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Treasure Island Unit Study - Part I

This is the first lesson in the unit study on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Part One is called "The Old Buccaneer".

Treasure Island 1950 Video

Treasure Island (Signet Classic)

For a free ebook version of Treasure Island check out http://www.gspp.com.au/treasure_island.htm.

You may also be interested in the Introduction to the Treasure Island unit study.

Suggested Vocabulary:

Define the meaning as the one used in the book.

bleeding (as a medical treatment)
"the horrors"
tinder box
brace of pistols
revenue officer

Summary of the Book:

From Biblomania.com: "Stevenson's most famous novel and an enduringly popular romance, Treasure Island was published in 1883, although it had appeared initially in Young Folks in serial form July 1881-June 1882 under the alternative title of "The Sea-Cook or Treasure Island". It is of course the author's success, but the novel's conception is interesting. It developed from an imaginary map that Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd Osbourne had devised on holiday and this goes some way towards explaining the book's appeal among children. Moreover, the famous antihero Long John Silver was the invention of Stevenson's friend, William Henley. Nonetheless, the tale is the archetypal nineteenth century 'ripping yarn'. Our narrator is Jim Hawkins, son of a guesthouse owner on the west coast of England sometime in the eighteenth century. To the inn come firstly an old buccaneer who has a map of Captain Flint's treasure, and secondly a group of pirates under the command of ominous blind man Pew. Jim Hawkins, our hero, in an act of bravery and cunning gets hold of the map before this rabid mob gets it. He delivers the map to Squire Trelawney, and together they set off for Treasure Island in the Squire's schooner. The rest of the crew, apart from Dr Livesey (a friend of the squire) are a company collected by Long John Silver. The latter and his men try to mutiny and get hold of the treasure themselves but Jim intervenes and through a series of enthralling adventures we find ourselves on Treasure Island with the marooned Ben Gunn and ever closer to the treasure itself."

Suggested Activities and Questions:

1. In addition to a written definition of the suggested vocabulary words, you may want to make a pictorial dictionary from them.

2. Using the descriptions of each character as they appear in the story, draw pictures of what you think the characters look like.

3. You may wish to study the lives of pirates in the 1700s. How did they dress? What did they eat? How did they live? Where were they from? How did you get to be a pirate captain?

4. Several mini units could be incorporated into this literature unit: treasure hunting, oceanography, sailing, ships of the 1700s, English naval history, etc.

5. You may wish to keep a journal or notebook while doing this unit. You could call is a "ship's log" or "captain's log."

6. Billy Bones, aka "the Captain," had a serious drinking problem. So serious in fact that he worried that if he didn't have a drink he would have "the horrors." This is an old term for delirium tremens. Older students my wish to research this and discover the medical treatment for this condition in the 1700s.

7. What all was inside Billy Bone's mysterious sea chest? If you had to pack a sea chest, what would you pack in it and why?

8. There were many different coins in Billy Bone's money bag. Can you identify what country each coin named was from and what it would have looked like? You may research coin collecting at the library or on the internet to help you find the answers.

9. Treasure Island can seem a very confusing story, where some events seem to happen very quickly and some events seem strung out or told about after the fact. To help keep the storyline straight, create a timeline or flow chart of events.

10. Make your own treasure map up using symbols instead of words. Allow someone else to try and figure it out. How well did they do?

Online Lessons and Resources:




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