Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas In The Country by Cynthia Rylant - Teaching Ideas

Christmas in the country consists of a freshly cut tree, that is too big for the room, favorite Christmas ornaments and family. 

This book is a sweet story showing the simple country style of a family Christmas and how the simplest things can make Christmas extra special.

This book is definitely one that should be shared during the Christmas season and if you do share it with your class, use the following ideas, skills and strategies to make it a meaningful lesson as well. 

I have created a Skills and Strategies packet to go with the book if you  want to dig deeper and make the story more than just a Christmas story.

Reading level: 2.9
Theme/subject: Family, Christmas
Genre: Christmas

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: coal stove, can apples, mothballs, saucer, and commotion, hauled

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder if Christmas in the country is different than Christmas in the city. {possible questions during} I wonder why the girl lived with her grandparents. I wonder why they got a tree that barely fits in their room. {possible questions after}  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – first person. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (I, we, my).
  • Author's purpose – entertain {evidence} The illustrations are beautiful water colors. The girl loved to wait for Christmas. The Christmas tree was too big for the house. All these things make a very nice story that was also entertaining.
  • Beginning, middle, end – {most important event from beginning} The girl and her grandparents were getting ready for Christmas. {most important event from middle} The family decorated the Christmas tree. {most important event from end} The girl got the doll she wanted from Santa.
  • Cause and effect – Why is the country so quiet in the winter? Because the snow slows everything down. Why would grandfather take his ax to the woods behind the house? So he could chop down a Christmas tree. Why would grandmother and the girl pull out boxes of old ornaments? So they could decorate the Christmas tree. Why does the girl love the ornaments? Because each ornament reminded her of her whole life. Why would everyone have to squeeze around the living room? Because grandfather would bring home a Christmas tree that was a little too big for the room. How come they couldn’t wait to turn on the Christmas tree lights at night? Because it was the prettiest thing they had. Why did the girl give her grandfather her tangerine? Because she knew he loved them. Why did the girl get a new doll from Santa? Because that is what she really wanted. Why were the cookies and milk she left for Santa gone? Because Santa liked / ate it all. Why was the church service short on Christmas morning? Because the preacher knew that the children wanted to be at home playing with their toys. Why were the dogs barking so much on Christmas? Because there was so much commotion in the house.
  • Character analysis - describe the girl. Describe the family. {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Compare & contrast – compare and contrast your Christmas with the girl and her grandparents’ Christmas.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} living with your grandparents. Cutting your Christmas tree from the woods. Going to church on Christmas Eve. Writing a letter to Santa. Leaving milk and cookies for Santa. Finding Santa’s milk and cookies gone on Christmas morning.
  • Drawing conclusion – Why did the girl ask her grandparents to help her see what Santa brought her? {what I know} At home I always open my gifts from Santa with my family around. {my conclusion} I think the girl asked her grandparents to help her see what Santa brought because she wanted to see the presents with her grandparents there.
  • Fact & opinion{fact} The girl lived with her grandparents. Grandfather cut the Christmas tree down from the woods behind the house. Grandmother and the girl got boxes of ornaments from the closet. Grandmother helps the girl write a letter to Santa. The girl got exactly what she wanted for Christmas; a doll. {opinion} Everyone was ready for Christmas. Everything slows down when it snows. Christmas trees are the prettiest thing at Christmastime. A new doll is the best Christmas present to get. Everyone should have ham for Christmas dinner.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} the story is mostly about the girl and her grandparents getting ready for Christmas. {details} Grandfather cut down a tree from the woods at the back of the house. Grandmother and the girl pulled boxes of ornaments from the closet. Grandmother helped the girl write a letter to Santa.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? What is everyone ready for? What kind of tree do you think grandfather will bring home? What will the girl and her grandparents do when they get home from church? What do you think the girl asked Santa for? Will Santa eat and drink the milk and cookies?
  • Sequencing – In the winter the girl waited for Christmas. Grandfather went to the woods to find a  Christmas tree. Grandmother and the little girl got the ornaments. Grandfather brought home a tree that was too big. On Christmas Eve they went to church. All the kids sang a Christmas carol. The girl wrote a letter to Santa and went to bed. The little girl and her grandparents woke up to see what Santa brought. The little girl brought her new doll to church. Family came over. It was time to take down the Christmas tree.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – the little girl thinks the tree is the prettiest thing they had. Think about how your house is decorated this time of year, what do think the prettiest thing is in your house?
  • Visualize – The little girl got exactly what she wanted for Christmas, a new doll. Visualize what you think Santa will get you for Christmas.
The Picture Book Teacher's Edition Christmas In The Country Preview

You can pick this packet up from my TpT store.

Happy teaching!
The Picture Book Teacher

1 comment :

  1. I love any book by Cynthia Rylant!
    Nancy B. Pierce @


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