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ESL Christmas Lesson Plan: “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (based on the poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore)

Level: ESL High-Intermediate
Objectives: acquaint students with the poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" as a traditional Christmas read; talk about Christmas traditions and image of Santa Claus as perceived through the poem
Teacher Notes:
Tell students they’ll read a poem written in mid-nineteenth century that largely influenced the modern ideas about how Santa Claus looked and acted. This poem is traditionally read on Christmas Eve.
Divide the class into pairs and ask to discuss the conversation questions (1-4). Elicit vocabulary such as: sugar plums, gift giving, St Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle; red, green and white colors, etc.
Pre-teach the new words that students will come across in the poem. Let students find the missing words in Vocabulary: Fill In The Gap exercise.
Review the word rhyme, which is a word that sounds the same as another word. Explain that in this poem the rhyme pattern is AA, BB, CC, DD etc. That means the last words in two consecutive lines rhyme with each other (the 1st with the 2d, the 3d with the 4th, the 5th with the 6th, etc.) Students have to find the last word in each line out of the words found to the right of each verse. Exemplify the rhyme pattern with the 1st verse.
1   Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the _____
2   Not a creature was stirring, not even a _____.
3   The stockings were hung by the chimney with _____, 
4   In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be _____.
      (1) house (2) mouse (3) care (4) there
Allow students time to read through the poem and find the rhyming words. Read the poem verse by verse, clarifying the meaning and vocabulary. Call students to read a few more times encouraging expressive reading. If possible let listen online or assign to listen as a homework.
Follow with comprehension questions about the poem.
Extension: Students choose 2 rhyming words from the poem and add two more to the list. For example: around, bound + ground, pound. This activity can be set up as a group competition for finding a bigger number of rhymes.
Student Handout:

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ESL Lesson Plan Twas the Night Before Christmas.pdf

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