Chronicles of EDSITEment: Beyond the Wardrobe

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The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning … And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story

— C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Male lion on rockDecember 2010 opened with the release of the long-awaited episode of the C.S. Lewis saga, The Chronicles of Narnia. As your students climb aboard The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to encounter a host of dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors, EDSITEment provides additional ways to engage their creative imaginations!

Start by asking your students how they would feel waking up as a dragon one morning and not being able to return to human form — non-believer Voyage character Eustaces does just that as he receives his comeuppance. Then revel with students in the many different forms of dragons and other imaginary beings in Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids via EDSITEment-reviewed Internet Public Library complete with Educator’s Guide for teachers to download from the Field Museum’s online exhibit. C.S. Lewis adapted stories as old as the Greeks for his books and so the EDSITEment lesson It Came From Greek Mythology can help students see how the latest Hollywood blockbuster draws from the rich treasures of ancient wisdom.

In keeping with the tradition of "odyssey" stories, Voyage is always more about the journey than the destination. Middle school students can embark on further heroic adventures on sea and land with EDSITEment lesson A Story of Epic Proportions: What makes a Poem an Epic? with an interactive assessment to quiz them on Elements of the Epic Hero Cycle. Elementary students can explore images of magical creatures from around the world in EDSITEment lesson, Unicorns, Dragons, and Other Magical Creatures and show an understanding of how they are described in stories.

EDSITEment directs students to the following resources to build on their interest in the Narnia cycle. Middle school students can consider how the Narnia characters act the part of Heroes Around Us in this lesson plan by EDSITEment partner Read Write Think. High school students will benefit from the PBS special program The Question of God, which presents the life story of the author, C.S. Lewis, who (along with Sigmund Freud!) poses questions that reflect on the meaning of life appropriate to the holiday season.

Liberties were taken in the making of The Voyage by filling in a number of gaps Lewis left between this episode and the next in The Chronicles of Narnia series. Explore background information about the writing of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles through Into the Wardrobe where students will learn about Lewis’s life and his connection with the Inklings, a round table literary society he formed at Oxford that included J.R.R. Tolkien of The Lord of the Rings fame.

Students will learn more about the making of the film through listening to the California C.S. Lewis Society’s video interview with Max McLean and Douglas Gresham, step-son of C.S. Lewis and executive producer of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Then have students compare their understanding of the book with their viewing of the film using Get the Reel Scoop: Comparing Books to Movies lesson from EDSITEment partner, Read Write Think.

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Male lion sunning himself on a rock. He is a symbol of strength, self-sacrifice and divinity in the Narnia series. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons