Thursday, February 05, 2009

Teaching the Odyssey to Children: Blind Tiresias Drawings

The episode in the Underworld can be a gruesome, gory read. We tried to lighten the mood by doing "Blind Tiresias" drawings. Here's what you'll need:

White charcoal (available in the drawing section at a craft/art store)
Black cardstock

You could do it with white chalk but white charcoal is much nicer.

1. Show the students a picture of Tiresias and give them a little backstory on him. Tiresias is an awesome character to use when teaching how one figure can appear in multiple stories, with different purposes. Classical authors had no problem sharing characters and overlapping storylines. Why? Because these stories are based in oral traditions and myths, and characters like Tiresias the blind prophet can pop up all over the place. A good run-down on Tiresias can be found here with pictures. I love to point out places where texts can be deconstructed and the kids can kind of see beyond the page, and I find that even a six-year-old can understand this stuff, especially when you relate it to a character like "the wicked stepmother" or "the orphan who becomes a prince" etc.

2. Blindfold them. Make a big deal about checking if they can see or not, but if there are kids that get freaked out by being blindfolded, leave them a crack.

3. Pass out the materials, preferably after the kids are blindfolded, so that it will be a surprise when they see black paper and white chalk.

4. Ask them to draw Tiresias. Let hilarity ensue.

5. Some kids will cheat, and peek! That's okay! Accuse them loudly and angrily, and then move on! Bring lots of paper so that the cheaters have an opportunity to start over with virtue and a more secure blindfold

6. Some kids will not cheat, and their pictures will turn out funny:

This activity was planned and executed at our homeschool co-op, Homeschool Out of the Box, for my elementary literature class on The Odyssey. For more of my Odyssey ideas and plans, click on the Odyssey tag at the bottom of the post.

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