Hello, everyone! Thanks to all for your positive responses to my OLLIs! It’s great to know that these are being used and are helpful for both your online and in-class lessons. Hoping this lesson will help you and your students fill your classroom with happy memories!
Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:
OLLI#1 (The Hike)
OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)
OLLIE#3 (Mother’s Day)
OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)
OLLI #5 – (WANTED: Criminals of the Animal Kingdom)
OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)
OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)
OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day)
OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!)
OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)
OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)
OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)
It’s Christmas – my very favorite time of year. And while this year will look different in many ways, one tradition that remains in our house is our Christmas book collection. When the decorations come out, so does the tub of holiday books. When my boys were younger, I bought them each a new Christmas story every year. Each story brings back memories and feelings from when they were young and the magic of Christmas filled our home. There were a few favorites that always ended up at the top of the bedtime reading pile. One of those favorites was Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present by John Burningham. (Just the name “Slumfenberger” alone was a hit!!!) I’ve read this book out loud I would guess over 60 times and it never ceases to delight. There is something comforting about the journey Santa takes, the repetitive language, the compassion, the kindness of those who help Santa on his journey, the importance of the individual, and the extraordinary message of the Christmas spirit. I have read this story aloud every year to to every grade from kindergarten to grade 7. I never tire of it, and nor do my students.
Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present – John Burningham
Early one Christmas morning after returning from his annual delivery, Santa discovers one present still in his sack — a gift for Harvey Slumfenburger who lives at the top of the Roly Poly Mountain, far, far away. Santa’s reindeer are asleep and one of them is sick. Santa is tired, but he knows Harvey only receives one gift a year and it’s the gift he brings him on Christmas Eve. So, he sets back out a very long journey on foot . . . by plane . . . on skis . . . until he reaches Harvey’s hut on the top of Roly Poly mountain. There, he delivers the last Christmas present. “I wonder what it is?” The last line of the book is one of the best endings because it invites the reader to think, to predict, and wonder just what Santa gave this little boy for Christmas.
One of my favorite things about this book is that the reader never knows what gift Santa leaves for Harvey. While we can use the clues of the size of the package to narrow down the choices, the possibilities are endless. I love having children really think about what they think Harvey might want given that he only receives one gift all year.
- Begin by inviting the children to brainstorm a list of things they would like for Christmas this year. Share with a partner.
- Tell the students – what if you could only have ONE gift – which one would you choose? Share with a partner.
- Explain that this is a story of a little boy who only ever got one present each year from Santa Claus. I wonder what it is?
- Read or share the story on YouTube (HERE)
- After the story ends, invite the students to think about what gift Santa might have left for Harvey. Discuss clues that will help with the prediction (ie – size of package; possible age of Harvey; ) and also what Santa may have thought would be a good choice for Harvey.
- Invite children to share their ideas.
- Pass out the Harvey’s Christmas Present temple and invite the students to draw and label what gift they think Santa brought. Click HERE for the template.
Story Mapping and Sequencing
Because this book follows Santa’s journey to Harvey’s hut at the top of Roly Poly Mountain, it works very well for re-telling, sequencing, and “de-constructing”. (If you have a copy of my book Powerful Writing Structures, you can follow the “Event Story” lesson on page ).
Students can use the Story Box template to map out Santa’s journey. Click HERE for template
Visualizing – This book paints many pictures in the readers’ mind and is one that lends itself well to practicing visualizing. Read the story aloud to the class WITHOUT showing telling them the title or showing them the or any of the illustrations. (cover the cover with butcher paper or play the YouTube with audio only) Invite them to practice visualizing the story. Pause and invite students to share “what they see” in their mind. Students could also draw sketches images while you read, or draw the one scene that “sticks”. What does the “Roly Poly” mountain look like? What does Harvey’s hut look like? What’s inside Harvey’s package? Make sure to show them the real illustrations afterwards!
Questioning and Inferring – This book invites many questions and works well for practicing questioning and inferring. Among some of the questions I have had from students: Why are their only two reindeer? How did the Reindeer get sick? What did Santa bring Harvey? How did Santa get home? Why does Harvey only get one present? How would Harvey feel if he woke up on Christmas day with no presents?
