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Icarus and Daedalus by Josephine Preston Peabody

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Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category.

Student Activities for Icarus and Daedalus Include:

The myth of Icarus and Daedalus is a well-known cautionary tale that warns against the perils of “flying too high”. Whether because of its simplicity, its symbolism, or its shockingly tragic ending, the myth remains a classroom favorite and an important cultural reference. Like most myths, the story of Icarus has been told and retold by the Greeks, Romans, and other Western writers throughout the centuries. The version referenced in this teacher guide is the short selection written by Josephine Preston Peabody, commonly included in literature textbooks.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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The story of Icarus and Daedalus has been revisited in many forms throughout the centuries. The Greeks tell the story in Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca. The Roman version appears in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. More recent tellings of the story include artistic interpretations and poetic explorations of the myth’s themes. In some versions of the myth, Daedalus and his son are imprisoned inside the labyrinth of the dead Minotaur on the island of Crete. Surrounding the labyrinth are King Minos’ many guards. In the version adapted by Josephine Preston Peabody, the father and son are imprisoned in a tall tower on a seemingly deserted island. The focus of the story is not on the imprisonment, but on the escape. To view other artistic interpretations of this myth, visit the pages linked below.



Essential Questions for “Icarus and Daedalus”

  1. What is Icarus’ tragic flaw?
  2. What characteristics typical of Greek myths does this story contain?
  3. What is the symbolic meaning of “flying too high”?
  4. What is the lesson of the myth?
  5. What role does Daedalus play in Icarus’ tragedy? Does he bear any responsibility for Icarus’ fate?

Icarus and Daedalus Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Icarus and Daedalus Plot Diagram


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example ”Icarus and Daedalus” Plot Diagram

Exposition

Due to the cruel King Minos’ anger, the inventive Daedalus and his young son Icarus have been imprisoned in a tower off the coast of Greece.


Conflict

Although Daedalus can easily escape the tower, he and his son are still stranded on an island miles from their home. Daedalus must devise a way to cross the ocean.


Rising Action

Using wax and feathers, Daedalus fashions wings for himself and his son. Daedalus warns his son not to fly too high or too low, then the pair takes flight.


Climax

In the joy and excitement of flying, Icarus forgets his father’s advice and soars too close to the sun, causing his wings to melt.


Falling Action

Icarus’ wings fall apart, and he plummets to his death and drowns in the sea below.


Resolution

Daedalus names the nearest island Icaria in memory of his son. He then hangs up his wings in the temple of Apollo and vows never to fly again.



Icarus and Daedalus Plot Diagram
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION Due to the cruel King Minos’ anger, the inventive Daedalus and his young son Icarus have been imprisoned in a tower off the coast of Greece. Although Daedalus can easily escape the tower, he and his son are still stranded on an island miles from their home. Daedalus must devise a way to cross the ocean. Using wax and feathers, Daedalus fashions wings for himself and his son. Daedalus warns his son not to fly too high or too low, then the pair takes flight. In the joy and excitement of flying, Icarus forgets his father’s advice and soars too close to the sun, causing his wings to melt. Icarus’ wings fall apart, and he plummets to his death and drowns in the sea below. Daedalus names the nearest island Icaria in memory of his son. He then hangs up his wings in the temple of Apollo and vows never to fly again.

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of ”Icarus and Daedalus”.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Plot Diagram Template
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION

Example

(Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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“Icarus and Daedalus” Characteristics of Myths

The story of “Icarus and Daedalus” is an effective myth to use when teaching about the mythology genre. Although brief, the tale contains many fundamental elements of Classical myths. Have students use storyboards to identify these elements in “Icarus and Daedalus” and thus strengthen their understanding of this important genre. Provide students with a list of mythological characteristics, such as the one below, and ask them to identify and depict 3-5 elements present in “Icarus and Daedalus”. Have students include text boxes below each picture to explain their depiction.


Common Characteristics of Classical Myths

  • Tragic ending
  • Super-human abilities
  • Supernatural activity
  • Hero
  • Character with a tragic flaw
  • Explanation for history, culture, or natural phenomena
  • Gods and goddesses
  • Lesson

Characteristics of Myths in Icarus and Daedalus

Lesson

The myth teaches us the importance of listening to and heeding wise advice.


Super-human Abilities

Both Daedalus and Icarus are able to fly with wings. Although this is not through the aid of the gods, it is nevertheless an abnormal human ability.


Tragic Flaw

Icarus is disobedient and ambitious, which leads to his death.


Tragic Ending

The myth ends with Icarus, who is just a child, plunging to a brutal death.


Explanation of the world around us

The myth explains how the island of Icaria got its name.


Icarus and Daedalus Characteristics of Myths
Create your own at Storyboard That SUPER-HUMAN ABILITIES CHARACTER WITH A TRAGIC FLAW TRAGIC ENDING EXPLANATION FOR THE WORLD AROUND US LESSON Both Daedalus and Icarus are able to fly with wings. Although this is not through the aid of the gods, it is nevertheless an abnormal human ability. Icarus is disobedient and ambitious, which leads to his death. The myth ends with Icarus, who is just a child, plunging to a brutal death. The myth explains how the island of Icaria got its name. The myth teaches us the importance of listening to and heeding wise advice. CHARACTERISTICS OF MYTHS I shall name this isle Icaria.