Tuesday, October 11, 2011

1001 Arabian Nights Lesson Ideas

There are many things you can do with the Arabian Nights.  The nice thing is, that since it is a frame story, you would not have to teach the whole book.  You can teach sections as you wish to teach them.  Integrate this as a part of a short story unit.  Use it as a week long or a few days long mini unit to fill in time.  Assign it as an extra credit assignment.  I use it as an EOC prep unit.  The EOC is our state test that for ninth grade English will be a reading comprehension test.  Now that we are moving to Common Core Standards, this test will go away.  If you want to use it to prepare a kid for reading comprehension questions, feel free to steal and alter mine.  They can be found at: http://www.lordalford.com/9grade/arabiannights/an.htm

I got the stories with permission to use them from Candle Light Stories.  You can have access to all of their Arabian Nights stories at: http://www.candlelightstories.com/storybooks/the-arabian-nights/

If you feel the need to teach frame story and you just don't want to hit Canterbury Tales then this a  good alternative.  So is The Illustrated Man, but that will be saved for a future post.  The frame story in a nut shell is that the sultan had a bad experience with his wife.  She betrayed him and he had to have her strangled as the law stated.  This drove him crazy and he decided that all women must be evil (logical conclusion).  His solution was to marry a woman each night and have her strangled in the morning before she could have a chance to be unfaithful.  This goes on for several nights.  Many women are killed until Scheherazade is married to the sultan.  Being considerably smarter, she does not try to win the sultan over on the wedding night.  Instead, she tells him stories.  She always leaves off at the climax making the sultan decide to keep her alive one more night to hear the end of the story.  However, she moves right on into the next story and again leaves off at the climax.  In this way, she gets to live and no more girls are strangled.

You could use this question as an allusion lesson or just an extra credit question.  Try it yourself.  If you get it right, you get a no prize!

The answer will be at the bottom of the post.

Since the stories stop at the climax, it would be a great tool for teaching the plot line or let the kids practice their prediction skills.

There is a pretty good movie for this story made by Hallmark.  In fact, it is probably the best Hallmark movie ever made (I'm not a huge Hallmark fan, so I may not be the best judge).  Here is the trailer for it:

Supposedly there is a new movie version to be released in 2013, bu they've been talking about that one for years now and it doesn't seem like it will ever actually get made.  This type of story line would probably be a much better TV series than a movie anyway.  Speaking of the movie, here is a good author's purpose question to go with it that I used on a daily EOC question blog.  Still a good question whether you have the EOC or not:

When you watch the Aladdin story, you may be a bit surprised to see that Aladdin is Chinese.  That is how it is in the book.  The story is still different than the book, but it is closer than what we think.  A decent assignment may be to incorporate the Aladdin story with the Disney cartoon Aladdin.  Several similarities and differences in them.  For that matter, there are several Sinbad movies and of course seven Sinbad tales in the book.

While you're at it, there is the obvious journal prompt of what would you wish for if you had unlimited wishes like Aladdin (oh yeah, there are no three wish limitations in the real deal).

If you want to incorporate the Disney movie, but do not want to spend all that time in class showing the whole movie, then you could show the "Prince Ali" song.

This version is a little longer than needed, but the shorter version was such bad quality, I didn't want to include it.  I use this song as part of a context clues assignment for lower level students.  Each student is given a copy of the lyrics (you can find them at: http://www.fpx.de/fp/Disney/Lyrics/Aladdin.html#Prince Ali) and a chart with several words lifted right out of the song that I figured they wouldn't know (for example: coterie, menagerie, warble, hordes, alluring).  They watch the video, then I give them the chart with three columns.  The first column has the words I want them to figure out.  The second column if for guesses.  The third column is for looking the word up.  I let them watch it one more time, this time trying to figure out what the words mean.  They must come up with a guess for each one.  For lower level students, getting them to put a guess down is very difficult.  They do not want to get it wrong and they feel that if they do not put anything down, they didn't really get it wrong.  I try to explain that if you strike out but never swung the bat, you're still out, but they don't get it.  Once they have guessed all ten words, then they bring it up to me.  If their guess is close enough that I know they have a basic understanding of what was meant, then I put a check in the definition column.  If the guess is completely wrong, I do not penalize.  Once I have checked their ten guesses, I give them back the paper and then they look up all the words that they didn't get a check for.  That way, there is no penalty for wrong guesses, but there is the added bonus for a correct guess.  That takes some of the pressure off and really works their context clues skills.  THIS WORKS GREAT!

The answer to the trivia question?
See the lamp and lantern connection?  Plus when he started, he had an awful costume!  If you got it right, our high tech computer software will track you down and send you a coveted no-prize.

I'm sure there are a 1001 other ideas that could be used on this story.  If you've taught this book or parts of it before, then I would love to hear about it.

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