Student Sites Peabody Elementary Teacher Sites
Island of the Blue Dolphins

Unit by: Mickie Fencl fenclm@k12tn.net

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins
Grade Levels: 4-8
Unit Theme: Writing Across the Curriculum
Subject Areas: Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, Life Skills

Rationale:
The Newbery Award winning book, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, is the focus of extension activities related to solitary existence on an island. As their island homeland becomes increasing dangerous, a tribe of native Indians is rescued and taken to a Californian mission. Enduring eighteen years of isolation, the young girl left behind learns survival skills through knowledge of the physical environment and natural resources. Based on a true story, O'Dell presents realistic challenges and solutions as the character struggles to fulfill her basic needs.

Unit Overview:
Activities in this unit are designed for the student to further explore topics introduced in the story. The research lessons are interdisciplinary, including activities in language arts, science, social studies, geography, math, and art. Each student will answer questions in a computer journal, including the names and the URL's of sites visited, noting the location of interesting pictures and charts. During the research phase of this unit, the student and teacher will confer to design a culminating written project to be completed individually. Consideration should be given to the child's interests and abilities. The culminating project will take the form of an oral report with a multimedia presentation.
The research activities are listed in an sequence pertinent to understanding Karana's background, environment, and subsequent experiences. Since these topics are introduced early and are repeated throughout the story, they may be assigned in random order. In addition to traditional comprehension activities, the unit is expected to take 4-5 weeks (daily 45 minute sessions) to complete. Allow 2-3 weeks to research, 1 week to prepare the final project, and 1 week to present and evaluate these projects. After considering time limitations and available equipment, the teacher may modify the unit by grouping students or by eliminating some of the lessons. While websites will be provided, students are also encouraged to locate and contribute information from other sources (references materials, CD-ROMs, laser disks, etc.).

Unit Lessons:

Lesson 1: Chumash Indians

Lesson 2: Aleuts

Lesson 3: Dolphins

Lesson 4: Sea otter

Lesson 5: Kelp

Lesson 6: Devil Fish

Lesson 7: Food preservation

Culminating Activity: Oral Presentation

Lesson 1: Chumash Indians

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Experience and develop interest in literature which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.
  2. Select, evaluate, and utilize resource material in order to apply it effectively.
  3. Access and use multiple technological reference sources.
  4. Locate, organize, and interpret information from print and non-print media.
  5. Research information to prepare presentations or reports.
  6. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  7. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  8. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  9. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.

Materials:

Word Processor and computer journal file or paper journal
Websites:
Island Life Long Ago
Houses of the Chumash
Chumash Transportation
Clothing of the Chumash

Tasks:

The natives of the Island of the Blue Dolphin were Chumash Indians. Their ancestors had been on the Channel Islands for many years, when the climate was much cooler and the islands were covered with trees.
Learn more about the people of Karana's tribe. Create a new document, name it L1 - Chumash Indians, and save it to your journal folder. Record your answers to the following questions:

        From Island Life Long Ago:
  1. How long ago did the Indians arrive on the Channel Islands?
  2. What does the term 'chumash' mean? Why was that name used to describe these Indians?
  3. What are the main discoveries for which these indians are known? Look carefully at the section on rock painting and find out the importance behind their paintings.

    From Houses of the Chumash:

  4. Describe the houses built by these Indians. What were they made of, how were they shaped? What special features did they have?

    From Chumash Transportation:

  5. What kind of transportation was used? How were they built?

    From Clothing of the Chumash:

  6. Describe the clothing worn by Chumash men and women. What were they made of? Describe clothing for special occasions.
  7. What additional information did you find interesting about the Chumash Indians?
  8. Explain how the Indians of Karana's tribe compare to the Indians researched in this lesson. Did the people of Karana's tribe do things as described in the sites visited? Give examples.

Evaluation:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in locating and interpreting information from specific sites. During the research phase of the lessons, the teacher will question the student to determine his comprehension of the expected findings. All lessons will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression, and grade appropriate grammar and spelling. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's understanding of the material.

Additional Resources:

Home of the Chumash
Chumash Indians
Who Are the Chumash?

Lesson 2: The Aleuts

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Experience and develop interest in literature which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.
  2. Select, evaluate, and utilize resource material in order to apply it effectively.
  3. Access and use multiple technological reference sources.
  4. Locate, organize, and interpret information from print and non-print media.
  5. Research information to prepare presentations or reports.
  6. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  7. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  8. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  9. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.

Materials:

Word Processor and computer journal file or paper journal
Websites:
Eskimos and Aleuts
Beringia

Tasks:

Karana describes the day that Captain Orlov and the Aleuts came to the Island of the Blue Dolphins to hunt sea otter. "Their faces were broad, and shining dark hair fell over their eyes. When they came closer I saw that they had bone ornaments thrust through their noses."
The Aleuts are the native Indians of the Aleutian Islands off Alaska. In the 1740's the Russians took control of these islands and took the Aleut people as their slaves. Create a new document, name it L2 - Aleuts, and save it to your journal folder. Record your answers to the following questions:

  1. From Eskimos and Aleuts:
  2. Who are the Aleuts racially similar too? Does that explain where they came from?
  3. In the 1800's, who did the Aleuts work for and what did they do?
  4. When did the Aleuts and Eskimos become United States Citizens?
  5. What did the Aleuts do for their livelihood?
  6. How did they treat their children?
  7. Describe how Aleuts and Eskimos govern themselves.

    From Beringia:

  8. What does the term 'Beringia' mean?
  9. What did all Alaskan tribes have in common?
  10. Where did the Aleuts settle in the Alaskan territory? How did that effect their life?
  11. What kind of food supply was available to the Aleuts? How did that effect their culture? Give examples of their advanced culture.
  12. What additional information about the Aleuts helped you understand their culture?
  13. How were the Aleuts from the story like those you researched? Give examples.

Evaluation:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in locating and interpreting information from specific sites. During the research phase of the lessons, the teacher will question the student to determine his comprehension of the expected findings. All lessons will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression, and grade appropriate grammar and spelling. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's understanding of the material.

Lesson 3: Dolphins

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Experience and develop interest in literature which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.
  2. Select, evaluate, and utilize resource material in order to apply it effectively.
  3. Access and use multiple technological reference sources.
  4. Locate, organize, and interpret information from print and non-print media.
  5. Research information to prepare presentations or reports.
  6. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  7. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  8. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  9. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.

Materials:

Word Processor and computer journal file or paper journal
Websites:
All About Dolphins
David's Dolphin Images

Tasks:

"Dolphins are animals of good omen. It made me happy to have them swimming around the canoe, and though my hands had begun to bleed from the chafing of the paddle, just watching them made me forget the pain. I was very lonely before they appeared, but now I felt that I had friends with me and did not feel the same."
Although they live in water, dolphins are mammals and have characteristics like other mammals. However, they also have many unique characteristics as marine mammals. Find out about the special characteristics of dolphins by visiting the above sites. Create a new document, name it L3 - Dolphins, and save it to your journal folder. Record your answers to the following questions:

From: All About Dolphins
  1. Describe what a dolphin really is.
  2. Are all dolphins colored the same? Explain the reasons for your answer.
  3. Where do dolphins live? Which area do they prefer?
  4. What do dolphins have to keep them warm? Do you think the same works for humans?
  5. Dolphins have 100 teeth yet they don't chew their prey. For what are the teeth used? What is included in their diet?
  6. What causes some of the dolphins to become endangered?

Explore other parts of this Dolphin page and to find more interesting facts about dolphins to include in your journal. From the Main Menu in this site, choose any of the other links to learn more. Visit David's Dolphin Images for some great photos.

Evaluation:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in locating and interpreting information from specific sites. During the research phase of the lessons, the teacher will question the student to determine his comprehension of the expected findings. All lessons will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression, and grade appropriate grammar and spelling. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's understanding of the material.

Additional Resources:

Spotted Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin  at SeaWorld
The Ultimate Dolphin

Lesson 4: Sea Otters

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Experience and develop interest in literature which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.
  2. Select, evaluate, and utilize resource material in order to apply it effectively.
  3. Access and use multiple technological reference sources.
  4. Locate, organize, and interpret information from print and non-print media.
  5. Research information to prepare presentations or reports.
  6. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  7. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  8. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  9. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.

Materials:

Word Processor and computer journal file or paper journal
Website:
 Friends of the Sea Otter

Tasks:

"The sea otter, when it is swimming, looks like a seal, but is really very different. It has a shorter nose than a seal, small webbed feet instead of flippers, and fur that is thicker and much more beautiful. It is also different in other ways. The otter likes to lie on it back in the kelp beds, floating up and down to the motion of the waves, sunning itself or sleeping. They are the most playful animals in the sea."
Sea otters were hunted by both the Aleuts and Chumash for their valuable fur. These marine mammals play a special role in the story. Create a new document, name it L4 - Sea Otter, and save it to your journal folder. Record your answers to the following questions:

From Friends of the Sea Otter, click on 'Sea Otter Pictures' and 'Behavior of the Sea Otter':
  1. Look at the pictures and read the 9 behaviors of the sea otter. Find the description on the behavior page that matches each one of the pictures.

From Friends of the Sea Otter, click on and read the 'FAQs About Sea Otters' to answer the following:

  1. Who are some of the relatives of the otter?
  2. What preys on the sea otter? What was the biggest hazard to the otter population in the 18th and 19th centuries?
  3. Describe a normal day in the life of an otter? In what ways, if any, is an otter's life similar to yours?
  4. What do sea otters eat? What benefit does the otter play in keeping the ecosystem healthy?
  5. Explain why a healthy coat is so important to the otters.
  6. Read the last question and compare and contrast the river otter and the sea otter.

From SeaWorld:

  1. Explain what changed the otter population's decline.
  2. Compare the area where otters lived in the early 1700s to the area they inhabit today. 

Evaluation:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in locating and interpreting information from specific sites. During the research phase of the lessons, the teacher will question the student to determine his comprehension of the expected findings. All lessons will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression, and grade appropriate grammar and spelling. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's understanding of the material.

Additional Resources:

The Otter Project
Discovery Online: Sea Otters

Lesson 5: Kelp

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Back to Unit Lessons

Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Experience and develop interest in literature which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.
  2. Select, evaluate, and utilize resource material in order to apply it effectively.
  3. Access and use multiple technological reference sources.
  4. Locate, organize, and interpret information from print and non-print media.
  5. Research information to prepare presentations or reports.
  6. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  7. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  8. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  9. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.

Materials:

Word Processor and computer journal file or paper journal
Websites:
Learning about the Kelp Forest
Kelp Forests

Tasks:

"By the time I filled the basket, the Aleut ship had sailed around the wide kelp bed that encloses our island and between the two rocks that guard Coral Cove." This is the first reference Karana makes of kelp, but is repeated many times throughout the story. Karana and her tribe used kelp for many different purposes, including ropes, nets, building materials, and other important items.
Kelp was one of the most important natural resources that Karana used. Find out how it grows and other facts. Create a new document, name it L5 - Kelp, and save it to your journal folder. Record your answers to the following questions:

  1. From Learning about the Kelp Forest:
  2. How tall can some varieties of kelp grow? How fast do they grow?

    From Kelp Forests:

  3. Why does kelp grow in shallow water?
  4. What kind of animal life grows in kelp forests?
  5. How is kelp 'anchored' in the water?
  6. How does the sea otter control kelp food webs?

Evaluation:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in locating and interpreting information from specific sites. During the research phase of the lessons, the teacher will question the student to determine his comprehension of the expected findings. All lessons will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression, and grade appropriate grammar and spelling. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's understanding of the material.

Additional Sources:

Kelp Forests - Jewels of the Sea

Lesson 6: Devilfish

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Experience and develop interest in literature which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.
  2. Select, evaluate, and utilize resource material in order to apply it effectively.
  3. Access and use multiple technological reference sources.
  4. Locate, organize, and interpret information from print and non-print media.
  5. Research information to prepare presentations or reports.
  6. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  7. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  8. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  9. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.

Materials:

Word Processor and computer journal file or paper journal
Websites:
About Octopi
Cephalopod Page
Octopus Briareus Picture
Octopus Rubescens Picture
Octopus Salutii Picture
Many other octopus pictures

Tasks:

"Rontu did not hear me. He was watching a devilfish, just beyond the opening of the cave. This fish has a small head with eyes that bulge and many arms. The devilfish was in front of us, swimming slowly near the surface, moving all his arms at once. Large devilfish are dangerous if you are in the sea, for their arms are as large as a man, and they can quickly wrap them around you. They also have a big mouth and a sharp beak where their arms join their head."
From Karana's description, we know that this fish is dangerous and very large. Devilfish is the name Karana used; its real name is the North Pacific Octopus, or the giant octopus. The octopus has 8 arms, or tentacles; if he loses one, a new one will grow in its place. Look for other interesting information about this creature. Create a new document, name it L6 - Devilfish, and save it to your journal folder. Record your answers to the following questions:

  1. From About Octopi:
  2. What other animals are in the Mollusca group and are related to the octopus?
  3. How large is the Giant Pacific Octopus? How does that compare to the smallest octopus?
  4. What does its complex brain allow this animal to do?
  5. Does an octopus have a backbone?
  6. Describe the sense of touch an octopus has.
  7. Describe how an octopus behaves when threatened.
  8. Explain what is unusual about its skin color.
  9. How many eggs does the female lay? How many of those survive to adulthood?

Explore the other websites listed above for interesting pictures of different types of octopi.

Evaluation:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in locating and interpreting information from specific sites. During the research phase of the lessons, the teacher will question the student to determine his comprehension of the expected findings. All lessons will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression, and grade appropriate grammar and spelling. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's understanding of the material.

