Have a Dickens of a Christmas!

We all know that last week before Christmas vacation can be a real bugger in the classroom. The kids get so worked up about yule logs and gingerbread houses (or, more truly, about the L.O.L. Doll Box or Nintendo Switch under the tree), they’re no longer able to see straight, let alone sit still for a geometry test. You can have one Dickens of a Christmas, though, by adding a couple holiday plays to your Santa letters and holiday art projects.

Charles Dickens, of course, is the undisputed master of Christmas-oriented literature, so allow me to share with you some nifty class plays based on his life and work.

Whether you plan to fully enact it or just play around with it during language arts class, my traditional, kid-friendly version of a Christmas Carol is a great place to start. Challenging for 3rd, but great for 4th-6th graders. If you want to take things a bit further, consider creating a movie version, or merely having your students adapt the play to their liking. A few years ago my fifth graders added extra dialogue, a few additional scenes, and a contemporary setting to my script to make this lovely sixteen minute film. Use it as an introduction to your work on the play (it’ll really motivate your students) or as a follow-up compare and contrast activity.

Consider pairing Scrooge with ol’ Gabriel Grub. This script is a spooky, Christmas tale about a grumpy grave digger who is dragged away on Christmas Eve by a group of wretched goblins. It’ll scare the dickens out of the younger kids, but your fourth through eighth graders will find it a fun and fascinating comparison to Scrooge. You can check out a radio pod cast my students created by clicking here.

Another Dickens classic comes from his novel, Great Expectations. My original play depicts the opening chapters. Though not explicitly about Christmas, it takes place on Christmas Eve when the orphaned Pip encounters an escaped convict on the marshes. It’s full of angst and adventure, but best suited for 6th through 9th graders (though a talented or motivated group of 5th graders could probably handle it, too.

Along with any of these, you simply must try my wonderful play about Charles Dickens’ childhood, Escape from the Blacking House. I think a great triple play Christmas show would use Blacking House as an introduction to Grub and Scrooge. But even if you merely want your kids to have more engaging access to some holiday stories, these plays are great just for in-class reading. (Build fluency be reading them twice.) All these plays, along with The Gift of a Magi and others, are available on my TpT storefront.

So if you want to have a great week before the vacation, put away that geometry test. Show your Christmas spirit with some holiday plays.

Happy directing!

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