Reader’s Theater – This book would make would be a wonderful one to use for Reader’s Theater becuase of the repetition and the various “characters” that help Santa on his journey. Students could act out the parts, while a few take turns being the “narrator”. Older classes could perform for their buddies.
Additional Christmas Classics for reading and sharing:
Below are some of the other favorite holiday classics from my collection. Hoping there are one or two you can add to yours! All make amazing read-aloud to share with your class or your loved ones at home.
Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? – Jan Brett
In her classic detailed Nordic style, Jan Brett tells a delightful tale of a young boy from Finland and his ice bear who help to scare away a group of trolls who are coming to gobble up a Christmas feast. This book is a wonderful read-aloud, great for predicting and questioning. My son would laugh every time I got to the line “Have a bit of sausage, kitty!” These trolls certainly won’t be knocking again next Christmas!
The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher – Robert Kraus (author of Leo the Late Bloomer)
This book was first published in 1969 and was one of my favorites when I was younger. I sadly did not keep a copy of the book but was thrilled to see it re-issued. This book is such a fun read-aloud. Great rhyming patterns which sound rather “Grinch” like at times. While the villagers are sleeping, the Cookie Sprinkler Snitcher comes and steals all the cookie sprinkles so the mothers cannot decorate their Christmas cookies in the morning! Lots of great connections for those of us who love to decorate those Christmas cookies!
Little Robin’s Christmas– by Jan Fearnly
This book was first published under the title “Little Robin Red Vest”. It is a sweet story of a generous robin who has a vest for every day of the week. But leading up to Christmas, he gives away each one of his vests to different chilly friends who need something to keep warm. By the time Christmas arrives, poor Robin has no vest and begins to freeze on the rooftop… when a surprise visitor delivers a special gift. I love this book – it is a tender story with a message of sharing and kindness.
Little Tree – e.e. cummings
“Little tree little silent Christmas tree you are so little you are more like a flower who found you in the green forest and were you very sorry to come away” This book is an illustrated version of e.e. cumming’s beautiful Christmas poem about a brother and a sister who find a tree in the streets and bring it home. While they are walking home with it, they speak to the tree, asking it questions and comforting it. This is a favorite of mine – the illustrations are soft and calming and the tenderness in which the children care for the tree is heartfelt.
The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
Long before “graphic novels” had made their debut, Raymond Briggs brought us this classic wordless picture book which is written in the style of a graphic novel. This charming story depicts a young boy’s adventure with a snowman who comes to life one night in his dreams. The book has been turned into a Christmas “wordless” cartoon set to music that is apparently as classic in the UK is as the Grinch is in North America. This story is magical, whimsical, delightful. I have a “The Snowman” stuffy that plays the music from the movie – that’s how much I love this book. Also comes in a board book.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss. (first published in 1957 – and still going strong!)
No list of Christmas classics would be complete without the Grinch. Every Who down in Whoville has memorized this amazing story of the true meaning of Christmas. And in an age of outrageous consumerism – it’s a good one to revisit and remind ourselves that what is most important at Christmas is not an upgraded bamboozle or cardinker – but being “heart to heart and hand in hand” with those we love. I read this story every year. I watch the TV show every year. I never will I tire of it.
The Polar Express – Chris VanAlsburg (1986 Caldecott winner)
This book is a holiday tradition in our house, as I’m sure it is in many homes. Every year, before my boys go to bed on Christmas eve, I read it aloud. They are young men now, but still sit enjoy this book on Christmas Eve. After reading the last page, I take out a small bell from my pocket and ring it – making sure that we can all still hear the sweet sound. I am all grown up but I can still hear the sound of the bell. Can you?
It’s Christmas, David! – David Shannon.
David Shannon wrote a book when he was five using the only two words he knew how to spell: “no” and “David”. When his mother passed along his keepsake box when he was an adult, he discovered the book… and the rest, as they say, is history! In this holiday version of the popular “David” series, we follow David as he snitches Christmas cookies and peeks in closets, and as usual, has trouble staying out of trouble! A delightful, funny read-aloud with lots of possibilities for “making connections”.
