Teaching Ideas for "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury
written by: Peter Boysen
• edited by: Trent Lorcher
• updated: 1/5/2012
This article is for middle and high school teachers, to coordinate with a unit about Bradbury's classic.
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While The Martian Chronicles was published as a unified novel, it is an amalgamation of separate short stories that also stand alone as separate literary units.
Each chapter is its own story. One creative project you can give to students to work on individually, in pairs, or in groups would be to let them build 3-D dioramas describing the key scene from the chapter of their choosing.
You can give them some time to work on this in class, and then let students take home their shoe boxes (or whatever they choose to use to house the diorama). The more creative they are with materials, the more interesting their presentations will be.
When it comes to grading, make sure you point out the difference between grading for effort and grading for appearance. Some of your students will work really hard on this and end up with a fairly messy scene.
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Have you been to the movies lately, and seen the cool posters for the latest shows?
Now is your students' chance to enter this segment of the art market. They can come up with their own movie poster for a film version of The Martian Chronicles. Make sure to have them cast the major roles -- they get to decide which contemporary actors would play the most important roles, and write their names on the poster as well.
As far as the focal image of the poster, choose one of the main characters or one of the main scenes, and make a drawing that expresses the themes of the novel. Your students have a wide variety of media in which to present the main concepts of the movie.
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An Encyclopedia from Mars
You'll need a good bit of construction paper for this one.
Every student needs 13 pieces -- preferably, taken from a multi-colored pack. Students should fold the papers in half, horizontally, to make a mini-booklet. Each half-page should be assigned a letter of the alphabet, from A to Z. Each page should be dedicated to one or two items, people or concepts from your notes on the book. "T" could stand for "Mr. Teece," "R" could stand for all of the retirees that have come to Florida.
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Your Addition to "The Martian Chronicles"
As you read through The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury's message is fairly consistent about the reasons that Mars colonization would not work in real life -- because of the human factors instead of the problems of dealing with space travel.
Now, have students put themselves in Ray Bradbury's shoes and write another story that would fit in with The Martian Chronicles. Like Bradbury's, the stories should be between 600 and 800 words, contain a lot of metaphor, and a theme, or "Big Idea."
Your students should be prepared to discuss their stories with the class.