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Gifts for the Kids

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Spanish kids are starting to write letters to Father Christmas, but the long-established tradition is to write to The Three Wise Men (Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar, aka The Kings) who, according to The Bible, went to adore Jesus as an infant in Bethlem. The Three Wise Men work really hard to deliver their gifts on the night of January 5. Of course, they are magic and they manage to watch the kids closely at all times and only bring presents to those who have behaved themselves all the year round. The naughty kids get no gifts, but a piece of carbon instead! Please note that the kids should not try to spy on the Three Wise Men. Quite contrary, they must go to bed early that night so as to be sound asleep when the three visitors arrive at their place. In case you do not know, King Balthasar comes from Africa and his skin is coloured.

In this teaching activity, the students decide whether three children deserve all the presents that they have asked for; or perhaps only some of them…or none at all!

Stage 1: Stds. read the three letters and make a list of what the children want from the three wise men. Explain that the wise men have all the children’s records on computer so that they have access to the information that tells them whether or not they have been good.

Stage 2: Give them a copy of the records. Students read them and then write the complete sentences, putting them into the past tense. They then decide in groups whether each point is good, bad or neither. Eventually they reach a decision as to whether the children deserve the presents or not. This can be discussed by the whole class.

The letters:

Dear Melchior,

This year I´ve been a very good boy, as usual. There´s no need to ask my parents. You can believe me. Please bring me a big Mecano set, a motorbike (a real one) and all the records in the local Toys´r´Us store.


Dear Gaspar,

I am sure you are very busy up there right now but when you come this way again, don’t forget to bring me lots of computer games, a bottle of whisky and free tickets for the best discos in town, or else…


Dear Balthasar,

I am very sorry I peeped through the keyhole when you came to our house last year. But it was too dark and I couldn’t see you. Anyway, that was a long time ago and I have been a really good girl since then. Please bring me 25 dolls, a typewriter, a compact disc player and a lot of money (cash, no cheques please…they are too much trouble.)


The Records:

Alberto’s Record:
Age: 8 Town: Madrid

Thurs 25 January read / extra book / school library.
Mon 2 April make / faces / teacher
Fri 27 April do / shopping / mother
Tues 31 July get / subway / without / ticket
Sun 30 September refuse / eat / soup
Sat 10 November give / present / teacher
Wed 21 November not do / homework

Roberto´s record:
Age: 10 Town: Barcelona

Fri 12 January read / copy / Playboy / maths lesson
Tues 6 February say / good morning / neighbour
Mon 5 March smoke / school / toilet
Sun 3 June use / lot of / bad language
Wed 20 June give up / seat / elderly man / train
Thurs 9 August not lend / cassette player / elder brother
Sat 1 September wash / father / car

Maria’s Record:
Age: 9 Town: Sevilla

Thurs 1 February refuse / help / mother / housework
Wed 14 March help / old lady / cross / street
Sun 20 May give / sweet / sister
Tues 29 May skip / music lesson / after school
Sat 13 October steal / record / department store
Mon 3 December watch / TV / all day
Fri 7 December invite / headmaster / school / birthday party

Joan M. Díez Clivillé
IESI Ramon Berenguer IV, Amposta (Spain)
[email protected]
[email protected]

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