The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi

Bumper Sticker Share


Share with your class the aphorism bumper stickers that you created for homework. Consider the following questions.

  • Did any of your classmates create bumper stickers for the same texts as you?
  • Were your aphorisms similar or different? Why do you think this is?
  • What makes a good aphorism?

Help your teacher create a class list of aphorisms.

Aphorisms: Trite or True?

Work Time

While aphorisms can sometimes quickly capture profound truth, other times, they can appear trite.

Some synonyms for trite include “stale, tired, worn, commonplace, corny, hackneyed, clichéd, banal, or unoriginal.”

With your class, brainstorm about things that could be called “trite.” Then, complete one of the following sentence frames based on your own opinion.

  • “It is better to give than to receive” is trite because….
  • While “It is better to give than to receive” might seem trite, it is nonetheless true because….

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Your Own Aphorism Experience

Work Time

Think about your own life and the gifts that you have given and received. Then, complete a Quick Write.

  • Write about a time in your life when the aphorism “It is better to give than to receive” was either true or not true.
  • Who was giving and who was receiving? What happened, and why did it prove or disprove this aphorism?

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Theme in Literary Texts

Work Time

What you identified as aphorisms in “The Gift of the Magi” can also be called the story’s themes .

Take a moment to think about what you’ve learned so far about identifying the theme in literary texts.

With a partner, consider these two possible themes from “The Gift of the Magi.”

  • Which do you think is a better theme? Why?
    • The theme of “The Gift of the Magi” is that a husband and wife love each other so much that they each give up something that they value to buy the other a gift.
    • The theme of “The Gift of the Magi” is that there is more joy in giving a gift than in receiving a gift.

Discuss your thoughts with your classmates. Do you think that a theme should be general and universal rather than specific to the story itself?

Main Idea in Informational Texts


What we call a theme in a literary text can be called the main idea in informational texts.

The writer’s examples and evidence are clues to the main idea.

Read “The Proven Power of Giving, Not Getting” and use the text to answer these questions.

  • What do you think is the main idea of this informational text?
  • What’s your textual evidence? Where does the author either tell the reader the main idea or hint at it?

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Share your thoughts and evidence with the class.

You Have a Choice

First, determine how you will approach the work. You can choose to work independently, work with a partner, work with a group, or confer with the teacher.

Compare and Contrast


Now that you’ve read both “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Proven Power of Giving, Not Getting,” complete a multi-paragraph response comparing and contrasting them.

  • What differences do you see between these two pieces?
  • What similarities do you see?
  • Do you feel that one is better than the other at getting its message across? Why or why not?

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