Literature unit study based on The Swiss Family Robinson
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
You will also need to use the internet or encyclopedias.
Throughout the book, the family encounters many interesting animals. Start a nature notebook, and draw each of these animals and describe them, including where they live and what they eat. They also find many interesting plants. You could also draw each of these plants and describe what they are useful for.
Chapter 1: The father uses a lever to lift up part of his boat. Make your own lever to lift something. It could be as simple as lifting a book with a ruler, or as complicated as you would like.
Chapter 2: There are penguins and flamingos on the island. Try to figure out where the island is. As you continue to read the book and encounter more animals, you can narrow the location down even further, or determine if the place is entirely fictional. You could use a blank world map. Plot the different animals on the map using symbols or shading and a legend.
Chapter 3: They find sugar cane. Research the process used to make sugar.
Chapter 4: They learn you must have a hole in both ends of the sugar cane in order to get anything out. Try this with a straw. Fill it with some sugar, but close up one end with tape. Try to suck the sugar out. Then try it without the end taped.
Chapter 5: They make a sail and rudder for their raft. Learn the different parts of a ship.
Chapter 6: The mother suggests building a tree house. Design your own tree house.
Chapter 7: They build a bridge using a pulley system. Try to recreate this pulley system on a small scale.
Chapter 9: They use geometry to figure out how long to make their rope ladder. Figure out how long of a ladder you will need for the tree house you designed earlier.
Chapter 10: They name places on their island. Find out how your town was named.
Chapter 12: They go back to the wreck to get useful things. The ship was meant to supply a new colony. What would you have taken if you were supplying a new colony?
Chapter 14: The mother plants a garden. Find out what the growing season is like on a tropical island.
Chapter 15: They find many useful plants. Find out what kinds of useful plants there are in your area. Try to find some of these and use them.
Chapter 17: They get a young buffalo, jackal, and eagle as pegs. Do a little research about these animals and write about whether or not they would be good pets.
Chapter 18: They talk about grafting fruit trees. Read Romans 11:17. You could also visit a local greenhouse and have them show you how grafting is done.
Chapter 19: They are gathering provisions for the rainy season. Find out how long the rainy season lasts in the tropics?
Chapter 20: They find a cavern full of rock salt. They also preserve fish. Find out where salt comes from. Visit a salt mine if you are close to one. Compare how they preserve their meat with how we preserve food today.
Chapter 22: Look up the story of Milo of Cortona.
Chapter 23: Have your own sports carnival.
Chapter 25: They find a whale. Research what else a whale could be used for.
Chapter 26: Father makes a rowing machine. Invent your own rowing machine on a toy boat.
Chapter 27: They encounter a boa constrictor. Find out more about the boa constrictor and what poisonous snakes are in your area.
Chapter 28: They find fuller's earth. What is it?
Chapter 32: They have no tan for tanning bear skins. Find out more about the tanning process. Find a nature center nearby that will demonstrate tanning.
Chapter 34: They have a harvest of wheat. How was wheat usually harvested then and how is wheat harvested today.
Chapter 35: They used pigeons to relay messages. How are pigeons trained for this? Are they still used today?
Chapter 38: They discover oysters with pearls. Find out how pearls are formed. Why were the pearls worthless to them?
After finishing the book, have the children write about whether they would have stayed on the island or gone back to Europe and why.