“The Uniting Power of Christmas: A Heartwarming Story”
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.
Comprehension Questions: Self-Grading Quiz
Comprehension Questions in Text Format
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):
- Why did the Smith family invite the man into their home?
- How did the children react when they saw the glass doll?
- How did the family feel when the man left?
- What did the man say he wanted to give his daughter for Christmas?
- What made the night special for the Smith family?
Intermediate (Analyze and Interpret):
- How did the man’s arrival change the atmosphere in the Smith family’s home?
- What do you think motivated the Smith family to show kindness to the man?
- How did the glass doll symbolize something more than just a gift in the story?
- Discuss the impact of small acts of kindness on both the giver and the receiver in this story.
- What lessons about generosity and empathy can we learn from the Smith family’s actions?
Advanced (Analyze and Interpret):
- Analyze the theme of kindness and generosity in the story. How is it portrayed through the actions of the characters?
- Discuss the significance of the glass doll as a symbol in the story. How does it represent fragile beauty and the value of heartfelt gifts?
- Explore the concept of unexpected joy and its role in the story. How does it relate to the idea that small acts of kindness can have a profound impact?
- Reflect on the power of storytelling in the narrative. How does the sharing of stories contribute to the bonding and connection between the characters?
- Discuss the larger societal implications of the story. How can acts of kindness and empathy towards strangers contribute to building stronger communities and fostering a sense of unity?
Here are five classroom activities that can encourage critical thinking about the story:
- Creative Writing: Ask students to write a continuation of the story. Have them imagine what would happen if the man returned to the Smith’s home the following Christmas.
- Discussion Circle: Divide the class into small groups and have them discuss what they would do if they were in the same situation as the Smith family. Encourage them to think about how they would react to a stranger in need.
- Comparing Stories: Have students read different versions of the story, such as “The Gift of the Magi” or “The Little Match Girl,” and compare the themes and lessons between them.
- Word Choice: Have students analyze the author’s word choice in the story. Ask them to identify descriptive words that help create a specific mood or feeling.
- Reflection: After reading the story, have students reflect on their own experiences of receiving unexpected acts of kindness or performing them for others. How did these experiences make them feel?
- Dramatic Reenactment: Have students act out the story in small groups or as a class. Encourage them to use their imagination and creativity to bring the story to life.