. He found his father and clutched him in a great hug.
  22. His heart was bursting with love.
  23. “No, hark – the little ones are waked up.”
  24. That Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love.
  25.  He went to his library and fetched the little box that contained his special gift to his wife.


Questions for  Comprehension

Directions: After reading the story answer the following questions.

In the beginning of the story we learn a little bit about Rob and his family.  

  1. What time in the morning did Rob’s dad wake him up? 
  2. How old was Rob at the time of the story? 
  3. Where does the story take place?
  4. Where did Rob sleep in the house? 
  5. Why was Rob sad about his current Christmas?
  6. Why were his children staying at their own homes for the Christmas holiday?
  7. Why didn’t his wife want to trim the tree right away? 
  8. Why did Adam always wake Rob up so early in the mornings?
  9. Why did Rob become happy after overhearing the conversation between his parents?
  10. What gifts did Rob give his father in the past? 
  11. Why did Rob  want to get up early to milk the cows by himself? 
  12. What time did Rob get up that morning to milk the cows for his dad? 
  13.  What t gift did Rob give his father?
  14. What Christmas gift does Rob want to give his wife Alice? Why?


Questions for  Character Analysis

Directions: Use the character analysis chart and answer the following questions about each character.

How would you describe the following characters from the story:

Rob (as a boy)

Rob (as a grown man)

Rob’s Dad Adam

Rob’s Mom Mary

Rob’s wife Alice

Study Guide: Understanding the Concept of Figurative Language

Directions: Review the study guide for Figurative language then answer the questions from the story.

“A literary device is a writing technique that writers use to express ideas, convey meaning, and highlight important themes in a piece of text. A metaphor, for instance, is a famous example of a literary device.”

Some literary devices used in ‘Christmas Day in the Morning’ are:










A simile is a figure of speech that compares two unlike things and uses the words “like” or “as” and they are commonly used in everyday communication. A simile is used with the aim of sparking an interesting connection in the reader’s mind.

An example of a simile is:

“The cat sat in the chair like a king overlooking his kingdom.”

The cat’s sitting posture is compared to that of a king who relaxes in a special chair that is reserved for him and not any other person in the kingdom.

Other examples of similes:

The boy was as brave as a lion in the jungle.

The assistant was as busy as a bee.

The new teacher is as tall as a giraffe.


A metaphor is a statement that compares two things that are not alike. Unlike similes, metaphors do not use the words “like” or “as.” Such statements only make sense when the reader understands the connection between the two things being compared.

An example of a popular metaphor is:

“Time is money.”

The statement compares time and money, and it does not literally mean that the amount of time you have equals the money that you have. Instead, it means that time is a valuable resource, and it should be used effectively to earn money. Any time wasted means that a person loses the chance to make more money.

Other examples of metaphors include:

The warrior has a heart of stone.

Love is a battlefield.


Imagery appeals to readers’ senses through highly descriptive language. It’s crucial for any writer hoping to follow the rule of “show, don’t tell,” as strong imagery truly paints a picture of the scene at hand.

Example of imagery:

The following is from the well known children’s story Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

“In the hard-packed dirt of the midway, after the glaring lights are out and the people have gone to bed, you will find a veritable treasure of popcorn fragments, frozen custard dribbling, candied apples abandoned by tired children, sugar fluff crystals, salted almonds, popsicles, partially gnawed ice cream cones and wooden sticks of lollipops.”


Authors turn to tangible symbols to represent abstract concepts and ideas in their stories  Symbols typically derive from objects or non-humans — for instance, a dove might represent peace, or raven might represent death.

The literary definition of symbolism is “the use of symbols that represent other concepts or ideas in order to convey a deeper meaning.” Symbolism can use an object, person, situation, event, or action with a deeper meaning in the overall context of literary work that goes beyond surface understanding. When used properly, symbolism can enhance a piece of writing and bridge the gap between the reader and writer.

Some Common Examples of Symbolism in Everyday Life

rainbow–symbolizes hope and promise

red rose–symbolizes love and romance

four-leaf clover–symbolizes good luck or fortune

green traffic light–symbolizes “go” or proceed

Flashbacks Flashbacks are an interesting way to reveal to the reader what happened in the past.

Example: “A woman is about to get married. As she puts on her veil, she remembers her fiancé three years before, swearing he would make her his wife someday. A tear comes to her eye and she prepares to walk down the aisle.”

Here, the flashback is the memory of the woman’s fiancé three years before. The memory serves to show that her fiancé was sure of their relationship early on, and that his prediction has come true. The memory brings a tear of happiness to her eye.


Alliteration is the repetition of identical initial consonant sounds in successive or closely associated syllables within a group of words, often used as a literary device.

A familiar example is “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”.


Repetition is a literary device that involves intentionally using a word or phrase for effect, two or more times in a speech or written work. For repetition to be noticeable, the words or phrases should be repeated within close proximity of each other.

Example of repetition  “Why not waste a wild weekend at Westmore Water Park?”

Themes – often explore ideas that are both cross-cultural and deeply rooted in the human condition [e.g., loneliness, coming of age, love, friendship, betrayal].


Your Dictionary  yourdictionary.com https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-figurative-language.html

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literal_and_figurative_language

ESL-Voices Components for Literary Analysis  https://esl-voices.com/teachers/reading-writing/components-for-literary-analysis/

Repetition Example from Agnes Scott College webpage

Literary Analysis: Figurative Language

Directions: The following sentences are taken from the story. Next to each one write either:  S (Simile) M (Metaphor) A (Alliteration)  P (Personification)  F (Flashback)  R (Repetition) 

he could give the gift again and again”

such a happy happy Christmas”

“Two strong streams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant”.

“His heart was bursting with love.”

“His dancing heart was ready to jump from his body.”

“…and how his heart had nearly burst again with shyness and pride…”

He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays.”

“the thought struck him like a silver dagger”

“The stars were bright, much brighter than he ever remembered seeing them, and one star in particular was so bright that he wondered if it were really the Star of Bethlehem.”

“…the shepherds and the Wise Men had come…”

2. What are some Themes in the story?

Questions For Reflection

  1. Why do you think Rob did not give a special gift to his mother for Christmas?
  2. What do you think would have happened if Rob’s father had not acknowledged Rob’s gift to him?
  3. Rob says: “They had both remembered it, and now that his father was dead, he remembered it alone: that blessed Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love.” Why did Rob consider this his first gift of “true love”?
  4. Rob states:  “…That was it: Love alone could awaken love. And he could give the gift again and again.” What does  Rob mean by this statement?
  5.  Rob states, “…that was the true joy of life, the ability to love! For he was quite sure that some people were genuinely unable to love anyone. But love was alive in him, it still was.” Do you agree with this idea that the true joy of life is the ability to love? Why or why not?  
  6.  Rob also states, “he was quite sure that some people were genuinely unable to love anyone.”  In your opinion are some people incapable of love? Have you ever met anyone like this?  What about people in the public eye? Can you recall a book or film that depicted a character that was incapable of love? If so, please share your answer.
  7. If you could do so, what type of gift would  you give your parents that would surprise them the same as Rob’s dad was surprised?

Ideas for Writing Assignment

Choose one of the themes from the story and write an essay, presenting your point of view.

 Write a short paragraph on your favorite or least favorite character in the story.

 Write a story in which Rob’s dad is still alive. How might he and Rob interact with each other in the present time?

Write a story where Rob does something else to help his father.

Write a story in which Rob thinks of a Christmas gift for his mother.

Write a different ending for the story.


Short Story: Christmas Day in the Morning