Monday, January 3, 2011

Unit Study: Dickensian Christmas! and so we finish:

Well, since we are pretty much finished with Christmas break (we'll start back up on Wednesday ....), I thought I would post an update on our Dickensian unit:
1.  books read:  we read four of the five books in our collection ...
  • A Christmas Carol; and watched a couple of different versions:  Alistair Sims as Scrooge (excellent as only he can be!), George C. Scott as Scrooge (pretty darn good althought Scott is a bit too healthy), Disney's animated take (with the voice of Jim Carrey and surprisingly good if a bit scary -- too spooky for little ones?).  The writing in this one is marvelous to read-aloud and the story is classic!  We thought the best film version (that is, closest to Dickens' words) would have to be, surprisingly, the Disney version!
  • The Chimes; and watched a claymation version (only 28 minutes) that was fabulous!  Actually kept to the story and especially the message of the book.  This is a great story that is often overlooked in Dickens' collections -- well worth reading ... and reading aloud to the kids makes the story come alive for them.
  • The Cricket on the Hearth ; we watched an animated version of this done in the 70s that only kept the title and a few characters' names but otherwise was NOTHING like the original story, which was GREAT!  This was a bit rough -- had to plow our way thru the first section ... than Dickens had us and we were hooked!
  • The Battle of Life; maybe, since this was our fourth Dickens book and Christmas was waning, the kids (and I) didn't like this as much as the other three.  It's a good story, just a bit yawn-inducing ... obviously Dickens was getting paid by the quantity and not necessarily the quality of his writing on this one.
The kids balked at reading yet another meaningful Dickens novel, The Haunted Man, and since it was just after Christmas, I decided to wait on that one ... maybe spring it on them next year?  We also ate VERY British Christmas delicacies including roasted chesnuts, sherried fruit cake (which I loved but the kids could take or leave), and other delicacies.  We also read "Pickwick's Christmas" (chapter 28 of the Pickwick Papers)  and watched BBC's Pickwick Papers; this is a marvelous version of the book and we really came to love Pickwick and his cohorts.  And no Christmas would be complete without watching the Christmas show from BBC's All Creatures Great and Small (season 2, episode 14)... Sigfried decides to have a real old-fashioned Christmas with holly and mistletoe and all the trimmings and is able to slip in a prank on Tristan; classic!

We hope you enjoyed your Advent and Christmas units ... any suggestions for a theme for next year?

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