Thanksgiving – Christmas Holiday Lessons Based on the movie:


by Betty and Jerry Woodfill

Synopsis: The authors, desiring to engage rhetoric students during the distractions of the holiday season, have crafted lessons based on Jean Shepherd’s endearing tales of coming of age in northwest Indiana.  The holiday  winter season module is a collection of lessons and accompanying resources.

Click on the listed lessons and resources for a wealth of yuletide reading/writing adventures sure to eliminate the doldrums of winter classes.

1.      Reading and writing A CHRISTMAS STORY:  This lesson consists of students composing from personal experience a narrative featuring their most desired Christmas gift.  The authors have fashion an autobiographical account written in the fashion of Jean Shepherd’s A CHRISTMAS STORY as an example.  The example is read by the students prior to composing their own narrative.  Additionally, the public domain narrative by Jean Shepherd is likewise read by the students.  Included are comprehension questions and a vocabulary study based on the Shepherd-like story.  An audio version of the Jean Shepherd-like story and the Jean Shepherd account read by Shepherd are available as supplementary resources.

2.      Comparing and Contrasting toys of the 1940s and the present:  This lesson is based on Shepherd’s description of the most sought after treasures of his “kid-dom”  memories, the students are instructed to compare A CHRISTMAS STORY toys with similar products of the present. 

3.      Jean Shepherd’s Life and Times:  This lesson employs Internet resources - YouTube, Wikipedia, etc., the students are instructed to fashion a biography of not only Jean Shepherd’s life but a description of unique qualities of life  in Hohmann, Indiana of the 1940s. (An excellent YouTube summary of Jean Shepherd's life was authored by his hometown, Hammond, Indiana. Click here to view the 12 minute account. Or click here for a quicker viewing.

4.      Use of YouTube A Christmas Story Movie Clips for Writing Types:  Because A CHRISTMAS STORY offers wonderful rich engaging examples as writing themes, the following clips are employed for specific writing lessons –

a.      Ralphie being threatened by the school  bully clip serves as a discussion of the topic of bullying.  (Click here to view the video.)

b.      Ralphie’s composition on “what I want for Christmas” video clip serves as an example of a position paper. (Click here to view the video.)

c.       Ralphie’s mother’s dressing of Randy for a winter walk to school clip serves as the basis for a process paper lesson. (Click here to view the video.)

d.      Alternatively, the Goldblatt’s children’s “Sitting on Santa’s” lap serves as an excellent process exercise: 1. Entering the line of waiting children 2. Mounting the stairs to Santa’s chair 3. Being lifted by Santa’s elves, etc.  (Click here to view the video.)

e.       Ralphie’s description of his Red Ryder Air Rifle serves as an excellent descriptive theme:  (Click here to view the video.)

5.      Writing a movie review of A CHRISTMAS STORY after a class viewing of the movie:  Students rate the movie one to five stars based on five categories.  A collection of reviews  by movie critics serves as example – positive and negative.

6.      Summarizing the A CHRISTMAS STORY movie::  Click here for a 30 second cartoon video summarizing the movie A CHRISTMAS STORY. Have the students list the scenes depicted in the cartoon and give a brief paragraph description of each scene 

7.      Comparing A Christmas Story's Santa Claus with trained summer camp Santas::  Click here to examine the "un-Santa-like" demeanor of the movie's Santa, Then have the students click here to read about Santa Claus training. Then watch the video describing Santa Claus Summer School by clicking here. After watching the video compare the A CHRISTMAS STORY SANTA to proper Santa shopping mall performance. Using the article and viewing the movie will provide background in composing a comparison of an authentic with an exasperated department story Santa Claus. As an alternate exercise click here and compare the Santa in this video to the A Christmas Story Santa.  

8.      A CHRISTMAS STORY as a class play: Phil Grecian authored a play based on the 1983 movie. The play captures on stage many scenes depicted in the MGM production. A local company of players performed the play which was captured on YouTube by a member of the audience. The performance can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here . Class groups may choose a scene, take notes on what is said/done by the actors, and recreate the scene then perform it before the entire class. Most of the individual scenes are narrated by the actor who plays Ralphie as an adult so that performances require few lines to memorize. The narrator need not memorize his lines but simply read them as other members of the group duplicate what is viewed is A CHRISTMAS STORY movie or play YouTubes.

9.      A CHRISTMAS STORY concluding class activity:  Students enjoy a party featuring clips from the movie, refreshments, prizes and decorations based on the movie.

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