This lesson is designed to build your critical-thinking skills in English as you read, listen, and answer different types of comprehension and discussion questions.
Although these questions are related to classroom instruction, independent learners can reflect on the ideas and topic to prepare for the listening portion of the lesson.
Brainstorming: Have students brainstorm a list of different acts of kindness they can think of. This can be done in small groups or as a whole class activity.
Picture analysis: Show students a picture related to the story, such as a snowy town, a glass doll, or a family gathered around a fireplace. Ask them to describe what they see and make predictions about the story.
Vocabulary building: Introduce students to new vocabulary related to the story, such as “fragile,” “generosity,” and “unexpected.” Have them write the words down and brainstorm definitions or synonyms in small groups.
Prediction: Give students the title of the story and ask them to make predictions about what they think will happen based on the title alone.
Listen and read the story and answer the questions. Key vocabulary words are marked in bold.
It was Christmas Eve, and the snow was falling softly on the small town where the Smith family lived. The father, mother, and their four young children were gathered around the fireplace, sipping hot cocoa and enjoying each other’s company.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. The father got up to answer it and found a man standing there with a large package in his hands.
“Excuse me, sir,” the man said. “I’m new to this town, and I’m looking for the Johnson’s house. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere.” The father could see that the man was shivering from the cold, and he felt sorry for him. “Come on in and warm up by the fire,” he said. The man gratefully accepted the invitation and sat down in a chair near the fireplace. Mother went to the kitchen to make him some hot cocoa, and the children couldn’t resist the opportunity to nose around and see what was in the man’s package.
As they gathered around, the man opened the package to reveal a beautiful, fragile glass doll. The children gasped in wonder as the man showed the beautiful gift.
“Wow!” exclaimed the children. “That’s amazing!”
The man smiled at their excitement and explained that the glass doll was a gift for his daughter, who lived in the area. “I wanted to give her something special for Christmas, and I haven’t seen her for some time” he said.
When it was time for the man to leave, he thanked the family for their kindness and generosity. “I will always remember this Christmas,” he said, holding the glass doll in his hands.
As he stepped out into the snowy night, the family watched him go, feeling grateful for the unexpected joy that had come into their lives that evening.
So, to conclude, answer this question: How can small acts of kindness, like inviting a stranger into your home or giving toys to children, impact both the giver and the receiver. Think about it.
What did the man have in his hands when he knocked on the Smith family’s door?
a) A basket
b) A package
c) A box
d) A bag
2. The father invited the man inside because ___.
a) he recognized the man as a neighbor
b) he wanted to sell him something
c) the man was lost and cold
d) he wanted to give him directions
3. What was inside the item that the man was carrying in the first question?
a) A set of tools
b) A fragile glass doll
c) A book
d) A painting
4. Why did the man say he wanted to give his daughter something special for Christmas?
a) Because he had not seen her for some time
b) Because he always gave her gifts
c) Because it was a family tradition
d) Because she was sick
5. How did the family feel after the man left?
1. b) A large package
2. c) Because the man was lost and cold
3. b) A fragile glass doll
4. a) Because he had not seen her for some time
5. c) Grateful
Easy (Recall and Comprehend):
Intermediate (Analyze and Interpret):
Advanced (Analyze and Interpret):
Here are five classroom activities that can encourage critical thinking about the story: