Least Tern > English Class > MS Fiction

Alice-ecilaAlice's Adventuresin Wonderland



A Study Guide

by Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain and John McIlvain


Introductory Materials ~ Introductory Activities
(by chapter)
Extensions ~ Overview Questions ~ Study Questions
Alice's Cards (a Hunt)

For the Teacher (more ideas)

rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)at any time, click the White Rabbit to return here



Introductory Materials

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Lenny's Alice in Wonderland Site - quickly review the section on the Origins of Alice in Wonderland - you will want to return here often

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Alice Links expands upon what Lenny's offers

mroom.gif (913 bytes)You might want to listen as you read to: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - unabridged - Real Audio Recordings from Wired for Books (requires that you have free Real Audio plug in and a fast Internet connection).

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Lewis Carroll Homepage - select and read a biography from the Carroll Studies link - bookmark this site for future reference because it is the useful overall source you will find.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Lewis Carroll - enter the site via the link in the text - jump directly to the brief biography from the A.L.I.C.E. site (Mathematics with Alice) - there is a link to Lewis Carroll in the navigation bar - you might also want to try some of the Interactives

mroom.gif (913 bytes)The Victorian Web - provides a historical background for Lewis Carroll's world, biography, and much more for the serious student and for the teacher

mroom.gif (913 bytes) How Did 19th Century People Behave? Etiquette - bookmark this page and return to it every time you need to decide who is rude to whom... Review the rules before you read the book.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Alice and her 2 sisters - a Carroll photograph.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)SparkNotes for Alice - don't substitute these for reading, but they are a good resource and will answer some of your questions - you will need to register (free) to read the notes. If you are under 13 you have to have your parent's permission.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Literary terms - pun, literal v. figurative language - be sure that you understand these!

mroom.gif (913 bytes)When you think you are ready, try this Alice in Wonderland interactive crossword puzzle!

mroom.gif (913 bytes) Dave Neal has created a good CD called Alice in Wonderland Multimedia CD, for Macintosh, Windows 95+ & NT. It costs $19.95.


rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)Introductory Activities: Before you begin Alice, you must complete these activities in your Alice journal:
             make a list of 10 things which you know for a fact
             make a list of 10 rules which you follow without hesitation
             complete this sentence in 10 ways:  Adults are....
             complete this sentence in 10 ways:  Growing up is...


rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)Daily Assignments - Do these assignments, unless noted, in an Alice journal (digital or printed) - See also John McIlvain's Study Questions.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Down the Rabbit-Hole -

  1. Define and write a sentence illustrating the meaning of:   antipathy.

  2. Do any 1 of these assignments:

    > select a word from the dictionary which begins with "anti" and imagine it is the name of a country; describe the people who live there in a good paragraph.
    > select any one "simple rule" you learned as a child; write a paragraph which describes what happens to the child who breaks it; this should be fanciful and not too bloody!
    > because you are older than Alice, you might have been able to get that key; describe what you would have done.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)The Pool of Tears -

  1. Define and write a sentence illustrating the meaning of: inquisitive, soothing, commotion

  2. Can you figure out under what algorithm (set of logical steps) Alice's mathematics is correct?

  3. Select any 1 of these expressions, or one of your own;  illustrate its literal meaning with a drawing or an imaginative paragraph, and attach an explanation of the figurative meaning:

    > It brought down the house.
    > He is up to his ears in debt.
    > She flew into a rage.
    > Get to the heart of the problem.
    > A bad idea

mroom.gif (913 bytes)A Caucus-Race and a Long Tail -

  1. Define and use in a good illustrative sentence - caucus, insolence, adjourn, audibly, melancholy

  2. Write a very long and dry sentence about any topic you are studying in another class.

  3. Carroll uses a version of a Tom Swifty when he writes: "'Hold your tongue, Ma!' said the young Crab, a little snappishly."   It is the adverb which creates the humor.  Here is another: "I'm done, I'm done!" said the coffee pot perkily. 
    Write 5 of your own.  You may illustrate one or more for extra credit.


Write your own "concrete" poem, using one of these ideas or one of your own:   a silent tear..., we had a ball!, the star of the play..., I spy..., stepping on a crack...

In class we will investigate "It" and learn about puns. rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)

mroom.gif (913 bytes)The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill -

  1. Explain the pun Carroll makes on "grown up."

  2. What is ironic about Alice's meeting with the puppy?  What do we learn about Alice in this incident?

  3. Write a paragraph expressing your answer to this question:  Is it better to know what needs to be done before you know how to do it, or to know how to do it before you decide what is to be done?  Develop your paragraph with at least one good example.

In class we will investigate "a little Bill" and the role of servants in Victorian England.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Advice from a Caterpillar -

  1. Define and write a good sentence illustrating the meaning of:   languid, contemptuous, gravely, timid, contradict, wretched, piteous, subdued, contempt

  2. Alice continues to "stick her foot in her mouth." Cite examples from this chapter and explain the result of each.

  3. How does the caterpillar help Alice?

  4. What "growth" do we find in Alice at the end of the chapter?

  5. In a good long paragraph, answer one of these questions:  Why?   Who are you?

  6. Create an if - then logical statement which proves that:  The Queen is only happy when she is eating broccoli pizza.rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Pig and Pepper -

  1. Define and use in a good illustrative sentence:  livery, uncivil, variations, cauldron

  2. This chapter could easily be a "What's Wrong with this Picture."  Make a list in your journal of the things in the chapter "which do not belong." Pay attention to words and actions as well as to objects. In what ways is Carroll identifying the adult world?

  3. Explain why, after its last appearance, the Cat "vanished slowly."

  4. Complete one of theses two creative assignments:

    Add 2 verses to the lullaby:  one beginning "speak roughly to your little girl" and the other beginning "speak kindly to your little child."


    Imagine that Alice was holding another animal, not a Pig (lion cub, octopus, pelican, your own idea). Reread the extended metaphor which describes the pig child and Alice's reaction to it, then write your own extended metaphor. You should include some dialogue for Alice.

In class - Cheshire Cats and logical deductions

mroom.gif (913 bytes)A Mad Tea-Party -

This is a chapter about language. Instead of writing about it, we are going to read it aloud. Practice and select the character whose part you would most like to read: Alice, Hatter, Dormouse, Hare, author.

Read Lewis Carroll's solution to the Hatter's riddle (scroll down the page to the 2nd example) and try your hand at some others.rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)

mroom.gif (913 bytes)The Queen's Croquet Ground -

  1. Define and use in a good illustrative sentence:  courtier, harried (why is this a pun?), knave, procession, giddy, a furrow, a dispute, impertinent

  2. Write in your journal at least 3 conclusions you can draw about "law and justice" at the Queen's court.  For each, cite a specific passage from this chapter.

  3. Select from the chapter 1 question asked and 3 assertions made by Alice, either to herself or aloud, and explain in your journal how they illustrate a growth in her as a character.

  4. Here is a riddle:  What has a head upon which many can stand, but which can not stand on its head?

  5. Imagine that baseball were to be played at the Queen's court. Describe the game.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)The Mock Turtle's Story -

  1. Define and use in a good illustrative sentence:  stingy, unruly, moral, mock

  2. What has been the state of "rules" in Wonderland?  List at least 4 specific examples in your journal of rules lacking or rules learned or other rules. 

  3. What is mustard, botanically?  Look it up in Encarta.

  4. Open any other novel or short story book, at random, and select a line of dialogue. Copy it into your journal and then add this sentence:  "And the moral of that is...."

  5. What have we seen  so far about the value of Alice's education to her experience in Wonderland?

  6. What might be the branches of Science OR Music OR (your own) in the Mock Turtle's school?  Name and briefly describe each.  You will be expected to share this list with the (hopefully not) board in the class.

  7. James Thurber, as you hopefully know by now, also found the accepted morals of his world to be lacking. Just for fun, read one of these two very short stories: "The Rabbits that Caused All the Trouble" or "The Little Girl and the Wolf."rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)

mroom.gif (913 bytes)The Lobster Quadrille -

  1. Circle all of the puns that you find in this chapter.

  2. What exactly is a quadrille?  Answer this in your journal, using any good reference source. Then either create and describe your own quadrille for a different set of animals, in a different habitat, or add two more verses to the dance poem, introducing another sea creature which is not mentioned as being part of the dance. Be prepared to present your work to the class.

  3. Music and dance were a great part of a Victorian evening. In the language confusion of Wonderland, the words just don't come out right. Play this game with a current or popular song which you can sing for the class - rewrite at least 2 verses and the refrain (if there is one; otherwise, refrain, though how you can not do again what you have not done the first time, I certainly don't know). You may work with one partner.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Who Stole the Tarts?

Define and write a good sentence illustrating the meaning of :   suppressed.  Then tell me why this word was used to describe the treatment of the cheering guinea-pigs.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Alice's Evidence - Select one of the paragraph assignments below:

  1. "It doesn't matter a bit," Alice says, and again, "I don't believe there's an atom of meaning in it."  Soon afterward, she takes charge of the situation and "stands up for herself."  In the eyes of many critics and readers of Alice, this assertion/growing is the meaning of the story. What do you think? Respond in a well thought out long paragraph which gives examples of actions and words throughout the book.

  2. Some people feel that Carroll was poking gentle fun at the strict class divisions and rules of moral behavior which pervaded Victorian England. Write a paragraph giving specific examples of how this could be true.

  3. At least one important woman writer was angry at what she believed to be Carroll's idealized view of little girls.  Investigate the meaning of idealized and then either agree or disagree with this point of view. You must support your point of view with specific examples.

  4. Complete this sentence:  Adults in Alice are... with at least 4 good, strong adjectives. Support each word choice by relating it to a specific character's actions and/or words.

aliceline.jpg (4449 bytes)

It would be traditional to have a test at this point. 


rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)Extensions - You must each select one of the following Extension activities. You will have one week to complete the project.   All projects might be presented at an after school Extensions of Alice showcase, to which parents, students and teachers are invited. You may work cooperatively with one other student. You should complete a planning scaffold (a Word .doc file or a .pdf file - download it to your local hard drive) and have it OK'd by your teacher. Nightly progress should be recorded in your Alice journal and will be checked in class daily. An Extension is valued like a major test.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Illustrations of Alice -

Explore at least 4 of the resources below, selecting at least one of the media illustrators and one of the book/print illustrators and looking at 3 illustrations or more at each site.  Respond to each illustration in The Art of Alice extension scaffold or create a chart of your own - What did you like about it? Do you think it was appropriate or effective? What did you dislike? Be sure to explain Why. Then select 3 passages from Alice and create your own illustrations. You may do this on paper, on the computer, or through puppetry, photography or video.

  1. John Tenniel - the source is your book and The Annotated Alice. Illustrations for the project can be identified by page.

  2. Barry Moser - the source is his illustrated edition of Alice, if your teacher has been lucky enough to find a copy of this wonderful book. You may study and scan the pictures for class projects only.  Please take the time to read the illustrator's Note.

  3. Claw Theater's Alice in Wonderland - Alice done with Cats!
  4. Illustrations of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - select one illustrator from the list

  5. The Many Faces of Alice - Students from The Dalton School in NYC

  6. a Japanese Wonderland - be patient with this one - you will probably see the Japanese characters as nonsense. Nonetheless, you will be able to identify and follow the links to illustrations.

  7. Disney's Alice - you might also want to rent the video or borrow it from the library - other Disney illustrations can be found on Lenny's Site

  8. Pazooter Books - a multimedia online Alice in Wonderland - click the "for free" button

  9. Hanna-Barbera - the cartoon

  10. Marshall Vandruff - more monstrous than most - click images to expand them
  11. Eugenia Weinstein - pen drawings with the text passages - much like what you will have to dorabbit.gif (2399 bytes)

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Jabberwocky - do one of these

  1. Read the poem Jabberwocky from Through the Looking Glass. Create your own set of definitions and/or descriptions for each of the "nonsense" words in the poem. Each definition should be several sentences long; some will require a full paragraph. Make up facts and stories if you wish, but try to be consistent. Enter these definitions interactively into a copy of the poem which you have pasted into Word. Then rewrite the poem, replacing Carroll's words with your own meanings and changing other words as necessary. Do your best to write a good poem; you may change rhythm and rhyme to suit your needs. Illustrate your poem. After you complete your own work, you might see what others have to say.
  2. With a partner, complete this Jabberwocky webquest, which will also teach you a little grammar.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Riddles and Doublets - Investigate the links below to Lewis Carroll-type word fun. Record your journeys in your journal (where else?). Then create your own set of riddles and doublet challenges (with solutions) to distribute to the class electronically. You should have 5 riddles, two in poem form, and 5 doublet challenges.

  1. Doublets

  2. Riddles - more riddles

  3. You may want also to explore some of the logical puzzles listed in the next Extension.

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Logic and Mathematics - Carroll liked to play with logic and logical puzzles. Explore the links below and record your responses, logically, in your journal.  When you have visited each site, select one logic puzzle or logic riddle (I would suggest one of the riddles from #3 below) and prepare for the class a presentation in which you "teach" the solution.  OR you may write a Wonderland-like explanation for one mathematical concept you have learned this year. This should be done in dialogue form. A math teacher can help you with this. A model for this activity would be in #4 below.

  1. The Cat & Rats problem

  2. Here is a collection of logic riddles for you to try.
  3. A collection of logic riddles resides here.  Access the index by deleting camel.p from the URL and pressing enter.  zoo.p is a wonderful riddle!

  4. Mathematics with A.L.I.C.E. - a serious and award-winning site which tries to make algebra fun by teaching it with Alice, puzzles, and Carroll-type logic.

  5. Lewis Carroll's Pillow Problem - a simulation game which will help you to understand the solution.

  6. Alice tangrams designed by Carroll. You may print these out and distribute them as part of your project.  You should know the solution for at least one of them. Follow the Dodgson link to a short discussion of Carroll/Dodgson as a mathematician.

  7. Puzzles from Wonderland - logical puzzles for you to solve. rabbit.gif (2399 bytes)

mroom.gif (913 bytes)Remarking Marx and others - This Extension requires you to rent and watch at least two Marx Brothers movies and one other from this list:

    1. an Abbott and Costello movie
    2. a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope "On the Road to..." movie
    3. a George Burns and Gracie Allen radio broadcast (from an audio tape)

You will be focusing upon the language games in the movies or in the broadcast, all of which are also present in Alice. You must transcribe (record accurately) at least 3 sections of dialogue, one from each source, and show, in writing or in a PowerPoint presentation, where the language play is and how it is like a passage in Alice. Try to identify "adult/child" roles. Do your best to explain why it is funny. You may also want to prepare a video or cassette tape of the clips. You may even make your own short video, from a script of your own, illustrating your understanding of the language.

aliceline.jpg (4449 bytes)

For the Teacher

mroom.gif (913 bytes)These exercises were originally created for a 6th grade laptop classroom. They assume basic competence with the computer (copy/paste especially), Internet skills (entering URL's, downloading to local disk), word processing, and some familiarity with using tables in a web editor or word processing document. Here are some teaching suggestions:

  1. Students should keep an Alice journal, either digital (word processed or databased or in a slide-show format) or hand-written.
  2. It is suggested that a full week (5 class periods) be allowed for Extensions, especially if HW time will not allow for work at home or after school.
  3. It is suggested that Extensions, because they are creative in nature, should be presented to parents and other members of the school community.
  4. The chapter discussion and HW topics assume that you will have some knowledge about the culture of Lewis Carroll's world. The links provided in the Introductory Material section will give you this background. The Annotated Alice also provides a chapter-by-chapter background (available from Amazon.com - it does go out of print but is readily available at auction).
  5. Read aloud!
  6. Tests are also available. Please contact Least Tern directly if you wish to see them (AW or .pdf format).
  7. A sample character map, created in Inspiration, has been provided by John McIlvain. A simple exercise, it is effective in focusing student thought about the growth of this character. Mapping Alice at least twice (after A Pool of Tears and at the end of the book for example) should lead the reader to some good insights into her growth.

Additional resources:

  1. annotated e-text from Project Guttenberg - an extraordinary resource with commentary
  2. Kathy Schrock has collected an interesting lesson plan that relates Alice to Surrealist paintings.
  3. Another lesson, from EdSitement, links a reading of Alice to art
  4. a straight-forward, printable and readable text, useful if you do not have books for the students
  5. a lesson that explores childhood - Carroll's photographs, Alice and Blake's poems - from EDSitement
  6. The Dalton School's bibliography of print resources
  7. and by all means follow the links provided in the k12 section of the Lewis Carroll Homepage
  8. The American Memory collection of the Library of Congress has an interesting activity for middle school classes. Down the Rabbit Hole uses quotations from Alice and the primary sources in the LC collections to lead students through a study of the immigrant experience in the US.
  9. I hava a special fondness for Automated Alice, by Jeff Noon (Crown, NY, 1996). In this tribute to Carroll, the same Alice has a 3rd adventure, traveling though the works of a grandfather clock to 1998 Manchester. Somewhat dark and rich with riddle and literary allusion (OZ, Shakespeare, The Wind in the Willows, Doctor Doolittle and Rushdie as well as Carroll) and trickery, the novel presents little Alice with genetic manipulation, cloning, robots, computers, murder and 20th century socio-political mayhem.

Note: illustrations on this site are all by Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain

Least Tern

Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain 4/8/04