Fantasy Christmas Shopping Lesson Plan

Christmas Presents under Christmas Tree

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Christmas shopping is fun for both the shopper and the recipient. When the Sunday papers begin to show up on Thanksgiving, your students are eagerly looking at the advertising section in the middle. Why not create a "Make Believe" shopping activity that will harness your students' Christmas enthusiasm and turn it into independent problem solving academic behavior? This lesson plan features a project that provides project-based learning.

Lesson Plan Title: A Fantasy Christmas Shopping Spree.

Student Level Grades 4 through 12, depending on students' ability.


  • Students will choose items for family members within a prescribed budget.
  • Students will assemble choices on a "T Chart" with a full accounting of money spent, including sales tax.
  • Students will share their "Shopping Fantasy" with peers.

This plan involves both Math and English Language Arts Standards.


Math Operations and Algebraic 4.OA.3. Solve multi-step word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.

English Language Arts

RI (Reading Informational Text) 4.7. Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

W (Writing). 4.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Three 30 minute periods (in a 50 minute period, use 15 minutes for warm-up and the last 5 minutes for wrap up and closure.)


Procedure: Day One

  1. Anticipatory Set Pair and Share: have students partner with someone and share what is on their Christmas wish list. Report out.
  2. Present and review the T-chart and the Rubric. Students need to know that they must stay within the budget (created by taking the number of family members and multiplying it by $50.)
  3. Planning: Have each student take as many pages as they have members of their family. Sometimes it's a good idea to put them (your students) into the mix: it motivates them. I have found the enthusiasm that they have for choosing things for their families is enough: for students on the autism spectrum, I would recommend a page for each student as well. The planning page guides them through a brainstorming activity: what sort of things would your mother, sister, brother like? That will help focus their shopping spree.
  4. Let students loose with the advertisers: task them with choosing something for each member of their family, cut the item out and put it in the business envelope.
  5. Check in five minutes before the bell:
    Ask Individual children to share their choices: Who did you shop for? How much have you spent so far?
    Review estimation: About how much did you spend? Round to the nearest dollar or to the nearest 10. Model on the board.
    Review tasks: what has been completed and what you will do the next day.

Day Two

  1. Review: Take the time to check in: What have you finished? Who has already found all their items? Remind them that they have to stay within the budget, including tax (if your students understand multiplication and percents. Don't include sales tax for students who are still only adding and subtracting. Modify this to your student's abilities. You are special educators, remember?)
  2. Give time to students to continue their work: you may want to check in with students who need extra support to be sure they are not getting waylaid.
  3. Check in before dismissal to check progress. State when the end date will be: Tomorrow, or will you provide time and materials at the end of each period? You might easily spread this activity over the balance of a week.

Final Day

  1. Presentations: give your students an opportunity to present their final projects. You might want to mount them a bulletin board and give students a pointer.
  2. Presentations should include who is in their family, what each one wants.
  3. Provide lots of feedback, especially praise. This is a good time to teach students to learn to give feedback, as well, though focus on positive feedback only.
  4. Return the rubric with a grade and notes.

Evaluation and Follow-Up

Follow up is about being sure that your students have learned something from the process: Did they follow all the directions? Did they figure the tax correctly?

Students grades are based on the rubric. If you have differentiated your use of them, many students who have never gotten an A will get an A on this project. I remember the incredible excitement my students in Philadelphia experienced to get that first A. They worked hard and deserved them.