This post is one of the ten in Vibrant Homeschooling’s Fabulous Family Movie Nights series. Click here to see the other movies featured and be inspired to plan an interactive learning experience through movies with your family this summer!
One of the things that we look forward to as parents is sharing our childhood favorites with our own children. So I couldn’t wait to read C.S. Lewis’s classic Chronicles of Narnia series to my daughters, and I was equally excited to watch these timeless stories come to life on the big screen when Disney released three installments of the series on film: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader.
From the start, I knew our journey to the world of Narnia would be a multi-faceted adventure. Although many movie adaptations leave a lot to be desired when the original works are so rich with content and character complexity, my girls and I were pretty pleased with how these three movies captured the spirit, splendor and significance of the Chronicles of Narnia series. Following the four Pevensie children from their historical backdrop of World War II in London to the fantastic world of Narnia, where familiar struggles between good and evil are also taking center stage, provides a wealth of meaningful family discussion and creative exploration opportunities for families.
If you’re familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia book series, then you know that the war between good and evil that takes place in Narnia includes witches, violent battles, and even death (particularly in Prince Caspian). Whereas the books are appropriate for the 8- to 12-year-old audience, the big screen adaptations may be too dark for some children in this age group. That said, we appreciated that the battle scenes were just realistic enough to support the spiritual and cultural messages of C.S. Lewis. I recommend you see them before sharing the experience with your younger ones.
For specific details and family guidelines for each film in the series, see Plugged In’s insightful reviews of each film:
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
- The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader
Beyond the Big Screen
As I mentioned, I knew from the start that I really wanted to explore and expand on the Chronicles of Narnia with my three daughters. Here are some simple ideas for doing just that:
1) Grab a family discussion guide: Thanks to the popularity and appreciation for C.S. Lewis and his literary works, I found a handful of resources for digging deeper into the Chronicles of Narnia series at our local public library. After browsing through many options, my two favorites are:
- Roar! A Christian Family Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia by Heather Kopp – features lots of games, trivia, humor and hands-on activities, as well as discussion starting points for families with children of all ages.
- A Family Guide To Narnia: Biblical Truths in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia by Christin Ditchfield – features great biblical study points and discussion questions that more deeply explore the truths found in the pages of the Chronicles.
2) Gather with a couple of families for an informal book club: We decided to share the Chronicles of Narnia book series with our existing girls book club, which gave us additional opportunities to explore and discuss with other families in our local homeschool group. However, you don’t have to be part of or create an official book club to accomplish the same goal.
You can select a couple of families with children of similar ages to yours and get together for movie showings, a short discussion and related activity (more on that next). Encouraging the other families to read the book together before gathering for the movie showing is a great way to make sure you stay on track with your own family reading.
3) Plan some related activities: Once again, there is no shortage of ideas and resources for activities related to the Chronicles of Narnia series in related books and on the Internet. One of my favorite Internet finds is this “Free Chronicles of Narnia Resource Unit” by Jo of Lasting Thumbprints, which gathers together a handful of FREE printables and activity resources that I found to be very helpful. Some of the ideas I found were:
- Map Making: Create a beautiful map of the world of Narnia or use some map starters found online.
- Parallel Timelines: Make two parallel timelines showing how much time has passed between the books in Narnia and in England.
- Research Historical References: Discuss and describe how the historical events of World War II may have played a role in the Chronicles of Narnia series itself.
- Make Turkish Delight: You’ll find many recipes online for Turkish Delight, here’s one that was easy on the ingredients.
- Writing projects: Using the Chronicles as a launching pad, you can suggest a variety of related writing projects. I had my girls choose one of the three movies and write their own fictional scene to be added. You can take the same idea with adding a chapter to their favorite book in the series, or create a fantasy world of their own.
These are just some of the ways my family chose to expand our journey into the wonderful world of Narnia that C.S. Lewis created for us, giving us the chance to explore spiritual truths in an engaging and memorable way with our children. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to turn family fun into a meaningful adventure: Put the Chronicles of Narnia movie series on your must-watch list now!
*Since each family makes their own determination about which media content is suitable for their individual family members, parents are advised to preview the movie themselves before watching. Some movies may have content not suitable for the youngest audiences. Neither Vibrant Homeschooling or guest authors in the series will be held responsible for content that your family may or may not deem appropriate in these movies.