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Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Teacher Guide by Kristy Littlehale

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Student Activities for Jabberwocky Include:

“Jabberwocky” is one of the most famous poems in the English language, but not because of its content; instead, its nonsensical words and rhyme and rhythm make it a unique work of art that stands out in the minds of readers. Lewis Carroll originally included the poem in his book Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice originally comes across the poem when she realizes she’s entered the world on the other side of the looking glass. She holds a mirror up to the poem and reads it, but it does not make total sense to her. The original first stanza was published by Carroll in 1855 as “Stanza of Anglo Saxon Poetry.” From this first stanza, he incorporated the story of the slaying of the evil Jabberwock, and the son who triumphantly returns home to his father. While many scholars believe that Carroll was inspired by local Sunderland legend of the Lambton Worm, the poem really highlights the themes of good versus evil, and the desire for parental approval.

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




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Brief Synopsis of “Jabberwocky”

The first and last stanzas are seemingly in gibberish, but many scholars agree that the stanzas provide a setting in the woods in the evening, with various animals moving and making noise. The second stanza begins with a father warning his son of a monster with sharp teeth and claws called the Jabberwock; he also warns him of the Jubjub bird and the Bandersnatch. The son takes up his sword and seeks out the monsters. He rests by the Tumtum tree when suddenly the Jabberwock appears. The son cuts down the Jabberwock and takes his head back to his father, where his father receives him into his arms with joy at the boy’s triumph.


Essential Questions for “Jabberwocky”

  1. How important is exact language in writing?
  2. How can context help us understand the meaning of words?
  3. What are some ways that we try to prove ourselves to others?
  4. What are legends, and where do they come from?

Jabberwocky Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

“Jabberwocky” TPCASTT Analysis


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Poetry is one of the most expressive forms of literature. It can evoke emotions, set a mood, tell a story, or create a deeply and universally understood feeling in its readers. This makes expounding its elements, and understanding its rich meaning, comparisons, and symbols, even more important.

The TP-CASTT method of poetry analysis is a great way to teach students to dissect a poem and understand its parts. It helps students to uncover the deeper meanings within poems while giving them the confidence to be self-educators. TPCASTT Poetry Analysis is an order of operations similar to PEMDAS for math. It asks students to list items in sequential order and answer questions based on their reading of the poem.


TPCASTT Example for “Jabberwocky”

T

TITLE

The title sounds weird. Jabber? It might mean to talk really fast, like “jabbering.” Maybe it’s a fast-sounding language?
P

PARAPHRASE

The first and last stanzas are in the woods in the evening, with animals moving about. The second stanza begins with a father warning his son of a monster with sharp teeth and claws called the Jabberwock; he also warns him of the Jubjub bird and the Bandersnatch. The son takes up his sword and seeks out the monsters. He rests by the Tumtum tree when suddenly the Jabberwock appears. The son cuts down the Jabberwock and takes his head back to his father, where his father receives him into his arms with joy at the boy’s triumph.
C

CONNOTATION

The narrator uses nonsense words and real words, and sometimes a combination of the two. All create a sense of anticipation, fear, and adventure. Some of the more prominent words and phrases include “beware the Jabberwock”, “jaws”, “claws”, “frumious”, “vorpal sword”, “eyes of flame”, “burbled”, “snicker-snack”, “left it dead”, and “chortled.”
A

ATTITUDE/TONE

The narrator’s tone is suspenseful, elevated in style, and playful.
S

SHIFT

There are a few shifts. The first happens between the second and third stanzas, where the father warns his son of the creatures in the woods, but then the son takes up his sword and strikes out after them anyway. The next shift occurs when the son returns home and his father is relieved and ecstatic. The last stanza repeats the first, but this time, it’s not a sense of foreboding; instead, it seems to show that everything returns to normal.
T

TITLE

The title is about a monster called the Jabberwock, which the son sets out with his sword to kill.
T

THEME

The theme of the poem is the classic battle of good versus evil, and also the boy’s desire to make his father proud. His father’s sheer joy at his son’s success further confounds this theme.

TP-CASTT-ing "Jabberwocky"

Example

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


Student Instructions

Perform a TPCASTT analysis of “Jabberwocky”. Remember that TPCASTT stands for Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude/Tone, Shift, Title, Theme.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Choose any combination of scenes, characters, items, and text to represent each letter of TPCASTT.
  3. Write a few sentences describing the importance or meaning of the images.
  4. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.
  5. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.



