‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house… we were having a quick poetry lesson before bed!
The Night Before Christmas wasn’t actually written as a book, of course, but as a poem, with a classic AABB rhyme scheme (lines 1 and 2 rhyme, and lines 3 and 4 rhyme). Thus it’s a great work for talking with kids about Christmas traditions, how Christmas has changed over the years, and for a mini poetry lesson, too.
First we read the book, and then laughed as we turned the pages along to a version sung by the University of Utah choir.
As we read, I paused over vocabulary that was old-fashioned or unfamiliar to Travis, words like sash, prancing, lustre, and stirring. He instantly pinpointed that the poem was old-fashioned, based on the drawings and the language. We discussed how this “Saint Nick” differed from the Santa Claus he’s familiar with.
Do a close reading of the poem, asking questions like: ‘who were the characters’ (“The kids, the mom, the dad, and Santa Claus!”) and ‘what happens in the middle’ (“The sleigh appears!”) etc.
Then we went through and identified some of the rhymes, like house and mouse. I gave him a word from the poem (for example ‘bed’) and challenged him to come up with his own rhymes.
Big kids can go on from here to write their own holiday poem. For my kindergartner, I simply helped Travis compose a silly line or two about our family holidays.
Fun extensions might include acting out the poem before bed!