Additional Resources:

Octopus dofleini

Lesson 7: Food Preservation

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Experience and develop interest in literature which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.
  2. Select, evaluate, and utilize resource material in order to apply it effectively.
  3. Access and use multiple technological reference sources.
  4. Locate, organize, and interpret information from print and non-print media.
  5. Research information to prepare presentations or reports.
  6. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  7. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  8. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  9. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.

Materials:

Word Processor and computer journal file or paper journal
Website:
Drying Foods

Tasks:

"This shellfish grew on the rocks along the shore and was plentiful. We gathered them at low tide in baskets and carried them to the mesa where we cut the the dark red flesh from the shell and placed it on flat rocks to dry in the sun. Abalones are larger than your hand and twice as thick when fresh, but they shrink small in the sun so you have to dry many."
During the summer, Karana gathered abalone every day so she would have food for the winter, sometimes canoeloads in a day. She lived in a time and place where refrigeration was not available. Food was gathered and dried in the summer, then saved for the winter months. Today, even with modern appliances, dehydrating food is very popular. Find out more about sun drying food, as people have done for centuries. Create a new document, name it L7 - Food Preservation, and save it to your journal folder. Record your answers to the following questions:

From Drying Foods:
  1. Throughout history, what was used to remove water from food?
  2. Define dehydration.
  3. What are some benefits of dried food?
  4. What are the tools used to dehydrate food?
  5. What types of food can be dehydrated?
  6. What is the nutritional value of dehydrated food?
  7. Outline the steps that need to be taken to dehydrate food?
  8. Why are dried products easier to store?
  9. Find out about fruit 'leather'. How are they prepared for drying? Would it be easier to dry fresh fruit or canned fruit?
  10. Food dehydration worked very well for Karana on the island. Think of how she preserved the abalones. Would it be easy to sun dry food in Tipton County? Why or why not?

Evaluation:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in locating and interpreting information from specific sites. During the research phase of the lessons, the teacher will question the student to determine his comprehension of the expected findings. All lessons will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression, and grade appropriate grammar and spelling. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's understanding of the material.

Additional Resources:

Drying Foods
Drying, General Information

Culminating Activity

Unit Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Grade Level: 4-8

Standards:

  1. Write frequently for a variety of purposes such as narration, description, exposition, and personal, creative expression.
  2. Develop organized writing containing focused, well-developed ideas.
  3. Evaluate and revise writing to focus on purpose, organization, development, transitions, unity, and audience awareness.
  4. Use multimedia to create, to display, and to explain information.
  5. Extend the use of the computer as a research and communication tool.
  6. Develop critical listening skills.
  7. Present oral summaries and/or analysis of material read or viewed.
  8. Construct organized oral presentations based on research.

Materials:

Word processor
Completed research
Multimedia computer application

Tasks:

In the culminating activity, the student will use information discovered in the research lessons to create a written report and oral presentation using a multimedia program. The student and teacher will decide the content of the culminating activity in a conference. The student may chose to write a creative, expository, informative, or persuasive article.

Suggestions for Culminating Activity:

  1. Continue Karana's story when she arrives at the mission.
  2. Suppose Karana is captured by the Aleuts and taken to their homeland. Would her life have been better? Continue Karana's story as she learns to survive in that environment.
  3. The Island of the Blue Dolphins has recently become a tourist resort. Create a travel brochure describing the island's features. Be sure to include weather information, resort activities, and sights or attractions.
  4. On this resort island, create a restaurant which features authentic Chumash dishes. Describe the foods available in the restaurant and how they are prepared. Remember to include only foods grown or hunted on the island.
  5. You are the reporter from the Santa Barbara Mission Gazette. When Karana is rescued from the island, you have the opportunity to interview her for your paper. Write a news article detailing Karana's rescue and how she survived for so many years. Be sure to include quotations from your interview.
  6. Chose two of the animals you researched and explain why they were so important to survival on the island.
  7. Explain how the climate and location of the island was important to Karana's survival. What would have happened if Karana experienced and "el nino" as has occurred this year?
  8. Compare the Chumash and Aleuts? What do they have in common? What are some differences between the tribes.
  9. Suppose Karana kept a diary of her life and wants to leave a record of everything that happened after she was left on the island. For each chapter, state the main point one sentence. Use these sentences to create cave drawings of Karana's life on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. (Good whole group activity)

Evaluation of Culminating Activity:

The teacher will assist or monitor the student in organizing information into a well written report. The written report and oral presentation will be evaluated for content, interpretation, clarity of expression. The oral presentation should include the most significant points from the written report. Comparisons between research findings and elements of the story are significant in evaluating the student's comprehension of the material presented.