Thursday, January 31, 2013

Literary Unit: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Before beginning on this story with your children, you may be interested to know there is quite a controversy over reading order of The Chronicles of Narnia.  If you care to make a specific choice considering these arguments, I have included a summary of the information here.

At this point, Alice has only read chapter 1 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (hereafter referred to in the following abbreviated form: LWW) but I do plan on having her do a more traditionally "academic" study of the book.  I found the resource guides provided by the C.S. Lewis Foundation exceedingly helpful in forming my plans with her.  For those of you with Middle School Children, this single guide (and its partner, the "Values Guide" also on the link) will be a wonderful resource.  For readers that are a bit younger than the children for which this guide was intended, I have made some adaptations as follows.

I printed the Educator's Guide that specifies vocabulary, critical thinking and etc. out and then added pages at the end of each chapter in the guide to create a sort-of workbook for Alice.

I plan to have her spend a day or two with each chapter at least.  The idea is that she answer the Vocabulary, Fill in the Blanks, True and False and Comprehension questions while reading or immediately after finishing each chapter.  The Write, Discuss, Create section is the part that will be a lot more time consuming (and since the whole thing is designed for classrooms it does not always fit our situation).  Often, she will be given the "discuss topic" as an alternative writing topic or she and I will just discuss it together.  I may not expect her to handle both the "Write," "Discuss" AND "Create" rather, she will often be asked to do only two of the three, or discuss all and only do one of the  three in a written form.

The story is ultimately set in Narnia, but begins in the UK during World War II.  The Pevensie Children have been evacuated from their homes and are just moving in with a "professor" in the country.  For today's children to understand the historical context, they will need a bit of an explanation to understand what is going on.  BBC Schools - Primary History offers a wonderful resource for a quick or extensive look at this part of history and what children like the Pevensie Kids were experiencing.  For a quick look, explore the heading "Evacuation."  I'd recommend a more extensive look at some point.  However, a word of caution; I suggest previewing the site with your child so you can discuss sensitive topics such as Nazi treatment of Jews, civilian casualties and the dropping of the atom bomb together.  Alice enjoyed going shopping and learn how rationing impacted what was available for eating, reading the articles and of course, playing the time-capsule game.  She was horrified to learn about the Nazi's and their treatment of Jews and other marginalized groups such as the handicapped, but it is a part of our history that cannot be covered up or ignored.    If you are a home-schooling family with elementary kids, I highly suggest bookmarking this resource.  We have used it in our studies of Ancient Greece, India, and Rome as well - it is fabulous!

Also from BBC Schools - Primary, is this page all about Lewis himself.  The wonderful thing for a child to know, is that Lewis took in three children during the time of the war himself.  While the children he took in were not exactly Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmond, the children he did shelter helped inspire him to write for children and ultimately were a big part of why The LWW (and successive stories) got written in the first place.  Part of learning about literature includes learning about its authors.  As learning coach, you might appreciate this article about Lewis for its rich background information on how he viewed himself with kids.  Lewis wrote and corresponded with a number of Children.  Many of these letters have been published in this book - which though I have not read it yet, is on my wish list.

I have incorporated these printables options for adaptations to the Lewis Foundation's Educator's Guides for chapters 1 -3 below.  By clicking on them and opening as a separate page, you should be able to print them for your own use.  I ask that credit for their inspiration be given to the C.S. Lewis foundation for question and activity ideas.  For that reason, I will also input their user statement here and ask that it be applied to my alterations and additions as well:
They may be downloaded in their entirety, copied and pasted into learner activities and used, in part or in whole, as deemed most appropriate to the learning styles and developmental levels of particular student groupings.
For Vocabulary, Comprehension, True/False questions and more for each chapter, make sure to check out the original guide at the C.S. Lewis Foundation website.
Lewis felt that it was wonderful for kids to read the Narnia stories for the sake of enjoying the land of Narnia alone, but it does also contains Christian themes.  For more information about Christian aspects of his tale, I highly suggest checking out the Great Course Series Life and Writings of C.S. Lewis for a full accounting of the Christian messages within the tale.  While I am, a scientist who disagreed with a few intermediary remarks made by professor Markos in the lectures, the entire course was engaging to hear and eye-opening about Lewis himself, and his beliefs as depicted in his writings on the whole.  I enjoyed every minute of the lessons and feel inspired to read some of Lewis' non-fictional works after having heard the lecture series.  If you can't purchase the course, it is possible it is available within your library system, or you can get a basic summary of SOME of Lewis' Christian Themes and so-called allegory contained within the Narnia Chronicles with this online articleThis PBS special, might also be of interest.  I have not yet been able to view it, but hope to do so in the near future.

At the end of chapter three, I plan to take an extra day to Have a Look at Loyalty using one of Aesop's Fables.  We will then discuss Edmond as a character choosing to express his loyalty to either the White Witch or to his Siblings.  For access to this lesson and its related activity pages, click here.

Sparknotes also offers a guide to the book with chapter summaries and an analysis of major characters, themes and motifs.

Showtime for teachers presents a study guide for children having viewed the play.  This short study guide has even more wonderful activities that are suited to the Elementary school student and can easily be incorporated into your own "workbook creation."  If you let your child see the whole thing before finishing the book, you will give away some of the secrets, but by stragegically separating the guide into pages for your kids within the context of reading, as you read, you have one more wonderful resource for ideas.  There is even a recipe for making your own Turkish Delight.  Tempting as it may be, these delights don't have quite the same magical qualities as the White Queen's.

For later Chapters in The LWW and their associated resources (part two), Click Here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments!