Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Christmas Tree, Just Where Did it Come From?

Shirley Godbold
Walton County Schools


The Christmas tree is popular in most homes in the United States. We decorate our living and family rooms and outside in the yard, with trees. Just how did they become part of the American Christmas?


The student extends and refines understanding of ways in which cultural characteristics have been transmitted from one society to another (for example, through traditions, beliefs, values, behaviors).


-Reading -The Christmas Tree- ( see associated file)
-Questions about -The Christmas Tree- ( see associated file)
-A Handmade Tree Ornament/Decoration Rubric (see associated file)
-White House Tree Rubric (see associated file)


1-Duplicate copies of the reading, -The Christmas Tree- (see associated file)
2-Duplicate copies of the questions (See associated file)
3 - Duplicate copies of the -A Handmade Tree Ornament/Decoration Rubric- (see associated file)
4 - Duplicate copies of -White House Tree Rubric- (See associated file)
5-Gather different sizes of drawing paper and colored pencils
6-Optional students may use tinsel, garland, or balls or colored paper or other items they might bring from home or that the teacher might supply to decorate their -White House- Christmas tree.
7-Gather other items that students could use to make their own decoration for a tree. (ie. popcorn, glitter, colored tissue paper)
8- provided bottles of glue


Day One
1 - Begin class with a discussion of the types of tree decorations they have on their tree at home and types they have seen or read about. Make a list of these on the board.

2 - Ask students to recall and share their favorite Christmas tree. It can be one at home or one that they remember seeing in a store, a magazine or on the street.

3 - Ask students to discuss how they think Christmas trees became part of the American Christmas celebration.

4 - Have students read -The Christmas Tree-
and answer the questions about -the Christmas Tree.- (both in attachments)

5 - Discuss with students how tree decorations have changed throughout American History. Make a list of changes that students mention on the board.

6 - Discuss with students the types of items one could use to make their own tree decorations.

7 - Assign students to sketch and color an ornament.

8 - Have the students write a paragraph, tell why they designed it, what it would be made of, and how they would explain it to their grandchildren as they hung it on a tree in the year 2052 (in the paragraph.) (rubric provided - Paragraph on a Designed Tree Ornament)

9 - Have students share their own traditions of homemade ornaments.

Day Two
9 - In groups of 3 or 4 have students draw and decorate a Christmas tree they would like as a suggestion for the White House.(Rubric provided)

10 - Have each group of students write a paragraph explaining why they think their tree would be appropriate for the White House.

11 - Share each group's finished White House tree and paragraph.

12 - Display the trees and paragraphs around the room for other classes to see after all have finished the project.


Use the Questions for -The Christmas Tree- as a formative assessment.
Use the Rubric for individual tree decoration to assess the student's paragraph and sketch of his/her tree decoration.
Use the Rubric for White House Christmas Tree to assess the group's tree and paragraph.


ESOL students can share with the class the traditions of their cultures concerning the use of the Christmas tree, ESE students will work well in pairs or groups in designing the -White House Christmas Tree- and Gifted students will want to research the use of Christmas trees throught history and how it came to be so popular or figure out the cost to decorate their White House Christmas tree, including the tree. Students might like to make their decoration to hang on the tree.
It is fun, if time permits, to serve Gingerbread Cake with Hot Lemon Sauce and hot or cold Wassail.

Web Links

Web supplement for The Christmas Tree, Just Where Did it Come From?
The Christmas Tree

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