You’ve taught Hatchet and loved it, but it’s time to find a new adventure-survival novel. And Sweet Friday Island could be just the one you’ve been looking for. Why? Because it offers some things Hatchet doesn’t — for one, it has a girl as the main character! Peg Toland takes a camping trip with her father Sam, where she is forced to become responsible for his survival, in other words, the child and parent switch roles in being the caretaker. Two more reasons to consider giving Sweet Friday Island a try are that it features an unusual habitat that most students will not be familiar with — a desert island in Baja Mexico; and one of the characters has diabetes, so students will become familiar with this prevalent disease as well. Sweet Friday Island is a book full of life lessons which will make your students question how they would react in the same situation, and consequently, learn something about themselves. The novel is by author Theodore Taylor, well-known for his award-winning novels The Cay, The Weirdo, and Sniper. The reading level of the novel is appropriate for 7th through 12th graders, but I have used it for 6th graders too. This unit includes several ways to test students’ comprehension of the novel, including:
1, Chapter Quizzes with 225 vocabulary-matching, short answer, and multiple choice questions
2. Constructive Response Questions which ask the student to analyze the plot, character, or setting of the book and write a short essay response. There are six of these questions, and they can either be used for written responses or orally for class discussion. The questions focus on how the setting affects the action; mistakes the main characters make; how students judge the justifications which characters make for their decisions; and whether they would make the same decisions in a fight for survival.
3. A Conflict Quiz asking students to identify 15 events in the book as to type of conflict: Man vs. Man; Man vs. Nature; Man vs. Society; or Man vs. Self. Students are also required to explain why they believe an event represents a specific type of conflict. A slide show accompanies this part of the unit to aid the teacher in explaining and illustrating the six main types of conflict.
4. A Quiz on figurative language with students asked to identify 25 phrases from Sweet Friday Island as examples of either personification or simile.
Teachers can also challenge students to be creative in their reaction to the setting of the novel or wilderness camping in one of three graded projects. These focus on:
1. Making a hand-drawn, colored map of Sweet Friday Island, identifying 14 points of interest on the map with labels and illustrations.
2. Creating a 3-fold, double sided brochure advertising a tour company’s package of an adventure camping trip on Sweet Friday Island, highlighting hiking and boating tours and photos of the wildlife and geography of the island.
3. Writing trip reports of an imaginary camping trip in a U.S. National Park as though the student would be posting it to an online blog. The reports would feature the natural wonders of the park, along with the student’s camping experience and meals they prepared, plus what adventurous things they did, like hiking, visiting historical sites, horseback riding, rock climbing, boating, etc.
Answer sheets and/or Grading Rubrics are available for all quizzes and projects. All documents in the unit are available for download as PDFs and the slide show is available in both Apple’s Keynote and MicroSoft’s PowerPoint.