Do you struggle to keep your students focused on reading skills during the holiday season? Using high-interest teaching materials will greatly improve the chances that your students will continue to learn during this time when daydreaming becomes the norm. This post includes nine Christmas-themed animated shorts. All the films are very short with the longest-running just a few seconds over three minutes. This means when students become restless, you can show a film and complete the writing exercise in a short period of time.
The handout includes printable organizers for students to plan their writing responses as well as full-page answer keys. The handout also contains the link to the Google Slides version of the organizers for teachers who wish to use digital resources. You will also find links to all the animated shorts in the handout.
Teaching Theme, Summarizing, and Main Idea with Christmas Animated Shorts
In the first three films, students look at the “big picture.” Skills include theme, summarizing, and main idea.
In the film “What would Christmas be without love?” the story is told through a series of pictures while the viewer listens to the words of Alee Kinder’s song Rain to Snow. Questions on the handout help students determine the theme.
In “A Shorter Letter,” Tomas is upset because he does not get the toy car he wants for Christmas. Through a series of events, Tomas realizes that he will enjoy playing with the toys he does receive. The film ends with an interesting twist that will cause students to chuckle. For practice, students summarize this film.
The film “Lynx and Birds” is full of irony which will amuse your students. In this exercise, students must figure out the main idea along with supporting details. They also explain how irony is used to create humor.
Stories from Evergreen Hills
Chick-fil-A started creating an annual animated short film series titled Stories of Evergreen Hills in 2019. At this point, three films have been created. A new film is in the works for 2022.
The films feature a young girl named Sam. In each film, Sam is confronted with a problem that she solves by visiting a magical location.
In the first film “The Time Shop,” students list the character traits of Sam. They also define a number of idioms that contain the word “time” in them.
In the next film “The Spark,” Sam figures out how to get the lights of the town working and the town people to socialize. For the practice exercise, students explain the main problem Sam confronts and the series of steps she goes through to solve this problem.
In the 2021 film “The Whoopsery,” Sam and her friend CeCe go to an unusual bake shop to mend the Christmas ornament that CeCe accidentally breaks. For practice, students answer a series of questions in which they must recall details from the film.
Teaching Mood, Cause and Effect, and Problems and Solutions with Christmas Animated Shorts
In the short film “Stella: No One Should Be Alone at Christmas,” a crow helps Stella. Stella is lonely because her family is unable to visit her for Christmas. Students explain how the creators of the film set the mood.
“The Real Santa” is my favorite animated film in the group. In this story, a young boy faces many problems because of his usual beard. As he runs away, the audience learns how “the real Santa” came to be. Students list the effects of the problems.
The film “Believe in Christmas – Edgars Magic Night” features a lonely man who misses his family. This animated film is ideal to compare and contrast with “Stella: No One Should be Alone at Christmas.” Students determine how two lonely people are helped by outsiders.
If you missed the link for the handouts above, here it is again.
I hope you and yours students enjoy learning reading skills through this series of great short films!