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Ideas for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with Fourth Grade Students

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll

So I'm teaching Fourth Grade this year. As we all know, we need to be thinking about text complexity and striving to challenge our kids. If you go to Appendix B of the Common Core State Standards, you can find the ELA Text Exemplars for all grades. The very first story for grades 4-5 is Alice in Wonderland! It's a tale about Alice who follows a white rabbit down a hole and many nonsense adventures ensue.

Because it was written so long ago, it is in the public domain and can be used freely. You can find it on Project Gutenberg. You can find various versions of the text, audio versions and a dramatization. If you go to Wikipedia, you can find comics, graphic novels and art related to Alice.

Here's the excerpt the CCSS provides:

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Illustrated by John Tenniel. New York: William Morrow, 1992. (1865)

From Chapter 1: “Down the Rabbit-Hole”

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so VERY remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so VERY much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually TOOK A WATCH OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT-POCKET, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Ways to use this literature with the common core...

Great standard to use with this text:
Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

Because there is so much out there on Alice, this is a great piece of literature to meet this standard. For example, look at the statue of Alice in Central Park.

You can ask kids: How does this representation match up with what you visualized when hearing this story? What parts of the story does it represent?

Why did Lewis Carroll choose to format the text in this way? How does it affect our understanding as readers?

There are even graphic novels you can purchase on iTunes! Here is an image from the graphic novel Alice in Wonderland - the Graphic Novel for iPadBy Ave!Comics Production and the original John Tenniel illustration. Compare the two images. Which captures the text most effectively and why?

Here are two writing activities:
  • Have students write a companion book from another character's point of view 
  • Students can write their own graphic novel of a specific chapter from Alice in Wonderland. 

I created a close reading guide to help address the Common Core standards when teaching this unit. You can find it here. Students love to hear this classic read aloud. There is so much out there to use with the students and spark their thinking about literature. Give Alice a try. It's a classic for a reason.

Twitter: @Lisa_teacher

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