“Piccola” is a Christmas story that is not well-known like A Christmas Carol or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but is is a lovely story that has a great Christmas message, just as the well-known stories have. It is an old story, so it is in the public domain, and you can read it for free at Project Gutenberg and probably at other free book sites. “Piccola” is one the the stories in The Story Hour, a collection of children’s stories by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith.
As Christmas stories often do, “Piccola” takes place in a far away place and time, but the story is as relevant today as it ever was.
Piccola lived with her mom and spent her days alone at home while her mother went out to clean other people’s clothes and houses to earn money to buy food for herself and Piccola. Piccola’s days were quiet with no toys to play with and without much to do, but still she learned how to pass the time and amuse herself. One of her favorite pastimes was watching the neighbor’s garden through a little hole in the stone wall.
The plot begins to advance when a family with children Piccola’s age moves in next door. The children become friends. Then one day, the children next door, whose family is more well-off than Piccola’s, tell her about Santa bringing presents. Piccola had known nothing about Christmas presents.
I won’t spoil the story by giving any more away, except to say that is a sweet Christmas story with a fine ending.
To teach the story, I have a set of story questions, a drawing activity based on holiday details from the story, and a character chart for students to fill in about Piccola. The story questions include key ideas and details, using context clues, and making inferences.
Here you can see the drawing activity, in which students search a passage from the story for holiday details and then use those details in a drawing of their own.
With the character chart, students list specific details about Piccola such as things that she says and does and ways that other people in the story react to her, a great way for kids to work on their characterization skills.
“Piccola” is just one of the traditional Christmas stories that I’ve prepared story lessons for. The other story studies in this set, some of them familiar and some of them maybe not, include the titles below. I think you will enjoy reading every one of them.
- The Elves and the Shoemaker
- The Gift of the Magi
- A Kidnapped Santa Claus
- The Christmas Cuckoo
- Christmas at Red Butte
- Why the Evergreen Trees Never Lose their Leaves.
You can preview the set here: