Today I’m excited to share 7 fun ways to use A Christmas Carol for holiday learning! Here you’ll find all kinds of ideas and activities to put together a fun unit study around the theme of A Christmas Carol. After all, reading this story together with your family at Christmas is a great way to celebrate the season, and there’s no need for your kids to know they’re doing something educational, right?!
Like many other people who love all things cozy, I look forward to the holiday season with unbridled enthusiasm. Cold weather, good cheer, abundant twinkle lights, Christmas music, and wearing all of the sweaters that I’ve spent the last 11 months collecting (despite the fact that I live in the South, where it’s hot most of the time). And for me, there’s not much that could be cozier than putting some festive fuzzy socks on my feet, making some hot chocolate, and cuddling up with a good book. Luckily, because we homeschool, I’m allowed to bring that whole vibe into educational activities….from November- January, if I so please!
If you’d like to loosen up the schedule a little bit around the holidays to enjoy some extra Christmas-y homeschool days (while still doing some important learning), then I hope today’s post will give you some inspiration that you can get excited about for diving into this classic work of literature. You’ll find ideas to go with several subjects to make it easy for you to create your own unit study centered around A Christmas Carol.
Why Read A Christmas Carol?
There are many fantastic books that you may choose to read with your family throughout the holiday season (here’s a list of some other good ones). However, A Christmas Carol is a great choice for a longer study for several reasons!
1. It’s accessible to a wide variety of ages, from elementary to adult!
Though Dickens’s writing may be a bit antiquated to the modern ear, younger listeners can still find this book easy to understand. A Christmas Carol is not a long book, and it can be read as a play. Also, there are a plethora of different film versions that you can turn into part of your study so that readers of all ages will better understand the plot and premise of the book. And yes, obviously this includes The Muppet Christmas Carol. (In my humble opinion, you are not doing this thing right if you don’t include Kermit.)
2. It is a classic work and a “living book!”
Charles Dickens is one of the great classic authors that your child(ren) will doubtless encounter in high school or college (especially if they have an interest in literature), and A Christmas Carol is a very fun and accessible introduction to his writing. A Christmas Carol is also what Charlotte Mason would call “a living book,” because it’s an important story that teaches many things at once. Among other things, young readers of this book will learn about the setting of Victorian England while also being challenged to consider some big ideas that still speak to the heart today!
3. There are many ways you can use this book to facilitate other types of learning!
Because of the setting and history of this beloved book, there are so many ways you can use it as a jumping-off point for holiday learning that will be interesting and fun for your family! Below, you’ll find 7 ways that you can use this classic story to inspire some meaningful – and fun – holiday learning in your homeschool!
7 Ways to Study A Christmas Carol as Part of Your Holiday Learning
1. READING/LITERATURE: Start by reading (and watching)!
The best way to start is by simply reading the book! A Christmas Carol is a great work to read aloud together as a family, and doing so could easily become one of your family’s new favorite holiday traditions!
Depending on the ages and reading levels in your home, you may want to designate a reader or assign “parts” to each family member and read it more like a play! When you’re done with the book – or even before you’ve finished- have some family movie nights to watch some different versions of the film.
As you read, you can compare how some film versions have made changes from the book and what key elements have stayed the same. Ask your kids what they notice about the setting, what questions they may have about Scrooge or his job (Moneylenders had a unique role in this time and place.) what themes do they notice? Which “ghost” do they like the best or the least and why? Just enjoy talking about the literature together and the things that make this story timeless!
If you want to watch one of the many versions of the movie, you’ll be glad to know you can find lots of them on YouTube. The one below is from 1951. (Please keep in mind that we always suggest watching before you allow your children to watch so you can be on the safe side!)
Or you might want to try the 1979 American version of the story.
You’ll also find YouTube versions from 1935, 1951, 1984, 1999, 2019, and animated versions. (I wasn’t kidding when I said there are lots of versions available!)
2. THEATER/PERFORMING ARTS: Get theatrical!
Got actors in the family? As I mentioned in the last point, this is a great book to read aloud! If you have a family of confident readers who love to imagine, why not make this element extra fun by getting a little bit theatrical?
After you’ve read through the book once, you could work on putting together your own mini-play production with costumes and music. Don’t forget to film it! Many theatres put on professional productions of A Christmas Carol around the holiday season, too, so you could also check out your area to see if that’s something your family can do together. A field trip that doubles as a fun holiday memory? You know that’s what we’re all about!
3. HISTORY: Have historical discussions.
Especially if your kids are a little bit older (upper elementary-high school) the Victorian-era setting of this book makes a great introduction for discussing some of the wildly pivotal changes that were going on in the Western world during this time! Topics you may want to dive into, depending on your kids’ ages:
- Queen Victoria
- Victorian culture and values
- The divide of class structure: the very poor, the very rich, and the emerging of a middle class
- The Victorian Workhouse/Poorhouse
- The Industrial Revolution
- British Imperialism in India
- The Abolishment of Slavery in England
You may want to research some information about the history of A Christmas Carol or look up specific topics (some are suggested above) related to it.