TPCASTT Template

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Literary Elements in “Jabberwocky”


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When teaching poetry, it is often helpful to refresh or introduce students with technical words. “Metaphor", "alliteration", "personification", "imagery", "apostrophe", and "assonance" are a few important terms.

After you have read the poem, ask your students to do a scavenger hunt using the Storyboard Creator. Give them the list again and have them create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the poem. They will have an absolute blast and gain mastery of the words.


"Jabberwocky" Literary Elements


DESCRIPTION EXAMPLE
Alliteration Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginnings of words in a sentence or line “the claws that catch!”
Internal Rhyme Rhyming that occurs within a single line “He left it dead, and with its head”
Metaphor An implied comparison between two things “The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame”
Imagery The use of descriptive or figurative language to create vivid mental imagery that appeals to the senses “One, two! One, two! And through and through / The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!”
Consonance The repetition of consonant sounds within a line “Come to my arms, my beamish boy!”
Portmanteau A word whose form and meaning come from a blending of two or more words “Galumph” (gallop, jump)


Literary Elements in "Jabberwocky"

Example

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


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows five examples of literary elements in "Jabberwocky".


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify use of literary elements in the text.
  3. Put the type of literary element in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.



Literary Element Spider Map Template

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Connecting with the Theme of “Jabberwocky”


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Sometimes, it is difficult for students to connect with themes in poetry until they put them into a real-world context. Consider the following activity for students to storyboard with "Jabberwocky".

At its core, “Jabberwocky” is a tale of heroism, and the battle between a good son and an evil creature. It is believed that Lewis Carroll was inspired to write the poem by the legend of the Lambton Worm. Many legends begin as stories, sometimes based on facts, or well-known events in a particular area. Sometimes, the legends are also based on landmarks. Have students create their own legendary creature that menaces civilization, and a hero to save the day. Have them document their legend in a storyboard plot diagram like the one below.


Example Legend Plot Diagram


Exposition

Once upon a time in the small mountain town of Wisdom Lake, there was a girl who longed to explore the world around her. Orphaned at 3, Laura just wanted to get away from her evil Aunt Pearl, who wouldn’t let her go past the boundary of the property line and made her do chores all day.


Conflict

On the top of Wisdom Mountain, which overlooked Wisdom Lake, there was gleaming white rock in the shape of a pyramid. The locals said the rock held magic powers, and whoever could climb up to it would be able to find eternal freedom. The problem was, it was guarded by a one-eyed red monster they called the Cyclomanderion. Many had died trying to capture the stone; none had successfully defeated the Cyclomanderion.


Rising Action

One day, Laura was walking quietly out to the barn to feed the horses. Suddenly, she saw a sparkle above her on the mountain. She squinted, and the sparkling thing moved. She listened and heard someone yell, “Help!” Laura looked around – the village was silent. No one else heard. She knew she had to help whoever it was, so she grabbed a training whip from the horse barn and began to run.


Climax

Laura made it to the base of the mountain in minutes. Slowly, she began to pick her way upwards, holding onto rocks and carefully placing her feet on solid ground. As she worked her way up, she continued to hear the screams for help. Finally, after what seemed like hours, Laura pulled herself up over the last stone and found herself face-to-face with the most terrifying creature she’d ever seen. Behind the creature was the stone, shining furiously into Laura’s eyes.


Falling Action

Laura grabbed her whip and threw herself over the edge at the creature. The Cyclomanderion got into an attack position, and Laura could see that behind it was a scared little boy. She roared and cracked the whip at the creature, but it ducked. As she reared back to strike again, the whip struck the stone and the stone exploded, throwing Laura, the creature, and the child over the side of the mountain.


Resolution

When Laura awoke, she was in a field. She looked over and found the child sleeping peacefully beside her. On the other side of her, she watched as a large red scorpion scuttled away. She looked towards the mountain, but it was gone. In its place stood a magnificent tree with glowing white fruit. To this day, we don’t understand what turns the fruit so white, but we know it has something to do with the Cyclomanderion and his white pyramid on the mountain.



Example Legend Plot Diagram for "Jabberwocky"

Example

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


Student Instructions

Create a plot diagram for an original legend building upon ideas from “Jabberwocky”.


  1. Plan out an original story using 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. This is YOUR story, so get creative!
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Plot Diagram Template 16x9

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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