Disney’s live-action Aladdin is easily one of the most anticipated films of the summer! If you and your family are excited about the new Disney film, why not integrate it into some fun learning activities? Many homeschooling families like to be a little flexible with our learning schedules during the summer, and it can be a wonderful season to encourage reading and creative learning. Whatever excites your children, even a Disney movie, can provide a great basis for a learning opportunity!
Most of these Aladdin-inspired ideas involve language arts and can easily be adapted to your students’ ages and levels (from elementary to high school)! We hope that you enjoy these ideas and have fun putting your own spin on them!
Read Tales from the Arabian Nights (1001 Nights)
This classic collection of Middle Eastern folk and fairy-tales originates from the Islamic Golden Age. The group of stories is tied together by a frame narrative in which a wise queen, Scheherazade, entertains her Sultan-husband by telling him fascinating stories. However, she has to keep things exciting. If he gets bored, or she runs out of stories, she’ll face execution (a pretty good motive to tell a good tale, by anyone’s standards). Though the story of Queen Scheherazade is actually part of Arabian Nights, her “stories” include classics such as “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.”
Read these stories together, explore the origin of Aladdin, and learn a little bit about Eastern culture. There are many different versions available in English.
Disclaimer: Some of the tales present more adult themes/ some questionable morals (including “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”). For this reason, I suggest this kid-friendly version for children ages 12 and under. This version may be more suitable for teens, though I would still recommend that parents read it first (which makes it more fun to discuss, anyway)!
Compare Fairy Tales and Myths from Around the World
The story of Aladdin is of Middle Eastern origin, but it may surprise you to learn that, in “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp,” the story is actually set in China! The wonderful thing about fairy tales is that they can be retold and translated across a variety of cultures. In fact, many of the classic stories that we love in Western culture have very similar equivalents in different parts of the world.
This summer, encourage your children to read some different fairy tales and folktales from around the world and compare them to each other! This can be a great way to learn about different cultures and also to explore the concept of theme. For instance, you might compare Charles Perrault’s Cinderella to a similar tale such as the Native American folktale, The Rough Faced Girl, or the Chinese version, Yeh-Shen.
You can even add Disney movies to the mix when making comparisons (for example, this article compares Disney’s Frozen to The Snow Queen).
Ask questions like:
- Is the central theme of these stories the same or different?
- How is the main character (IE the character of “Cinderella,” “Aladdin,” etc.) the same in each version? How is she or he different?
- What trials are overcome by the main character? How are the problems the same? How are they different?
- What are some of the main lessons given by the story?
Fairy tales are the kinds of stories that are adaptable to change but hold on tightly to core themes and lessons. A discussion of different but similar fairy tales from around the world will give you and your family some interesting things to discuss this summer!
3. Write (Handwriting)
Handwriting: Aladdin-Themed Handwriting Pack
If you have young children who are working on handwriting, it’s easy to make handwriting practice more fun with this free Aladdin-themed handwriting pack! Download the whole pack or just the pages you need!
Here are some sample pages from this handwriting pack.
4. Writing (Creative Writing)
Creative Writing: Aladdin Retelling
Creative writing is such a great way to get even the most resistant student excited about picking up a pencil! Fairy tale retellings are an awesome creative writing activity for three reasons.
- First, it gets you and your students talking about elements of story (a natural continuation of the previous activity).
- Second, since students already know the outline for the basic story, they are far less likely to get writer’s block or leave things unfinished.
- Third, it’s just really fun! (You may even want to write one yourself!)
The Basic Assignment:
Discuss these elements of a story:
Ask students to change 1-2 main elements of the original story for their retellings. Have them brainstorm which elements they will change and how. After students have thoroughly brainstormed the main elements of their retellings, they can begin to work on outlines for the plot!
The plot needs to contain the following:
- an introduction to the world/characters
- a rising action (where a conflict comes to light)
- a climax (a big moment or turning point in the story)
- a falling action (the immediate result of the conflict)
- a resolution (How does the story end?)
I suggest working on this with a page length already in mind (otherwise it can get overwhelming). You can tweak this assignment based on the levels of your students. A young writer’s retelling may be one page. Your teenager may get into it and want to write fifteen or twenty pages! I also suggest working on the retelling in chunks of time match up with the different components of the plot. On day one, for instance, work on the introduction to the world and characters (etc.) This also keeps things fun and non-stressful.
Creative Writing: Three Wishes of Summer
This writing idea allows your students to get personal and creative! Ask each student to write a story (from a first person point of view) about finding a genie in a bottle on summer vacation.
Will their wishes be realistic or silly?
How will things go?
What three wishes will they make?
Will everything go as planned or not?
Will they learn anything at the end?
It is fun to write this assignment in the form of journal entries. Again, this can be as lengthy or short as you need it to be to match the levels of your students. They could even include illustrations or glue in “mementos” from their own life experiences. For example, if a child writes that he or she wished for pirate treasure, you could find and glue a plastic doubloon into the journal. This is a great way to tie a study of Aladdin into your own summertime adventures!
Cooking Something Magical
Cooking involves creativity, following instructions, and a good bit of science! It is definitely a great activity to add to your homeschool life whenever you can! Keeping with the Aladdin theme, check out some delicious Middle Eastern recipes, such as those found in The Saffron Tales.
Or, because “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” is set in China, you could also attempt some Chinese recipes together! If you are looking for a sweet treat to celebrate the end of your Aladdin studies, you could even make this Aladdin themed cupcake, inspired by the Disney movie!
We hope you enjoy these Aladdin-inspired ideas for ways to be creative and learn this summer! Please let us know if you use them and how you add your own twist!