Margaret Wise Brown’s award winning book, The Little Island is a picture book with depth. Although this book can be linked to a variety of curriculum areas, the subject matter lends itself most strongly to geography and science.
The language is simplistic and ideal for phonics. Incorporated in the story are CVC words such as “big” “bat” and “red” there are “sh” words such as “shell” “shore and “shining” The children can discuss their favourite parts of the story, write reviews, make their own nature books and write or draw what they can see in their school environment.
Venn diagrams can be used as a whole class or small group activity. It can be as simple as colour such as having red fish, yellow fish and red and yellow fish. The activity depends upon the ability of the children. Data can be collated such as favourite animals and presented in a bar graph or tally chart. Number problems can be made up related to the book.
When comparing the changes to the seasons the children can explain what happens in the story. How is the island different in summer? In the story there are adult living things such as the seal and then there are babies such as the kitten. The children can think about adult and baby animals. The living things can be classified, depending upon ability such as “lives on land”, “lives in the sea” or “both”. Life cycles of living things can be introduced and the children can create their own life cycle charts of a human, a frog, or a butterfly.
Art/Design and Technology
The detailed illustrations are inspiring. Using different kinds of art mediums such as paints, pencil crayons, or collage the children can create their own scenes. An island scene can be created using papiermache, or other suitable modelling materials to bring the illustrations to life. Children who are studying animals or plants and flowers can draw or make flowers and animals that can be added to a classroom display.
In pairs or small groups the children can decide what they would like to research about the author, such as date of birth, books she has written and family life. The information collated can be shared with the class and added to a working wall display. Information about animals, living things and oceans can also be researched. Photographs can be taken of the local area or living things found in the school playground and compared with the illustrations in the book. Science games from the BBC website can be played
What is an island? Which creatures live on an island? These are some of the questions that can be explored. Comparing the island in the story to the place where the children live is also another example of thinking about their own locality. For children who live in a country that is an island how is this different to the small island in the book. Exploring seas and oceans is also another area that can be looked at.
The seasons and the weather can be explored in music. Songs about the weather, animals or seasons can be performed during music. Older children can compose their own weather music in small groups and share it with their peers.
In PE the children can think about the seasons and animals mentioned in the book and suitable music can be found where the children can move quickly when there is a storm or slowly when everything is quiet. They can think about the different positions or actions they can move to when a fish, fast and darting or a spider slowly spinning a web. Games can be made up where the children have to walk, hop or skip round the gym and then run to the island ( a group of mats in the centre) when a whistle blows. The last one to the island is out.
In conclusion The Little Island has plenty of scope in a primary setting. Most of all is a fascinating book with depth and beautiful illustrations.