Here’s how to use Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for rich high school learning.
How to Use Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for Rich High School Learning
Unit Studies are fun for the younger homeschool grades, but what can you do to bring various subjects together in high school?
Many homeschool parents would agree that it’s tougher to take a unit study approach in high school because of the depth of subject matter that needs to be covered or mastered for a high school transcript credit. But giving our high school students special mini-units of learning can be a great break from their regular school routines, and can also pack a LOT of education into a short period of time.
Here’s an example of how you might use Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for several types of learning. Log the hours you spend on the various activities and add them to the appropriate subject on your transcript as enrichment (for more on logging hours for Carnegie units of credit, click here).
Read the book.
It’s not very long, so it’s not overwhelming. It’s a familiar story, so it won’t frustrate reluctant readers. It’s Dickens; it’s a classic; it “counts” on a high school book list.
Watch one or more movie adaptations of the story.
There have been SO many movies made from this story! For a student interested in film (or one who needs fine arts hours), choose 3 or more movies and analyze the similarities and differences among them. Watch with family and friends. Make snacks. Make a night of it! But have lots of lively discussion about what worked well and what fell flat in each version.
Use our literature study guide to spark discussion.
Explore themes, characters, relationships, symbols and more. Write based on the ideas you discuss.
Watch the classic movie and discuss, using our cinema studies guide.
Get more background on the book with this fun post from author Will Hahn.
Look into the history of Scrooge’s London.
“Are there no prisons?” he asked. “And the Union workhouses?” “The Treadmill and the Poor Law?” These ideas are offered by Scrooge as a solution for the poor. Study about the wretched conditions of the poor in London in the mid-1800’s. Study about boarding schools. Learn how to play the many games mentioned in Stave III when Scrooge visits his nephew Fred’s house. Play them with family or friends.
Check out the food described in the story.
If your student is interested in culinary arts, find recipes and cook up a Dickensian Christmas dish or two!
Study the author.
Charles Dickens had a fascinating life. Read about him. Watch a good biographical video like this one.
A shilling…a farthing…a half-crown. Huh? Here’s a cool website that explains old English money.
Martha Cratchit worked for a milliner.
Do you have a student interested in fashion or sewing or design? Explore hat design, an important part of British fashion in the 1800’s. Start with this Vintage Fashion Guild website.
Sing carols of the day.
Scrooge turns away carolers who sing “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” What other carols would have annoyed Ebenezer as he walked the streets of London? Sing ’em out! Dickens called his story A Christmas CAROL because he wanted it to be “sung again and again” to fan the Christmas spirit into flame.
Hone your public speaking skills.
Dickens gave readings of his famous work (something many felt was beneath him), and was known for being dramatic and altogether wonderful. Can your student take a stab at a dramatic reading of part of A Christmas Carol? Public speaking is a very important skill to cultivate during the high school years.
John Leech provided the original illustrations for A Christmas Carol, four woodcuts and four hand-colored etchings. Learn more about these kinds of illustration.
Enjoy your Dickens Christmas!
Love Dickens so much that you want to read more? Check out our literature study guide to accompany A Tale of Two Cities.