This holiday, I'm sharing a beautiful legend called The Baker's Dozen A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard and Wendy Edelson. Aaron Shepard is an award winning author who wrote The Sea King's Daughter, The Legend of Lightning Larry and The Adventures of Mouse Deer. His website is known for being a resource for folktales, storytelling and reader's theater. You can visit his website at www.aaronshep.com. Aaron has even been published in Cricket magazine.
The story takes place in Dutch colonial New York. Van Amsterdam the baker was known for his honesty and his St. Nicholas cookies. He always gave his customers exactly what they asked for - nothing more and nothing less. This is a tale about the origin of the term "baker's dozen" and the joy of giving.
This beautiful holiday book can be introduced in so many ways.
- Teachers can focus on legends and discuss how stories are handed down through generations. -
- Another way to introduce the book is to discuss colonial America and specifically Dutch colonial New York.
- Discuss traditions and culture that has been brought over from other countries to the New World.
- Research why Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6.
- What were some of the traditions during colonial times compared to today?
- Discuss all of the beautiful illustrations and the clothing of the characters.
In this product, I've provided different graphic organizers about the story. Here are a few, with teaching points, that are included in the product.
Character Traits Graphic Organizer - Includes description, traits, quotes and actions or conflicts. Students can understand the inside-outside of a character in the story. This involves students effectively using text evidence to make their own inferences about the character.
Mapping the Story - Setting, characters, problem, and solution; This strategy is excellent in building comprehension skills. This activity is very focused but provides evidence that the student understands the entire story.
Cause and Effect - Cause and effect is the ability to determine why things happen as they do in a story. This is an excellent skill in creating analytical thinkers. Ask your students WHY questions. Then ask them HOW DO YOU KNOW? This leads into students locating in the story different causes (why something happens) and effects (what happens). There may even be multiple effects. This activity may have to be done as a whole group for younger students.
Main Idea - Students will write the main idea and then list details that support the main idea. In the case of a legend, it will be the lesson or moral of the story and details to support it. Discuss the moral of this tale with your students. Sometimes the main idea can be confused with the summary.
I've included a link to a recipe for making Saint Nicholas spice cookies. Try purchasing a mold online and baking them for your class. Students can decorate their own cookie and drink hot chocolate. I can't wait to bake them over the holidays.
If you want to add another Christmas legend from another country, I recommend Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaulo.