"My Little Island"
-written and illus. by Frané Lessac
Learning to appreciate and experience another culture is a real adventure.
Topics For Discussion
Invite students to share a vacation experience. Where did they go? What did they do there? What was the most interesting, exciting, or favorite part of the trip? (This discussion can be adapted for "wish" vacations-trips that students would like to take.)
The narrator in the story invited his friend Lucca to go to the island where he was born. Discuss what made this trip so special for both boys.
Discuss with students where they enjoy going with a special friend when they have the opportunity to invite, or be invited to accompany, a friend on an outing.
Have students compare and constrast the market experience in the story with their own shopping excursions.
Curriculum Extension Activities
Invite students to imagine that an out-of-town friend their own age is coming for a visit for three days and that they are in charge of showing that person around. Have students plan the sightseeing and activities for their friend. Give students a 12 x 18 sheet of drawing paper that can be divided into three sections. Label the sections: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. In each section, have them draw and label the local attractions they will visit and events they will take part in. Provide time for students to share their guests' itineraries.
Make a large outline of the island in the story on a piece of bulletin board paper that is long enough so that several students can work at it at the same time. (Ask students to recall what it looks like from the air-a giant green turtle.) As a class, make decisions about where to place the areas of the island that the narrator and his friend Lucca visit and lightly demarcate these places. Working in small cooperative groups, have students reproduce these areas of the island. They will need to decide where to put the mountains, the volcano, the village, the "rainbow" houses, the school, the carnival, etc. Both the book and program will give them many ideas for what to put in each site, but they also may wish to consult additional sources for information about rain forests, seashores, marketplaces, and other areas. One group of students may take the reponsibility for painting or coloring the ocean and the background of the island and for making a map key. Because many students may potentially want to work on the map at the same time, have them create what they want to include in their area away from the map and add it later.
Locate a market that sells unusual fruits, such as those that grow in tropical climates, and purchase a sampling. Have a tasting party with these fruits. Have students examine the skins as well as the insides. Which have edible skins? Discuss the textures. Are they sweet or tart? Compare and contrast these fruits to types of fruit with which students are more familiar.
Have students find information about some of the plants and animals mentioned in the story and record interesting facts on paper along with an illustration. Post their findings around the edges of the island map from the a bove activity.
View other Reading Rainbow programs that show the vibrancy of different types of communities. Encourage students to notice not only the qualities that make these communities unique, but also the characteristics that they share. Possible programs include: Borreguita and the Coyote (MexicanAmerican community), Liang and the Magic Paintbrush (New York's Chinatown), Legend of the Indian Paintbrush (Taos Pueblo, New Mexico), The Milk Makers (farm), The Wonderful Towers of Watts (Watts area of Los Angeles), The Lotus Seed (Vietnam, Yemen, Russia, South Africa), Alejandro's Gift (southwestern U.S. desert), and others.
Listen to some calypso and reggae music. What instruments do the students hear? Do the rhythms remind them of other types of music? Clap hands or snap fingers to the beat. Push the desks back and invite students to move according to the way the music makes them feel.
LeVar traveled to Montserrat by airplane. Brainstorm other ways in which people might travel to an island. After students have considered the logical possibilities, invite them to use their imaginations and think of creative ways to travel to an island.
Since the filming of this Reading Rainbow program, the volcano on the island of Montserrat has erupted. Have students research volcanoes. Where are other active volcanoes located in or near the United States? Enlist the aid of the library media specialist in locating information about the Montserrat volcano.
Locate the Caribbean Sea on a map. Find the island of Montserrat. Look at the names of other Caribbean islands. What names do the students recognize? Based on what they see on the map, ask them to define "island."
THE CALYPSO ALPHABET
A CARIBBEAN DOZEN: POEMS FROM CARIBBEAN POETS
CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL: SONGS OF THE WEST INDIES
A CARIBBEAN COUNTING BOOK
I HAVE NEWS: RHYMES FROM THE CARIBBEAN
ONE SMILING GRANDMA
A Little Little Island
island, land forms
An island is a mountain or other piece of land surrounded by water.
It's easy to think that an island is a clump of land floating on top of the water, but an island is a landmass that juts out of the water. All islands are part of the ocean floor, just as mountains are part of the landscape.
Oil-based modeling clay, tub, water, blue and green food coloring, paper, pencils, crayons.
Wrapped In A Blanket Of Water
islands, temperatures, water, air
Ocean water around islands changes temperature very slowly.
Many Caribbean islands, like Montserrat, have mild warm weather most of the year. One reason the weather stays fairly constant is that the Pacific Ocean, a very large body of water, surrounds the islands. Compared to the changeability of air temperature, ocean temperatures are very stable.
Clay model of an island in a tub of water (made in the A Little Little Island activity), two small thermometers, cool area such as a refrigerator or outside on a cold day, modeling clay, craft sticks, paper, and pencils.
A young boy takes his best friend to visit Montserrat, the Caribbean
Social Studies Concepts
Geography / Transportation
Before watching the video, have students brainstorm what they know about an island and record their ideas in a word web. Then find the word "island" in the dictionary or picture encyclopedia and add to the word web. Since an island is surrounded by water, list all possible means of transportation to and from as well as on an island. After viewing, invite students to suggest additional ideas for the web.
Using a world map or map that features the Caribbean, have students locate the island of Montserrat and then list all the islands surrounding it. Students can use self-stick notes to mark all the places the boys in the book visited.
Create or designate a hidden treasure and provide students with a map for finding it. Give them simple directions to follow and have them work in small groups using the map to locate the treasure. Then have the groups plan their own treasure hunt by designating a treasure and making their own map. Trade these among the groups so everyone can go treasure hunting again.
Directions for creating a treasure map
Family / Geography
Have students form small discussion groups to talk about favorite family trips or vacations. Suggest that they tell where they traveled by using a map to show the place, and by using words to describe the area, such as a mountain, lake, seashore, forest, etc. Have them conclude their descriptions by sharing a high point of the trip.
The two friends in My Little Island went on a vacation to the Caribbean. Discuss with students why this was such a special vacation. Where did the two friends go when they visited? What is the culture of the island like? How is life on this tropical island different and similar to life in your community? After reviewing the feature book with students, have them work with a partner to create a two-column chart. In one column have them list the similarities between an island home and theirs, and in the other column have them list the differences. Discuss which column has the most items.
If possible, invite a person with a Caribbean background to your classroom. Ask the visitor to discuss Caribbean culture and lifestyle. Encourage them to bring pictures, music, and other items that will help students understand the uniqueness of the culture.