Christmas Cookies – Bite Size Holiday Lessons – Amy Krouse Rosenthal
In these “Cookie” books, Amy Krouse Rosenthal cleverly uses the analogy of making and eating cookies to define and illustrate important concepts such as respect, trustworthiness, patience, politeness, loyalty, etc. The book reads a little like a dictionary – each page sharing a new word and example. In this Christmas Cookies version, she includes holiday-related words like joy, patience, believe, celebrate, peace and tradition. One of the things I love about Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books is how simple they are – and this one is a perfect example – she incorporates larger words that indirectly teaches children the meaning through the text. This book is a perfect Christmas read-aloud in a classroom and would also make a wonderful holiday gift! Adorable illustrations!
The Christmas Quiet Book – Deborah Underwood
How many different kinds of quiet leading up to Christmas are there? How about – “Searching for presents quiet,” “Getting caught quiet”, “Hoping for a snow day quiet” and the “shattered ornament quiet“. I made connections to every page! I loved the original The Loud Book and The Quiet Book so again, was excited to see the Christmas version. The illustrations in this book are adorable – soft, gentle and quiet. LOVE this book!
Snowmen at Christmas– Carolyn and Mark Buehner
In this delightful follow-up to the popular Snowmen at Night, we follow snowman on a Christmas adventure while the rest of the world is sleeping. The illustrations are magical – every time I read the book I see something new! A wonderful, fun read that would lead to great art and writing activities.
Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas – Melanie Watt
Christmas would not be complete without Scaredy Squirrel! My students have grown to love his insecurities, his worries, his cheesy grin and all his fears. This holiday safety guide is filled with practical tips and step by step instructions to help readers prepare for a perfect Christmas, Scaredy style! From making Christmas crafts to dressing “holiday style” to choosing the perfect tree – this witty, laugh out loud book will delight Scaredy fans everywhere! I love using these books to teach students about text features – labels, maps, fact boxes! Have your students create a “Scaredy Squirrel” version of “How To” instructions for their favorite holiday activity!
Carl’s Christmas – Alexander Day
The “Carl” books were, for me, my first real experience with the wordless picture book genre. The original Good Dog, Carl book was published in 1996. The premise of the books is a Rottweiler named Carl who is left in charge of the baby while the parents go out. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but somehow, it works. Day’s illustrations require no words – they tell the story seamlessly. In this book, Carl and baby prepare for Christmas, go shopping, do some Christmas baking and have a reindeer encounter! My boys LOVED Carl books when they were younger. If you have never read a Carl book – you are missing something special!
The Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet & Allan Ahlberg
The Jolly Postman is back again, this time on Christmas Eve. He is off on his rounds where we meet some familiar characters and some new ones. When reading this to my class, they loved to identify who the characters were and who they thought he would visit next. A delightful interactive book – filled with traditional rhymes with new witty twists..and beautiful illustrations. Most of the letters contain activities for the children to do such as a game or jigsaw etc. Such fun!
How did Santa end up with all those reindeer and why are there eight of them? Do they like living at the North Pole? This origin story by the author of Red and Lulu will answer all of those questions and more. Absolutely stunning illustrations. This book has been mentioned in several best-of-the-year lists. A great book for “Knew-New’s”!!!
Red and Lulu – Matt Tavares
This recent addition to my Christmas collection is absolutely stunning. A male and female cardinal get separated when the giant tree they call home is cut down and hauled away. Red (the male cardinal) follows the truck to find Lulu (the female), but he can’t fly that fast and loses sight of it. The countryside turns to a city scape, and that’s where a reunion, traditions, and new beginnings are found. Beautiful, touching story about perseverance and love.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope this lesson brings you some Christmas joy!
Stay tuned for upcoming posts with some holiday book gifting ideas!
Wishing you and your loved ones near and far a VERY happy and WELL DESERVED holiday. Look after yourself and enjoy the magic of the season. Happy Holidays, everyone!