The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: Teacher's Guide
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - A Guide for Teachers and Parents
"One of the best Christmas books ever," says Publishers weekly about by Barbara Robinson. I agree. My kids love this book and I do too. It's a fantastic selection for a family or classroom read-aloud around Christmas time. Besides being clever, funny, and emotionally moving, this book forces the reader to throw out the tired Christmas conventions and see the wonderful story of Christmas with new eyes. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
As a teacher, I like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for its vocabulary, the narrator's point of view, potential for spinoff projects, essays, and discussions, and the way it unpretentiously teaches empathy and compassion. If you haven't read this excellent book, borrow it from a friend or the library, read it in a sitting at the bookstore, or buy your own copy. You'll be glad you did.
(Photo by Kurt Magoon, CC2.0)
Have you Read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?"
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Plot Summary - Spoiler warning: full synopsis
The Herdmans are six scrawny children ( Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie and Gladys) who are notorious delinquents in their community. Among other things, they lie, steal, smoke cigars (even the girls!), swear, and hit little kids. The kids basically raise themselves. Their father walked out when the youngest was two years old, and their mother works double shifts at the shoe factory.
The story is narrated by Beth Bradley, a girl in Imogene Herdman's class. Beth's brother, Charlie, unwisely lies to Leroy Herdman, saying that he doesn't mind Leroy stealing his dessert at school because Charlie gets all the snacks he wants at Sunday School. This leads to all six Herdmans showing up at church the next Sunday for the first time in their lives.
Beth's mother is put in charge of the Christmas pageant when the original leader, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, fells and breaks her leg. The announcement for the auditions happens to be on the day the Herdmans show up at church, and, avid movie fans that they are, the Herdman's volunteer (and threaten) their way into all six of the main parts.
In spite of the Herdmans never having heard the Christmas story before (and wanting to change the script so they can hunt down the evil King Herod) and in spite of never making it through a complete rehearsal, the show does go on and turns out to be, as everyone says, the best Christmas pageant they have ever seen. Nobody can put a finger on the precise reason, but it has to do with the fact that the Herdmans just act like real people, probably like the characters in the Bible story really were, rather than the radiant, haloed saints that are usually protrayed. (Adapted from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on Wikipedia.)
I rank "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" right up there with O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi" and Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as the best Christmas read-alouds ever. Click through and read the first few pages. I'm sure you'll agree.
Unto you a child is born!"
Can't Get Enough of the Herdmans? - More books with characters from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
These aren't as popular as The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but give them a chance. If you've read one of these, please share your impressions in the guest book.
"A dangerous, shifty, fearless, cigar-smoking family of thieves and fight-instigators, the horrible Herdmans are distributed one per grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, and it is unclear whether junior high or jail will be their next step. Sixth-grader Beth Bradley, the narrator, has the misfortune of drawing Imogene Herdman's name for a class project in which students must think of "Compliments for Classmates" at the end of the year. How will she find something good to say about Imogene? Just as the Herdmans discover something about the meaning of Christmas in the first book, Beth and her classmates realize that there is good in everyone-even in Imogene Herdman." -from the School Library Journal Review on amazon.com.
"The Herdmans are back and still causing havoc. This large family of ruffians has terrorized the community in the past by turning on the sprinklers and nearly drowning all the turkeys, spray painting kids, stealing cakes, and making kids buy back their own candy. This time, in an effort to avoid the inevitable Herdman-induced chaos of the Halloween activities, Principal Crabtree proposes that the celebration be held at the school, under the watchful eyes of parents and teachers. The kids are bummed because it will be a trick-or-treatless night, and they would rather face the Herdmans on the street than miss the candy. However, the Herdmans manage to turn the event into a disaster for the adults, and the best Halloween ever for the children." -from the School Library Journal Review on amazon.com.
Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Activities, Lesson Plans, and Projects - Extend the learning in your home or classroom
Below you will find activities, lesson plans, unit study ideas, vocabulary/spelling words and more, all related to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The book is under 100 pages and contains seven chapters. There are many ways to schedule the reading and activities, but one possibility is to read a chapter a day, beginning in early December, working on vocabulary all along, and then do some bigger activities right before winter break. (Photo by Kurt Magoon)
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Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Online Resources for Teachers - Find essay questions, vocabulary exercises, activities and more
- University of Missouri's collection of links to "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" activities and lesson
These sites provide activities to go along with the book "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson. Includes lesson plans, discussion questions, and classroom activities
- "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" activities on Teachervison
"Best Christmas Pageant Ever" essay topics, project ideas, grammar work and tests. This is a membership site but you can see five resources for free before signing up.
Quick Activity Idea
Rewrite a scene from the book, but narrate it from Imogene Herdman's point of view.
A Guide for Using "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" in the Classroom - Recommended Resource for Teachers
"I haven't personally used this book, but I have been pleased with everything I've tried from its publisher, Teacher Created Resources. Here's the product description on amazon.com.
This resource is directly related to its literature equivalent and filled with a variety of cross-curricular lessons to do before, during, and after reading the book. This reproducible book includes sample plans, author information, vocabulary building ideas, cross-curriculum activities, sectional activities and quizzes, unit tests, and ideas for culminating and extending the novel."
Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Vocabulary and Spelling Words
Create your own list or borrow someone else's
Spellingcity.com is a wonderful free site to learn spelling and vocabulary words. You can build your own list or choose from one of thousands of teacher-submitted lists. Here is one of ten lists of spelling words from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. You can print the word lists, or use the site for drills, games and tests.
Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Script - Feeling ambitious? Put on a performance
"Comedy / All Groups / 4m, 6f, plus 8 boys and 9 girls In this hilarious Christmas tale, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids - probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won't believe the mayhem - and the fun - when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on! This delightful comedy is adapted from the best selling book and the only story ever to run twice in McCall's Magazine." -from the amazon.com product description
Author Study: Barbara Robinson
Learn more about the creator of the Herdmans
Author Barbara Robinson grew up in a small town on the Ohio River. Her father died when she was young and her mother, who raised her with the help of friends and relatives, instilled in her a love for books. She began writing very early, and besides her books for children, has wrote poems and short stories. The beloved author died in 2013.