Island of the Blue Dolphins

by Scott O'Dell

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Island of the Blue Dolphins

Scott O'Dell won the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins in 1961, and in 1976 the Children's Literature Association named this riveting story one of the ten best American children's books of the past 200 years. The book is based on the real-life story of a 12-year-old American Indian girl, Karana. In the early 1800s, she was stranded on a small island off the coast of California. Karana faced grave dangers and survived, in isolation, for 18 years before leaving the island to live in the Santa Barbara Mission.

Enrichment Activities
Internet Resources
Books by Scott O'Dell

Enrichment Activities

    Museum of Images
  • This book is rich in visual images "painted" by the author. Have students find a favorite passage and create a painting that comes to them from the imagery of the passage. Create a class museum with the artwork. Have the viewing students try to find the passage in the book that is represented by the artwork.

    National Park
  • Pretend that the Island of the Blue Dolphins (San Nicholas Island) is becoming a national park. The students will draw a map of the island based on the descriptions from the book. Have students write and illustrate a brochure for visitors to the new island park. Finally, in teams, have students create (using art materials) monuments or tributes to Karana that will be scattered around the park. Encourage them to highlight significant events from the story. You may want to assign the events in order to avoid duplicated efforts.

    Ingenious Inventions
  • Karana is forced to create many ingenious inventions with very little resources. Divide your students into cooperative groups. Provide each group with the following materials:
    • Three Popsicle sticks
    • One elastic band
    • A piece of string
    • Glue
    • Anything else you have handy

    Tell the students that they are to invent a tool (as Karana did) with the materials you have provided. Encourage them to brainstorm possible tools before beginning construction.

    An Animal's Point of View
  • Animals play an important role in Karana's life. They become her friends and companions. Ask students to pick one of the animals from the book (Rontu, the red fox, the birds, etc.). The children will write and illustrate a diary by that critter about life with Karana on the Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Internet Resources

Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary
Grade Levels: All
Learn about the Santa Barbara Channel where the Island of the Dolphins lies.

Current Weather Conditions – San Nicholas Island
Grade Levels: All
Find the latest temperature, wind velocity, and more.

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