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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Teacher Guide by Becky Harvey

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for A Christmas Carol Include:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is set in Victorian England. It is a story of a broken man whose wealth has become his only passion in life. As a young man, Ebenezer Scrooge had love and family in his life, but after many setbacks, he lost the desire to be part of society, part of a family, and in essence, a caring human being. One lonely and cold Christmas Eve, Scrooge goes to bed and is “visited” by four ghosts: his old (deceased) business partner, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future. After an eye-opening adventure, traveling through time and memories, as well as a chillingly, frighteningly lonely visit to his potential future, Scrooge sees the error of his miserly ways and wakes up Christmas morning a new man, full of life, love and excitement to share his wealth and company with the people with whom he shares his life.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Brief A Christmas Carol Summary

In Victorian England, Ebenezer Scrooge is a wealthy, old man, well known to his family and work associates as a stingy and cold-hearted person. Much to the chagrin of Scrooge’s nephew, who relentlessly tries to find the good in him, Scrooge consistently turns up his nose at invitations to join the family for celebrations with a sterile, “Bah! Humbug!” Also very affected by Scrooge’s harsh ways is Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s assistant at his money-lending shop. Scrooge is so stingy with his money that he wont allow Cratchit to add coal to the fire, despite the freezing weather.

As the story begins, we learn that Scrooge’s long-time partner, Jacob Marley, has recently died. After a brief introduction to Scrooge’s miserly ways, we see Scrooge go to his home and prepare for bed. While dozing in his chair, Scrooge is awakened by Marley - or more precisely - his ghost. Marley is there to warn Scrooge of what his future will be like, should he not mend his ways and open his heart to the people in his life. Marley tells Scrooge to expect visits throughout the night from three spirits.

The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmases Past, shows Scrooge scenes from his life as a younger man. Scrooge, though holding on to his “Bah! Humbug!” ways, is visibly moved by visions of his family, and of his past love and once fiancee. Despite his attempts to interact with his much happier past, the ghost will not allow it, and he is, all too soon, returned to his bedroom to await the next visit.

The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, shows what is happening currently with the families of his nephew, and his employee, Cratchit. Scrooge witnesses the hardships that the Cratchit family is going through, including not having enough money for a proper Christmas meal, and the illness of the youngest son, Tiny Tim. Despite all, Tim makes a toast to Mr. Scrooge. Scrooge also sees his nephew’s Christmas celebration where the nephew’s wife talks about how awful Scrooge is, but the nephew sticks up for his uncle. Scrooge is shocked by what he witnesses. But again, questions go unanswered and he is returned to his bed to await his final visit.

Unlike the previous visitations, the Ghost of Christmas Future is fearsome and foreboding. He doesn’t show Scrooge anything heartwarming or touching, rather, he shows him where he will wind up if he doesn’t return to the way he was as a young man. Without a word spoken, the spirit is able to convey that Scrooge is bound to die an unloved, unhappy man, who is remembered as a horrible human being if he continues on his present course. Scrooge is terrified to the point of realizing that he has lost the joy of love and friendship in his life.

Waking with a start, Scrooge doesn’t lose a step. He immediately is reborn, a new man with a generous and joyful attitude. He doesn’t hesitate to purchase the largest turkey in the shop for Bob Cratchit and his family’s Christmas dinner, happily shocking the entire group. Scrooge also surprises his nephew with a surprise visit, an invitation which he has repeatedly declined.

The story ends with a feeling of redemption for someone who started out life joyfully enough, but through time and toil changed into a “Scrooge”.


Essential Questions for A Christmas Carol

  1. How do interpersonal relationships cause changes in people?
  2. Do others see us more clearly than we see ourselves?
  3. How can appealing to emotion, logic, and/or authority be used to persuade?

A Christmas Carol Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram | A Christmas Carol Summary


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the book in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example A Christmas Carol Plot Diagram

Exposition

Scrooge bah-humbugs Christmas, refusing to give to charity, and generally being a miserable miser.


Conflict

The ghost of Scrooge’s late partner, Joseph Marley, warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits.


Rising Action

Scrooge visits with the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Christmas Present, who show Scrooge the joys of the Christmas season, and how he is missing out on life.


Climax

Scrooge is shown his own grave, and the grave of Tiny Tim, by the Ghost of Christmas Future.


Falling Action

Scrooge attempts to set right his miserly ways with generosity and repentance for his bah-humbugging.


