Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland never ceases to amaze us and it is definitely a story which is suitable for readers of all ages. In our first Alice in Wonderland lesson we looked at the history of the story, and the theme of eating and drinking. We also explored its connections to two school subjects, Mathematics and History.
In our second lesson we are going to explore one more content area and look at some entertaining and philosophical passages which provide perfect discussion points to improve language and thinking skills.
Let’s go on our next adventures with Alice. All you need is a laptop, a projector, a reliable Internet connection and some copies of the reader Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
(Adapted by Jennifer Gascoigne, illustrated by Roberto Tomei. © Helbling Languages 2010)
You can choose to focus on only one theme or discuss all three of them. We also offer a general approach to building a lesson on the illustrations of the reader.
A lot of impossible things happen in this book. Here are some of the chapter titles. What do you think will happen in these chapters? If you have already read the story, do you remember what happened in these chapters?
- Alice goes down a rabbit hole
- Alice cries a pool of tears
- Alice receives some advice from a caterpillar
- Alice meets the Duchess and the Cheshire cat
- Alice plays a game of croquet with the Queen
Now think about and discuss the following lines from the story. What is strange about these situations?
“How confusing! I wonder if I can remember the multiplication tables. Let’s see – four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is – oh dear! What about geography? London is the capital of Paris, and Paris is the capital of Rome, and Rome – no, that’s wrong. Perhaps I am Mabel!’”
“Alice looked at the stones. They were changing into cakes. She picked one up and put it in her mouth.”
“Suddenly a footman with the face of a fish ran out of the woods. She knew he was a footman because he was wearing a footman’s uniform.”
2 STRANGE THINGS TO SAY
Read out and discuss the dialogues highlighted in these pages from the reader Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There are several unusual conversations in this story, yet they all contain an important truth. What is unusual and what is true in each of the passages below?
1 The dodo and other extinct animalsIn Chapter 2 Alice meets a dodo, an animal which has long been extinct. How much do you know about extinct and endangered animals?
- Visit the website of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History to learn about the dodo.
- When did it become extinct?
- Why did it become extinct?
- What did it look like?
- Where did it live?
- What did it eat?
- Now learn about other extinct animals. Go to the National Geographic website and study the Species Extinction Timeline. It presents a selection of the species that have gone extinct since 1600.
- Now go on the WWF website and learn about critically endangered species which are in danger of becoming extinct.
- Which ten animals are in critical danger?
- Where do they live?
- Why are they in danger?
2 Being a caterpillar
How much do you know about caterpillars? What are the different stages in their life cycle? Search the Internet or an encyclopaedia and find answers to the questions below.
- What is metamorphosis?
- What are the different names of the four life stages of a butterfly?
- How long is a life cycle of a butterfly?
How many different types of butterflies do you know? Do you have a favourite one?
- What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth?
4 Here is an extra lesson sequence based on illustrations.
- Take an illustrated copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You can also use the original edition which can be found on the website of the British Library.
- Focus only on the illustrations and ask your students to narrate the images in their own words.
- Write any word they do not know on the whiteboard. If possible, organise the words and phrases picture by picture.
- Now let them read a chapter of the story.
- Ask them to narrate the illustration in the same chapter. See how their story changes after reading the chapter.
- When you have talked through all the illustrations and have added all the words, ask your students to work in groups and write the whole or part of the story based on the illustrations.
- Now they can read the whole story at home and compare it with their own version.
What other areas of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have you explored with your students? Share your experiences! In our next lesson we are going to look at how Lewis Carroll uses words, some imaginary creatures and games of cards.