Disney’s The Lion King, Jr is the story of a journey, physical, personal and creative. This Study Companion investigates this journey by providing opportunities for further consideration of the creative processes Disney used to create the film, how the locations in Kenya, Africa influenced both the designs of the settings and the characters in the story, how culture can journey to influence imagery and how journeys can connect to mathematical concepts that include number lines, graphing and map-making.
Before the Lion King was a stage play, it was an award-winning Disney movie. Lion King Lithographs: Landscape, Setting and Number Lines explores lithographs and other techniques Disney used to design and develop images for his movies, including The Lion King. Nearly twenty minutes of the film were animated at the Disney-MGM Studios. Ultimately, more than 600 artists, animators and technicians contributed to The Lion King over its lengthy production schedule. More than one million drawings were created for the film, including 1,197 hand-painted backgrounds and 119,058 individually colored frames of film. Students will learn about techniques Disney used, compare lengths of objects, investigate how number lines and Cartesian coordinates can pinpoint locations, and explore proportion as they develop an image of a setting/environment found in The Lion King.
In Lion King Graphs and Map Making students will build on what they learn about the number line and Cartesian coordinates in Lion King Lithographs by exploring some of Simba’s journey. Students will look at a map of the area Simba and Nala call home and trace Simba’s journey from The Gorge to The Outlands. Then they will create their own crayon resist maps and use Cartesian coordinates to identify and plot different locations on their map.
Lion King Stories and Journeys builds on these mathematical concepts even further. This lesson guides students as they create new Lion King characters and a new journey for Simba. In Lion King Graphs and Map Making students reviewed the journey called Simba’s Exile by using a map legend to trace the path of the journey on the map. In this lesson, students will review that map and then examine an actual map of Kenya (The Pride Lands are modeled on the Kenyan national park visited by the crew while they were developing the award-winning Disney movie.) Students will learn about how the plot of the Disney movie changed over time—characters originally developed were changed or removed altogether. Students will get acquainted with the Swahili language (many of the characters in the Lion King have names that are Swahili words.) Then students will develop three new animal characters, write a story about an adventure Simba could have had with these three new characters, create a rod puppet for one of the characters and create a map to plot these new adventures.
In Lion King Set Design: Mud Cloth Patterns students will explore the cultural influences behind set designs for the stage play Disney’s Lion King, Jr. Students will view two images of JPAS Lion King set designs by Kristin Blatchford. Designs for the Lion King set incorporate mud cloth patterns from Mali, Africa. The Bamana woman of Mali have been using mud cloth techniques to design and create patterns in cloth for centuries. Bògòlanfini mud cloth patterns incorporate shapes, such as triangles and squares, and repeating patterns. Students will view Discovering Mud Cloth: AN AFRICAN VOICES EXHIBIT, a video created by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Students will compare the shapes and patterns of the mud cloth in the video with the shapes and patterns in the mud cloth Disney’s Lion King, Jr. JPAS set designs. As a class, students will use technology to digitally create a virtual Bògòlanfini mud cloth.
African Symbolism in Local Architecture gives additional opportunities to explore shapes and patterns in African designs. Students view and compare images from West African works of art and New Orleans French Quarter wrought iron. They use this research and their understanding of design elements and principles to examine these motifs and the artists’ exploration of culture through a series of sketches. Students render these sketches into a block print that incorporates Adinkra symbols of West Africa. (NOTE: This lesson was originally created as part of a collection of arts lessons; additional lessons from this collection can be found here: https://www.louisianabelieves.com/resources/library/k-12-arts-resources)
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