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More Piccola Pictures and Study Guide


The more we delve into Celia Thaxter’s poem about little Piccola, the more we discover how popular this poem used to be. We’re trying to bring it back. So here is a bonus Web page with additional illustrations from books that featured the holiday poem. Below you’ll also find a detailed study guide for homeschoolers who may wish to use the poem with students.  (Continued below) 



Pictures of Piccola 

Following are four more illustrations of Piccola and the sparrow taken from books published between 1875 and 1920. 

READ: The poem Piccola
READ: An essay on Celia Thaxter’s poem
STUDY: For homseschool students and teachers, Click for Guide







A guide for teachers and homeschool children


First Stanza. This stanza introduces Piccola and tells you where she lives.

Second Stanza. This tells when the story happened and what kind of parents Piccola had. Instead of telling you how hard her parents worked to keep hunger and want away from their home, the poem says that they could hardly keep the wolf from the door. This means the same thing. Why is it easier for poor people to live in the summer time?

Third Stanza. This stanza tells how the parents felt at Christmas time.

Fourth Stanza. Read the stanza that tells how Piccola felt.

Fifth Stanza. What did Piccola do on Christmas eve that shows she expected a present? Read the lines that tell about Piccola's getting up and going to her shoe. How do you know it was very early? 1

Sixth Stanza. Can you imagine how sad her father and mother must have felt when they heard their little girl going to look in what they thought was an empty shoe? What did Piccola's sounds of gladness tell them?

Seventh Stanza. What was the great surprise that Piccola found? How had it come there? What did Piccola think?

Who is the author of this poem?


Have you a good picture in your mind of little Piccola? See how well you can tell her story, not in verse as it is told on pages 125 and 126, but in good prose sentences of your own.

You might begin:

Far off in France there once lived a little girl whose name was Piccola. Piccola's father and mother . . .

Go on with the story, trying to make your listeners see how poor the father and mother were and how sad because they had no present for their little girl. Let your voice and manner show how happy Piccola was when she found the bird in her shoe.

There are some words in the poem that you may want to use in telling your story. Sprang, shivering, peep, and crept are good words for you to use.

When you have practiced telling the story of Piccola in school and can tell it really well, tell it at home to your mother and father.


Written Exercise

Finish the following sentences so that they will tell the story of Piccola. How can you find out how to spell the words without asking your teacher? Do not try to do too much at a time. Write Lesson I one day and put it away carefully so that on the next day you can write Lesson II on the same paper.

Lesson I

Piccola was a little girl who lived in

Her parents were so poor that

When Christmas drew near they felt sad because ——
But Piccola was sure that

Lesson II

Before she went to bed on Christmas eve she

Early the next morning she

Soon sounds of

Down in the toe of her tiny shoe

Little Piccola believed that

Make the very best sentences that you can and write them carefully. Wouldn't you like to illustrate this little story? You might draw on your paper Piccola's little shoe with the bird peeping over the top or you might draw Piccola herself.

Group Exercise

When your papers are finished, ask your teacher to let you post them in the front of the room. Then look them all over carefully and vote for the five or six best-looking papers. Ask your teacher to see whether these papers sound as well as they look, that is, whether the sentences are as good as the writing and the illustrations.

Perhaps your teacher will let these very good papers hang in the room for a week so that every one who comes in can see what careful workers her pupils are.


From Essentials of English: Lower Grades
Henry Carr Pearson, Mary Frederika Kirchwey
American Book Co. (1921)
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