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Treasure Island:
A Literature Unit Study - Intro

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is a great choice for a high-interest literature unit study. There is adventure, mystery, good vs. evil, crime and punishment, reward, interesting and exciting characters, and so much more!

As with many classics, there are several versions of Treasure Island on the market. The edition that I am using for this unit was originally published by Classic Press, Inc. in 1968.

The literature unit itself is published on the following pages:

Part I: Chapters 1 - 6
Part II: Chapters 7 - 12
Part III: Chapters 13 - 15
Part IV: Chapters 16 - 21
Part V: Chapters 22 - 27
Part VI: Chapters 28 - 34 and concluding activities

Each part includes suggested vocabulary, comprehension questions, activities, and miscellaneous useful links.

If you would like to download a free copy of Treasure Island, one of the best downloads that I've found is available from FernCanyonPress. There are also a few interesting trivia bits at the site including an explanation of the pirate shanty "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest" that we are all familiar with from Treasure Island.

LearnLibrary also has Treasure Island available on line or as a download, as does Online-Literature.com.

Book Summary from Bibliomania. 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 Treaure 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.

These are some introductory activities to prepare for the reading of Treasure Island. I will continue to add additional activities, crafts, etc. with each part of the unit. You may also wish to search books and the internet for even more ideas to use with your study.

My first suggestion to you would be to find a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson was a rather interesting character in his own right and Treasure Island is dedicated to his step-son, Lloyd Osbourne. Even if you don't read a full biographical sketch of his life, several of the links below lead you to information which will help you gain a better understanding of Stevenson:

The Robert Louis Stevenson website
Robert Louis Stevenson's biography
ClassicNote for Treasure Island

Arts and Crafts:

Arts and Crafts are wonderful ways in which to expand on a theme or story. I've listed several themed crafts below that you may want to do before or concurrently with while reading Treasure Island. I'll also add others through out the various parts of this unit that are specifically appropriate to the various chapters.

Pirate Paper Doll (for younger children)
Milk Carton Pirate Ship
Newspaper Sailor Hats
Pirate Bookmarks
Ship in a Ballooon
Spyglass telescope
Treasure Chest Craft
Treasure Map Craft
Pirate Themed Party Ideas
Treasure Chest from Enchanted Learning
Ocean Crafts from Enchanted Learning
Pirate Theme from ChildFun.com
Pirate Themed bedroom from HGTV

Snack and Food Ideas:

You can actually add some math into your reading by incorporating cooking into your lesson plans. There are fractions, measurements, addition, subjection, geometry and more as you make themed snacks. Below are some ideas that I've used myself as well as some that I've found across the web and by talking to other mothers and educators.

Feed hungry pirates a variety of snacks from the sea: tunafish salad, clam chowder, goldfish crackers, and Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice cream (it has little chocolate fish in it).

Turn a plain white round cake into a scary pirate's face by drawing eyes, nose, mouth, and mustache with an icing tube. Next, place a plastic eyepatch over one eye, and add two gold-colored bangle bracelets on each side of the cake to resemble earrings. Serve the cake on a platter covered with a red bandanna.

Fill goody bags with lots of pirate booty: gold-coin chocolate candies, plastic faux-gem rings, strands of faux pearls, a plastic eyepatch, and perhaps a miniature plastic treasure chest with a piece of candy inside.

Sea Wolf Sandwiches (canned tuna and mayo) - from ChildFun.com -- Be sure beforehand that no children have allergies to seafood.  This could be fatal to a child who is allergic to fish.

Exotic Nectars - from ChildFun.com -- fruit juice with coconut milk added

Pirate Ships - from ChildFun.com -- Make the boats from halved bread rolls covered with peanut butter, with paper sails on cocktail sticks.

Pirate's Pie

On Line Lessons:

Treasure Island is a great time to include lessons on map reading and geography concepts such as oceans, seas, and islands. Some online lessons specific to Treasure Island follow:

Long John Silver's Quiz
Notes on Treasure Island and Piracy
Ocean Explorers
Ahoy Matey
Treasure Island activities from the young skeptics program
Island Geography
Ocean Thematic Unit
Pirate Ghosts from Discovery Online


A treasure hunt works with almost any theme but is particularly effective with a pirate theme. Before the party or lesson begins, hide a small "treasure chest" or "treasure bag" filled with sufficient treats for all the guests. Then make funny clues that move the children from one area to another.

Find out your pirate name is for older kids. Could be funny, or not, depending on your point of view.



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