Documentary on One

Lumps of Coal

Stories of bold children and vindictive Christmas visitors are told in this documentary. Students make naughty and nice lists, study interview and questioning techniques and finally research and make a short documentary.

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3.2/5 (43 ratings)

Lumps of Coal

Suitable for: All students from 1st year – TY

Documentary length: 13 mins

To download the worksheet, simply right click on 'Download the Junior Cycle Worksheet' link on your left - and select 'Save Link As'.

Stories of bold children and vindictive Christmas visitors are told in this charming, short documentary that is perfect for any classroom in the lead-up to the Christmas season.

Throughout the documentary, students can enjoy listening to light-hearted vox pop interviews recorded on Irish streets. Passers-by tell producer Ronan Kelly about their childhood Christmas memories including the constant worry of getting a lump of coal in your stocking! The documentary also features folklore expert Cliona O’Carroll from UCC describing chilling Christmas characters from countries like Austria and Slovenia. The documentary is a fascinating insight into the role of storytelling in our society and the lingering effects in adulthood.

The thematic unit of work uses the documentary as a primary text, as is recommended in the English Specification.

  • In studying the documentary, students engage with all four LITERACY skills, i.e.  Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.
  • The oral and written assignments support development of JUNIOR CYCLE KEY SKILLS as well as a selection of LEARNING OUTCOMES from the ENGLISH SPECIFICATION.
  • In a carefully staged, AFL process, the unit begins with pre-listening, challenging students to tap into their prior knowledge, their thoughts and feelings about the context in the text.
  • The documentary, for classroom purposes has been divided into short, relevant clips and the associated activities/ worksheets will develop a variety of comprehension skills, e.g. anticipation; active-listening; discussion; post-listening and reflective/ creative activities.
  • Methodologies used in the teaching and learning resources encourage the student to become a critical, autonomous, self-directed and reflective learner. This is facilitated through AFL tasks which include peer and self-reflection sheets.
  • By the end of this unit of work, students will be ready to complete a summative assessment task, suitable for the Oral Communication Task. An outline of the CBA can be found in the specification for Junior Cycle English (October 2015) which is available on the JCT website

Throughout the unit of work, students will be guided through activities which include:
- Pre-listening work about the concepts of ‘reward’ and ‘punishment’ at Christmas time

- Active listening activity focusing on key moments, characters and sound effects

- Comprehension questions to prompt active listening

- Thinking about and engaging in a discussion about their own role models

- Review writing, based on the experience of the documentary

- Worksheets promoting critical thinking about documentary making – questioning techniques and the use of sound effects

The unit builds up to the final, summative task; a documentary making activity to encourage students to focus on the central theme of storytelling.  

The summative task is preceded by scaffolding activities, followed by AfL materials including self and peers assessment activities.

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Click here to visit the Junior Cycle for Teachers Website


Produced by Ronan Kelly

First Broadcast in December 2010

Music Used in the Documentary:

"Santa Claus is Coming to Town", Andrea Bocelli

"The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot", Nat King Cole

"Urok", Carmina Slovenica
(Clíona's Krampus Story)

"Klavieralbum für die Jugend, Op. 68_ No 12_ Knecht Ruprecht", Graham Johnson
(German story)

"Feste romane [Roman Festivals] _ IV. La Befana"
Carlo Rizzi & London Philharmonic Orchestra
(Italian witch story)

"Grýla Kallar Á Börnin Sín"
Þuríður Pálsdóttir & Jórunn Viðar
(Icelandic ogress story)

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