Resolution

Scrooge sits down to Christmas dinner at his nephew’s, and he lived happily the rest of his days with Christmas in his heart.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of A Christmas Carol.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Cause and Effect in Connecting to Text/Connecting to Self | A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge changes as he ages. Once a loving, caring young man, Scrooge grows callous and crotchety. Loss in his life leads him to feel sorry for himself, and he soon starts making decisions that he feels will keep him from feeling pain. These choices often lead to a lifestyle that precludes him from having friends and relationships. After the death of his business partner, Marley, who was also governed by greed, Scrooge is visited by him and the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. These ghosts show Scrooge how his life has unfolded, with his decisions driving how he would manage relationships, or more precisely, avoid having any. Scrooge realizes how empty his life is, and decides that it is never too late to make changes. He awakes on Christmas morning, a new man. Because of the things which the ghosts have shown him, he changes how he relates to people.

Students should take this opportunity to select something in Scrooge's past that caused him to act the way he does. (Identify the underlying cause and effect of Scrooge's miserly callousness.) They should then figure out how something in their past has caused them to act in a particular way. Maybe they were stung by a bee when they were young, so now they have an overwhelming fear of bees.

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A Christmas Carol - Conflict


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There are many instances of conflict within A Christmas Carol. Some are internal, where the character has conflicting feelings within himself (Man vs. Self). Others are external, where a character has an argument or fight with another character (Man vs. Man). There might also be other types: Man vs. Society, or Man vs. Nature. Show an example of both internal and external conflict from the story.

Literary Conflict Example in A Christmas Carol

Internal Conflict: MAN vs. SELF

Scrooge visits his nephew's Christmas celebration with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and he experiences the push and pull between his greed and his old memories of joyous family time with his sister.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows at least three forms of literary conflict in A Christmas Carol.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify conflicts in A Christmas Carol.
  3. Categorize each conflict as Character vs. Character, Character vs. Self, Character vs. Society, Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Technology.
  4. Illustrate conflicts in the cells, using characters from the story.
  5. Write a short description of the conflict below the cell.
  6. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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A Christmas Carol Making Predictions

Making predictions about a story will engage readers. In order to make a prediction, a student will need to consider the many elements that they have read already: setting, plot development so far, character actions, and character motivations/traits.

Before completing the story, predict how Scrooge's life will change (for the better or for worse) after his encounters with the three spirits of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. You may also make other predictions, for other characters; i.e. Will Marley’s ghost ever find peace? What will happen to Tiny Tim? Will Scrooge change his ways and find love?

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A Christmas Carol Character Map Graphic Organizer


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There are quite a number of characters in this story. As it is often read in the form of a drama (play) it can be especially good to delve into the different characters and see what makes them tick. Use this storyboard to record information about each character. Dig deeply to figure out what their beliefs and interests might be. Use their actions, as well as their words, to figure them out.


Ebenezer Scrooge

Traits: miserly, lonesome, greedy, cheerless, heartless


Beliefs: family and friendship are a waste of time and that people will only let him down


Interests: making money and being left alone


Quote that Shows Personality: "Bah! Humbug!"


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.


  1. Identify the major characters in A Christmas Carol and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character from the "1600s to 1800s" tab to represent each of the literary characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in Textables for Traits, Interests, Beliefs, and Quote that Shows Personality.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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A Christmas Carol Vocabulary Lesson Plan


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In this activity, students can create vocabulary boards to go with A Christmas Carol. Students can create visual vocabulary boards using the context clues from the book to depict their understanding of the words. They can also depict the meaning of the words without pictures or use the words in another context.

Choose from the list of vocabulary words below (all of which can be found in Dickens' A Christmas Carol). Use the storyboards to create a visual definition of the word.


Example A Christmas Carol Vocabulary

  • implore
  • morose
  • humbug
  • ponderous
  • deliquesce
  • covetous
  • propriety
  • facetious
  • reconcile
  • destitute
  • sordid
  • donned
  • doffed
  • bedlam
  • meager
  • threadbare
  • apparition
  • capacious
  • misanthropic
  • penitent
  • recumbent

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in A Christmas Carol by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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•   (English) A Christmas Carol   •   (Español) Un Villancico   •   (Français) Un Chant de Noel   •   (Deutsch) Ein Weihnachtslied   •   (Italiana) Un Canto Natalizio   •   (Nederlands) Een Kerstlied   •   (Português) Um Natal Carol   •   (עברית) מזמור לחג המולד   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) كارول عيد الميلاد   •   (हिन्दी) एक क्रिसमस गान   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Рождественская Песня   •   (Dansk) En Julesang   •   (Svenska) En Jullåt   •   (Suomi) Joululaulu   •   (Norsk) En Julesang   •   (Türkçe) Noel Şarkısı   •   (Polski) Kolęda   •   (Româna) Un Colind de Crăciun   •   (Ceština) Vánoční Koleda   •   (Slovenský) Vianočná Koleda   •   (Magyar) A Christmas Carol   •   (Hrvatski) Božićna Pjesma   •   (български) Коледна Песен   •   (Lietuvos) Kalėdų Giesmė   •   (Slovenščina) A Christmas Carol   •   (Latvijas) Ziemassvētku Dziesma   •   (eesti) Jõululaul