Work on Listening Skills with a Christmas Treat

Work on Listening Skills with a Christmas Treat

For a real festive delight, Clement C. Moore’s A Visit from St Nicholas, better known as T’was the Night Before Christmas, is wonderful when spoken aloud in class. Tell your pupils to listen carefully to this magical poem and then ask them the questions below to see how much detail they have taken in.

The Poem:

T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”


Q1. How long ago do you think the poem was written? 1822

Q2. Can you find clues in the poem that let you know it is set long ago? Language, clothing, windows, etc

Q3. How does St Nicholas’ appearance differ from how we think of Father Christmas today? Dressed in furs, little, lively and quick

Q4. How is he similar? White beard, plump, rosy cheeks, twinkly eyes

Q5. How many different types of animals does the poem mention? Three – mouse, reindeer, eagle

Q6. Can you remember the names of all of the reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen

Q7. How many pairs of rhymes can you remember? 28: house and mouse, care and there, beds and heads, cap and nap, clatter and matter, flash and sash, snow and below, appear and reindeer, quick and Nick, came and name, Vixen and Blitzen, wall and all, fly and sky, flew and too, roof and hoof, around and bound, foot and soot, back and pack, merry and berry, bow and snow, teeth and wreath, belly and jelly, elf and myself, head and dread, work and jerk, nose and rose, whistle and thistle, sight and night

Q8. What was your favourite part of the poem?

Q9. What happens in your house the night before Christmas?


Especially for Christmas, why don’t you write your own version of the poem. In addition, you could add some of the traditions that you and your family do on Christmas Eve?

Finally, when you have completed this, listen to the beautiful recording of the poem on YouTube, narrated by Perry Como.

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