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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

Through The Looking-Glass Chess: Create Your Own Games!

Project URL:

How it works:
This program invites students to explore the metaphor of chess while reading Lewis Carroll’s classic Through The Looking-Glass, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. After keeping track of
all of the book’s references to chess (including those in the evocative illustrations by John Tenniel), they use online research to explore the history of chess and learn how to play the game or improve their chess strategies. The students then work alone or in small groups to come up with a theme or metaphor for a chess game. They also plan and create their own chess game, make the board and pieces, and then have a classroom tournament.

Standards addressed:  
Students evaluate data, develop reading and research skills, understand and apply media, and make connections between visual arts and other disciplines.

Materials used: 
Required materials include computers with Internet access, a printer, paper, pens, and pencils. Art materials may include paper, cardboard, markers, paint, clay, rulers, crayons, glue, wood scraps, and found materials.

The students:
The sixth grade students at the Institute for Collaborative Education, a small 6-12th grade NYC public school, create “physical” and digital artwork inspired by their studies in humanities. This unit should occur while the students are studying the works of Lewis Carroll.

Overall value:
Through The Looking-Glass Chess: Create Your Own Games! challenges students to study the metaphor of chess in Lewis Carroll’s work and make it come alive. Students collaborate to come up with their own metaphor for a creative chess game and they used mixed media to plan and produce amazing chess sets that ignite the imagination.

You don’t have to know how to play chess yourself to do this unit. Your students will be delighted to teach you! Let them choose their own groups to work with or, if they prefer, they can work alone. Walk around the room as they are brainstorming their ideas for an unusual metaphor for their chess game. If a group can’t come up with a single plan, help them figure out what they can do to combine the ideas. This project can be adapted to any grade level. For a related middle school project, see:



About the teacher:
Meryl Meisler wears many hats at the Institute for Collaborative Education in NYC. She is the Internship Coordinator, Admissions Director, and teaches art at this small progressive school. Meryl has received a Disney American Teacher Award in visual arts, serves on the Teachers Network Board of Directors, and is a consultant to the Whitney Museum’s online learning department while being an accomplished artist in her own right.


Subject Areas: 

English Language Arts  
Visual Arts  

Grade Levels: 




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