This May, Children’s HopeChest and Nadezhda fund held the first-ever Through the Winter training for our Russian disciplers. Originally developed as a creative response to new regulations, Through the Winter is based on C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (LWW).
Through the Winter has five specific goals:
To do this, we purchased a copy of LWW for every child of reading age in our program (about 1,000 copies), and have started research and development of a 12-lesson curriculum that will be taught by Russian disciplers in the orphanages. The very first of those lessons were piloted at a recent discipler training retreat in Russia, led by HopeChest Director of Marketing & Communications, Matthew Monberg.
Through the Winter uses individual characters studies from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe book and movie. Each of the 12 lessons will have versions for children ages 6-8, 9-11, and 12+. In all, the disciplers will have the opportunity to choose from three different versions of the same lesson, depending on the age group of the kids they are teaching.
Through the Winter is specifically designed for use in orphanage settings.
On May 26 & 27, Children’s HopeChest and Nadezda Fund held a discipler staff retreat for 30+ staff members from Vladimir, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Ryazan, and Kirov regions.
The training began with an in depth overview of C.S. Lewis, the Chronicles of Narnia, and a detailed walkthrough of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Most importantly, we discussed the Christian allegory hidden within the narrative. We focused on eight key themes:
These themes unfold in the plot of LWW, and each ties specifically to biblical themes. As Edmund is tempted by the Turkish Delight, so Eve was tempted by the apple.
Before watching the movie together, we encouraged our disciplers to think of themselves as wardrobes. Just as the wardrobe opens for Lucy and transports her to Narnia, the disciplers open themselves to our kids. They open up to receive them in love and bring them to a deeper understanding of a true reality. In fact, one of the disciplers said, “I will have to tell my husband that I am a wardrobe now.”
We ended the first day by watching the Russian-language version of LWW and comparing the similarities and differences between the book and movie.
That evening, the disciplers grouped according to their regions to complete their homework assignments. Each group had to create a game based on “trust” and a skit based on “courage.”
Starting early the next morning, the disciplers went through the first two lessons of the curriculum:
As we walked through the various stages of the lesson, disciplers learned how to review and prepare materials, select an appropriate lesson plan and activities, and execute the key parts of the lesson.
For example, in the lesson about Peter, the groups were instructed to “pack and backpack” of no more than 5 supplies for Narnia. Interestingly, all of the groups planned survival type gear. We reviewed both the book and movie versions of the scene where Peter kills Maugrim the wolf, and discussed times when Peter acted courageously, and when he did not. This led to a discussion about the nature of courage, and the presentation of each group’s “Courage Skit.”
Imagination was on display, as one group wrote an original skit, another staged a dramatic water rescue scene, and the third recreated a scene from Tom Sawyer. Each provided a different “angle” on how to discuss courage.
The ultimate goal was to show the disciplers how they can create different versions of the same material. For example, a group of boys who are friends may have an easy time building a supply list of 5 items, but what if the group is mixed up? The disciplers assumed they had no knowledge of what Narnia was like when packing their bags. But the children might see it through different eyes, assuming they need to pack weapons for the battle they know is coming.
Through the Winter is designed as a flexible curriculum that the disciplers can adapt as necessary. Each activity can be formed and reformed based on the group they are teaching. Of course the end goal remains the same–use the curriculum to introduce the children to Narnia and the “timeless truths” hidden within the allegory.
At each stage, the disciplers enthusiastically embraced the challenge of “becoming wardrobes” to the children, working through the lessons with creativity and diligence.
Moving forward, HopeChest is taking the initial feedback to our curriculum developers as we continue to build out the lesson plans, teacher’s manuals, and a special 5-day camp version.
To make a gift to support Through the Winter, please visit us here.