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Teaching Reading with Christmas Favorites

christmas reading activities using 'twas the night before christmas

Hey, everyone! Can you believe the holidays are so close? December is a fun, crazy, busy time of year, but there are so many ways to make things exciting in your classroom. Maximize your time by teaching reading with Christmas favorites. I like to have fun with my kids but I also want to make the most of every educational opportunity. One way I do this is by reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with my class.

Reading poetry can be a tough skill for 3rd graders and I use this unit and my kids’ love for Christmas to review a ton of poetry elements. I begin the unit with a good old fashioned read aloud. There are a lot of versions of this story by different publishers. I opted to go with the original that is no longer in print. Luckily, this version is in the public domain and can be found on Project Gutenburg. I converted the book into a Google Slides presentation to make it easier to share with my class. You can download it here if you would like to use it with your class.


Once we’ve read the story together for enjoyment, I give my students their booklets that include the poem plus comprehension pages. We go through and discuss poetry elements. I allow my students to use markers or color pencils to take notes to help keep them engaged. Here’s an example of some of the notes we take.

A Visit from St. Nicholas with annotated notes

Once we’ve covered the basics of the poem, we spend time discussing and summarizing each stanza. I always need more grades, so I have my students cut out paraphrased cards and glue them next to the appropriate stanza. This is an eye-opening experience for me. Even though my students have heard this story their whole lives, some of them have trouble with this activity.

student sample of reading activity using A Visit from St. Nicholas

Once my students understand the meaning of each stanza, I have them practice putting the poem in order with these sequencing cards.

sequencing activity for A Visit from St. Nicholas

Because ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (A Visit From St. Nick) was written so long ago, students are unfamiliar with some of the terms. We practice vocabulary 2 different ways. We match up the terms and their definitions in our class pocket chart. I also have a matching activity for my students to work on in centers. My students practice matching the vocabulary cards all week long.

vocabulary matching cards for A Visit from St. Nicholas

This unit keeps us busy all week. The activity book covers a wide range of skills, including: vocabulary, story elements, sequencing, and summarizing. I love this unit because it incorporates my students’ love of Christmas with some challenging skills. We can have fun with a Christmas classic and I can get several grades which isn’t always easy right before the holidays.

teaching reading with Christmas favorites - A Visit from St. Nicholas comprehension activity book

If you are interested in learning more about this unit, check it out in my TpT store.

More Christmas Reading Ideas

Another way I love teaching reading with Christmas favorites is by reading a classic story about a grumpy green guy. I used my lapbook template resource to create a unit that we use each year. My Grinchy lapbook is now included in my lapbook templates resource in my store. You can read more about my lapbook templates here.

What tried and true units do you use every year? I’d love to hear from you!

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Hey there!

Hi, I’m Deirdre. Thanks for dropping by. I love supporting 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers with simple and engaging activities. Let me help you make teaching easier.


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