There are also some really good movies that you could watch if you plan to teach your kids a little more about the Victorian Era. One of my family’s favorites is 2018 The Man Who Invented Christmas. This PG-rated movie explores Dickens’s own life and how it possibly inspired A Christmas Carol. It’s also a good family holiday movie, particularly if your kids are a little bit older and ready to learn a little bit more about this time in history.
4. MORE HISTORY: Try out some Victorian Christmas traditions.
Did you know that many of the Christmas traditions we celebrate today actually come from Victorian England (AKA the setting of A Christmas Carol!)? Even decorating our Christmas trees can be traced to this period in time, when it became an English tradition due to Queen Victoria’s German husband, Albert! The Victorian era inspired a cultural movement towards family and family values, so it was during this time that people began to view Christmas as a family affair.
Of course, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol also heavily shaped the way people viewed Christmas (forever after!). Therefore, a great hands-on way to expand your study of A Christmas Carol – and decorate your house – is to explore some of the fun holiday crafts and traditions that emerged during the Victorian era. Below you’ll find a few of them.
You can also check out this resource for more instructions and ideas. You could spread these ideas out over the month of December or have A Christmas Carol-themed party and try several of them out at once!
And don’t forget you can tie this in with your own memories and traditions or begin some new traditions with your family! Try some of the ones listed below.
Victorian Christmas Crafts and Activities to Try:
- Craft beautiful hand-made Christmas cards for loved ones.
- Purchase or make your own Christmas Crackers! These are so much fun!
- Create your own DIY Victorian-style Christmas ornaments out of paper, lace, beads, and/or music sheets.
- Use oranges and cloves and ribbons to create decorative and heavenly-smelling pomander balls.
- Go caroling or play traditional Victorian parlor games with friends.
- String popcorn and cranberries to create a beautiful, traditional garland.
- Make Victorian-inspired treats like gingerbread men, sugar plums, or meat pies!
5. ART: Make A Christmas Carol-inspired art.
No matter what age your child (or children), art is always a good way to make all ages feel involved in holiday learning! Get inspired by the characters and themes in A Christmas Carol and create some fun art that goes with your study of this book. Below you’ll find a couple of specific ideas.
- Use scissors and hot glue to make felt puppets for Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts! Use them to act out the story. This would be a great craft idea for younger kids, especially!
- Ask your child(ren) to draw his/her own version of each of the three ghosts (and the things that they have to teach Scrooge).
- Have your child(ren) choose a favorite quote from this book, write it out carefully, and create a work of art around the quote! Use these as holiday decorations in your home!
- Make paper chains! These came into fashion during the Victorian era and are still used today. (P.S. – My family likes to make a paper chain to use to count down the days until Christmas. We begin on the first day of December and remove one piece of the chain each day until Christmas. Or you can use a Christmas Countdown printable if you’d rather!)
6. CREATIVE WRITING/HANDWRITING: Try a creative writing activity!
A Christmas Carol has been re-told and re-imagined so many times for a reason. Its classic characters and inspiring lessons can be translated into a variety of different creative forms! If you have a child who loves to imagine and create stories, a study on A Christmas Carol provides a really fun opportunity for some creative writing. Have your child brainstorm their own creative retelling of this tale that stays true to the original characters and overall themes!
7. COMMUNITY SERVICE: Do some acts of service.
Of course, a major part of this story is the lesson that Scrooge learns: the importance of having a heart that is warm, generous, and kind! After (or while) reading A Christmas Carol, you may want to talk to your kids about ways that they can do something good for others this holiday season. Many churches offer ways to give back to your local community, or even communities abroad, around Christmas time. Perhaps part of your study of A Christmas Carol could be coming up with ways to be intentionally kind and generous to those in need this season!
8. MORE SUBJECTS AND IDEAS: Try these extra ideas for ways to use A Christmas Carol for more holiday learning related to more subjects.
- Compare and contrast the movie with the book. Or you may want to compare and contrast one version of the movie with another. How has the story changed over time? Why do you think it’s changed?
- To incorporate science, look up information about Victorian discoveries and inventions.
- If you have young children, incorporate math with this fun Christmas Lights Pattern Pack.
- And include science by doing this Christmas Science Experiment: Borax Crystal Snowflakes.
- You’ll even find foreign language practice when you download and practice worksheets that help you learn how to say “Merry Christmas” in 14 languages. 🙂
- You’ll even be able to incorporate math into your study with these printable worksheets!
- NOTE: These math activities are for younger students, but you can involve middle schoolers and teens by having them teach younger siblings! There’s no better way to make sure a student completely understands a concept than by having him or her teach it to someone else.
Which of these ideas sounds like the best fit for your family? Will you incorporate A Christmas Carol into your own holiday learning? If you do, I know you’ll make some great memories together, cozied up with this classic holiday read! Merry Christmas (and “God bless us, every one!”)
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Katie Gustafson has been a member of the world of “weird, unsocialized homeschoolers” for a long time–first as an alumnus and now as a homeschooling mom to a fiercely fun little girl! She’s very into anything creative, especially writing, dancing, and painting. She’s also particularly passionate about literature and owns more books than she will probably ever be able to read. However, she reassures herself with the belief that, in the event of a digital apocalypse, she’s cultivating a much-needed physical library for future generations. Katie is happy to contribute articles to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Hip Homeschool Moms and Sparketh. She also has a personal blog on writewhereuare.com.