Literature Based Unit Studies – Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson

Time for some new resources!  Yay!

Last month, sometime, we listened to Robinson Crusoe: A BBC Radio Full-Cast Dramatization (BBC Children’s Classics)""“.  My eight year old son fell in love and we started a new unit study.  We are endeavoring to read through THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON / ROBINSON CRUSOE and learn some basic survival skills.

Here are some of the links we’ve used so far:

Unit Study – Sites Alive provided this public school unit study that easily adapts to homeschool use.  In it we created a role playing type game in which the kids pretended they were stranded on a deserted island and had to determine what items would be of most use.  They also had to make decisions on how to survive and how to escape.  I adapted this for my much younger kids and they had a blast.

Crayola Robinson Crusoe’s Island – You can use this how-to to create the island for your unit study, especially if you do the unit study found above.

Tobago is the island where the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk, is thought to have landed.  Take a virtual tour of the island here.

Other popular opinion places Selkirk’s landing site here in Chile.  There are many beautiful photos of this site.

I discovered World of Learning after we were already started, but next time I do a literature based unit study I’m going here.  The unit study for “Swiss Family Robinson” is all laid out for you.

And, of course, you can always check out Swiss Family Robinson (Vault Disney Collection)  While not 100% true to the story, it is always a family favorite.   There was also New Swiss Family Robinson [VHS] starring Jane Seymour that was made for TV a few years ago.  What I remember was that it was good, but not as memorable at the Disney version.  Also, some of you may remember the short lived TV series called Crusoe: The Complete Series that aired in 2008 (I think).  Little did I know then that we would be revisiting the story.  What I remember is that it was a good series, but it was also very condensed.  As readers will know, Crusoe spent almost 30 years on the island before being rescued.  While artistic liberties were taken in regards to this point, it was still a good series, but may be a bit intense for younger viewers.

Finally, we took a trip to the library and here is what we found:

It amazes me that this book has not been turned into a movie yet.  It was first read aloud to me by my 5th grade teacher many years ago and remains a favorite, especially for boys.  Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition is the story of a 13 year old boy whose plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness after the pilot has a heart attack.  It tells of Brian’s survival and rescue; and in this special 20th Anniversary Edition, Gary Paulson includes plenty of extras.  Other books in the series (The River (Brian’s Saga Series #2), Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Return and Brian’s Hunt) by Gary Paulson are equally compelling and you always keep reading to find out if he’ll be able to survive again.  Most of these are also available in audio book formats.

Part of our unit study included learning how to survive locally in the Great Plains.  One afternoon, we took a nature walk and gathered specimens.  Later, the kids used Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West to try to identify their findings.  (Please make sure your children can identify poison ivy and other such plants before making this a part of your plans.)

Other great finds include, Crinkleroot’s Guide to Walking in Wild Places (a picture book offering a “commonsense approach” to taking nature walks – was a great resource for learning to identify poisonous plants and dangerous animals) and Fun With Nature (Take Along Guides)  I highly recommend purchasing this last one as it includes blank pages for your kids to record their own observations.

Well, that about does it…I think.  Let me know what you think about these resources and if you have any other suggestions.

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