Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
An all-time classic- must read, according to my kids and students. Out of our #52weeksofliteraturefun my kids said this was in the top 3. I asked them to pick 5 book reads they think every class or family should read aloud and this is #1. As you can guess, it’s been read several times and it does not get old for the older children and is not too dull with new projects they explore with the younger children and students.
This novel is a family is sailing on a ship and a storm misplaces them, stranded on an island. Adventurous, entertaining, out of the box thinking makes this novel exciting, entertaining and engages the listener. There are so many teaching points, perspectives and trails one could lead with this novel, which may be another reason we have read it more than twice. (Besides upon request.) This book is one of our Oceans and Islands book selections for book club. So I will try not to overlap with the previous posts on the #52weeksofliteraturefun literature books; however, any of the island theme activities could be done for the Swiss Family Robinson book as well.
Chapter 1 & 2
- Shipwrecked Coloring page and look for other coloring pages here related to Swiss Family Robinson.
- “Usefulness” fun. Copy work Lay a variety of household things or random “trash” out on the table and have the students creatively explain how they could be useful if stranded with “nothing”.
- Main Characters Worksheet
- Science sink or float Fun (gather objects around you and your school/home, take to creek/pond/bathtub/plastic tote of water, and test them. Do they sink or float?)
- Clay Leaf bowls (part 1- form with clay to dry)
- Draw your island. You are shipwrecked, what does the island you land on look like? What creatures are there? Short story writing project of “When I reached the island I saw ____________?
- The Robinson’s reach shore and “build” a tent like structure. If you have the space and resources, have the students do the same. (Inside could be table and sheets, outside could be tarps/ etc.)
- The family ate soup with seashells and saved corn to sow later. Take a trip to the beach and look for shells.
- Look for store bought vegetables or fruits you can regrow and sow later.
- Study Coconuts, dissect, inspect, find 2 great recipes with coconut, etc.
- Go to your local water source and pick a creature to locate. For us, the nearest was a small creek. We found as many crayfish as possible. (Living and evidence of depleted as well.)
- Draw a picture of the animals being rescued from the shipwreck, being brought to shore.
- Study the fermentation process and make a display chart for each stage.
Chapters 3 & 4
- Plant vegetable seeds. Depending on your location and season, this can be a simple summer squash in a bucket that you can hand pollinate, a mini veggie garden appropriate for where you live, a few indoor lettuce seeds for salads. Whichever is most appropriate and fits for you.
- Study “sugars” and how sugar is made, where it comes from. In particular sugar cane, as mentioned in the book.
- We made “flavored honey straws”. Check my post on the simple steps here.
- Research Kangaroos. On their continent, what other unique animals can only be found there? Research and make a diorama.
- Study monkeys.
- Creative writing: If I had a pet monkey __________________.
- Take a trip to the zoo.
- Research how to construct a raft. How would you make it different for an ocean, a river or a lake? Or would you? Why or why not?
- If able, construct a small makeshift raft.
Chapters 5 & 6
- Transplant or plant an outdoor vegetable garden. (Or indoor herb garden if space is limited.)
- Bake Cassava bread. (flat bread)
- Research iguanas. How big do they get? Take a trip to the pet store.
- Study ships and sailing.
- Learn and create a lever and pulley.
- Construct a rope ladder. (Doubles as a fire escape ladder.)
- Study chickens. (If you have some, perhaps hatch/incubate eggs.)
- Eggshell art. (Blow out an egg clean & let dry. Paint an ocean picture on the egg.)
- Make a tree fort. (Or pretend with blankets if options are limited.)
Chapters 7 & 8
- Research different species of animals that live in packs, herds or groups.
- Set up a bird viewing area. (Large or small works) Attract as many varieties as possible in a select time frame by studying their favorite treats and food varieties. (We took pictures and made a scrapbook of all the different varieties.) This became a hobby for us and we have adapted this yearly to see if we can attract a “new to us” species each spring.
- Keep a nature journal.
- Plant potatoes or do a sweet potato project. (Place toothpicks in potato so only the bottom half is in a jar of water. Place somewhere warm and dark for several weeks. Once long roots form, place on the window sill & watch it take off. ~ Great to help transition into any botany study.)
- Calculate a fortnight.
- Salt art project. (colored)
- Salt experiments.
- Go on regular nature hikes and keep an insect field guide handy. (Journal and sketch each insect you encounter.)
Chapters 9 &10
- Study coral reef. (If you haven’t yet)
- Research all the varieties of whales.
- Pick a specific whale and research. Share and offer a presentation report to your “class” or family. (Offer to bring a display made individually or as a class to your local library.)
- On the island the Robinson’s encounter mammals, fish birds, reptiles and amphibians. Create a poster with the 5 groups and draw, cut out, paste pictures and place them into their proper category.
- The Robinson’s start preparing for a “longer stay” and comforts. Creative writing. “If I were stranded on an island, I wouldn’t want to be without a/ my ___________________________.” Expand with 3 supportive sentences on why.
Chapters 11 &12
- Study rivers.
- Locate local rivers in your area. Were any of them used long ago to transport goods to your town? How?
- Optional study on the lumber towns/ logging camps.
- The Robinson’s were preparing plants to help in the future. Look where you live. Are there wild edibles. (Perhaps a field guide and journal can be added to your nature walks. Or just research a couple from your area.)
- If you have wild edibles in your area, find something to harvest and prepare with your students/ children.)
- Study condors.
- Make a list of other scavenger animals.
- The Robinson’s name their island, how was your local town or state named? Research.
- Study Buffalo.
Chapters 13 & 14
- Study seasons for the tropic regions.
- Study seasons and how they vary around the world. (Snow versus rainy season.)
- Sew a bean bag or a simple sewing project.
- Study Sea turtles.
- Research what grows on a tropical island for food. (Mother plants a garden.)
- Study the history of fur trading and trading posts.
- Make a birch bark craft.
Chapters 15 &16
- Study the African Bull frog.
- Learn about aqueducts.
- Study early explorers.
- Study Oysters and how pearls form.
- Creative write a chapter if you were stranded on an island for 10 years and saw another person for the first time. How would you respond? Feel? React? What if you knew them from years ago, how would it be different?
- Visit a local greenhouse.
- Plant bean or large pumpkin seeds and journal the growth by week. (Entry each Friday on the changes-if any.)
Chapters 17 & book completion. (Apply accordingly to which printed text you read.)
- Discuss practical skills the book talked about.
- Study plant life cycle.
- Have a sports event day.
- Study they Olympics and how they began.
- Learn about Boa Constrictors.
- Study tanning hides.
- Make a simple leather craft.
- Visit a local farm and see a harvester today.
- Bake wheat bread.
- Plan the perfect “island life”. What would make it survival versus vacation. (Remember amenities do not change, is it possible?)
- If you were one of the Robinson’s who would you be? Would you leave or stay on the island? Why or why not?
- Write “the rest of the story” on what you think happens next. (As a class or individually.)
I hope you have as much fun as we do with this book!
Enjoy & Happy Reading!