Shipwrecked! Part 1

By Stefanie Cronin, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • School Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

90 minutes


This is an introduction lesson to a novel study of The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. Students will be posed with the question: How might we survive on a deserted island? Students will come up with needs that must be met for survival, and demonstrate how those needs will be met. The design process offers a creative way to introduce the concept of a novel without limiting students to one perspective.

National Standards

CCSS Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. CCSS Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. CCSS Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text. CCSS Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions)


After this lesson students will be able to empathize with a fictional characters plight of being left on a desert island. Students will be able to compare and contrast their anticipated actions for survival on the island with the actual events that took place in the story. Students will predict dangers, necessities and responsibilities that would come with surviving the elements.


Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell


Island Survival Handout Materials Bag for each group Design Card for each group Materials Bag paper lunch bag glue tape scissors Fastener items (pipe cleaners, rubber bands, paper clips, string) Surface items (coffee filters, cardboard squares, balloons, paper) Structure items (straws, tongue depressors, wood skewers, tin foil) Design challenge card


shipwreck-the destruction of a ship at sea by sinking or breaking up, resourceful-having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. need-require because it is essential or very important: want-desire


1. Ask students to imagine themselves in this situation: You are stranded alone on an island that is surrounded by salt water. There are animals on the island, including a pack of wild dogs, but you have no weapons to hunt them. You have only the clothes on your back. 2. Write Survival in the center of a semantic map. Have students brainstorm things necessary for survival. What do you need to stay alive? List the needs in order of importance. 3. Ask students: How would you be able to meet those needs if you were on a desert island? What will you do for food? shelter? fresh water? How will you store extra water in case you can't get back to the spring? How will you protect the food you store from hungry wild animals? 4. Divide students into groups of three-four and hand out Island survival organizer, design challenge, and design materials. 5. Give students 10 minutes to brainstorm. Come up with as many designs as possible for each survival item. Write your ideas on the survival organizer. 6. Give students 15 minutes to plan. As a team, pick the best design ideas and decide which materials you will use for each design. Record your plan on the survival organizer. 7. Give students 30 minutes to create their inventions. Create your survival items according to the plans you agreed on with your team. Use only the materials given to you. 8. Give students 20 minutes to write a description. Write a detailed description of each survival item. Make sure to describe the materials used, how the item will meet your need, and why you this design. Record the description on your survival organizer. 9. Keep students' plans in a manilla folder. As they read Island of the Blue Dolphins, encourage students to think about their survival items in relationship with to Karana's actual items in the story.


Assessment for lesson one is based on the design process outlined in the Survival organizer and the final descriptions of the items created.

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