Sunday, October 28, 2018

Lord of the Flies Introduction and Activities: Insightful, Engaging, and Fun Lord of the Flies Lesson Plan Ideas

Teaching Lord of the Flies is something I grew into loving after many years of struggling through it. I'm not alone. I hear from many English teachers who despised reading Lord of the Flies in school and worry that their students will hate it as much as they did. This doesn't have to be the case! By using Lord of the Flies as a mirror that reflects the darkness of the island represented in our own world, students become intrigued by "the loss of innocence and the darkness of man's heart" and reflect on "what makes things break up like they do" in an effort to regain the same type of hope for their world that the character Ralph latches onto.

Here are some ideas to help you make Lord of the Flies engaging, active, and fun for your students.

Lord of the Flies Introduction and Activites: 

1. Lord of the Flies Introduction- Arguably, the most important day of your Lord of the Flies Unit is the first day. If you can hook students from day one, keeping them engaged throughout the rest of the novel will be much easier. However, Golding doesn't do English teachers any favors by making chapter one lengthy, description heavy, and .....somewhat boring. To combat this, I did a one hour and one dollar classroom transformation, came up with an engaging activity, and decided that sacrificing part of chapter one was worth any side eyes I might receive from literature purists. ;)

Here's what I did:

First I gathered some banana leaves from my yard to make placemats for the student tables, made two palm trees out of green and yellow streamers, and played island ambient sounds from my computer. If you don't have banana leaves, any type of greenery will work. But to be honest, if you wanted to make this even more simple, just take 30 seconds to put on the island ambient sounds because this was the biggest hit of it all!

Next, we read an abridged version chapter one of Lord of the Flies for the reasons stated above and so that my books wouldn't get sticky from our hands-on microcosm activity described below.

For my last attempt at creating a WOW-worthy start to Lord of the Flies, I came up with the idea of having groups work together to create a microcosm. While the cost to make this activity added up, we were able to use these miniature worlds throughout the entire Lord of the Flies novel study, and my students understood the concept of Golding's microcosm more than any other way I've taught it in the past!

1. Plastic Salad Bowls with Lids (cheaper and smaller version option here: plastic cups with lids.)
2. Blue dough, Yellow dough, Green dough, and Pink dough. I bought one large tub for each color except for pink which I only used a small amount of and split it between 20 containers. The bowls and play dough are by far the most expensive part of this project, so if you wanted to save this expense, you could use white styrofoam bowls and have students color the inside and add construction paper. 
3. "Creepers" from the Dollar Store (craft section)
4. Sticks from outside
5.  Shells from WalMart. (I don't live near a beach, but real shells would be better)
6. Plastic army men from the Dollar Store (added later to represent the parachute man)
7. Red jewels from the Dollar Store (added later to represent the fire)
8. Paper clips (added later to represent Piggy's glasses)

I really loved seeing my big kids turn into little kids as soon as they started playing with the supplies I brought it. It was a really fun and effective day! I started the chapter out with the whole class then had students independently read the abridged version and work in groups to make their island look like the one Golding describes. I walked around the room had students talk to me about what the text said that made them put things in certain places. This encouraged students to closely read the text and was an easy way for me to assess their comprehension.
I kept their projects displayed throughout the entire unit on my faux fireplace ledge. :)

If you are reading this post last minute and want an alternative introduction activity for Lord of the Flies, here is an active one that involves zero prep!

2. Activities for Lord of the Flies - After such an engaging start, it was easy to keep students actively reading throughout the rest of the novel!

Here are some lesson plans I used for the rest of the novel: 

1. I used paired informational texts, close reading exercises, and other hands-on activities from my Lord of the Flies novel study 

More activities outlined in the video above which you can also access from my story highlights on Instagram. 

2. Each time something new was introduced to the island, we added it to our microcosms and used sticky notes to write down the symbolism of each item (red jewel for fire, army man for parachute man placement of the "fear" near the "hope" of fire, paperclip for Piggy's glasses, and shell).

3. As a sharp contrast to our peaceful island ambient sounds from the first day back when the island seemed like a utopia, I played "spooky forest" sounds and plugged in my starlight for the creepiest chapter in the book, chapter 8, "A Gift for the Darkness."

4. After the boys on the island started turning violent, I put up a loaded poll, had students walk around the room writing their thoughts about each poll topic, and then had them read the article, "Many Ways to Be a Girl, but One Way to be a Boy: New Gender Rules" from The New York Times. After reading this article, they did a quick write and discussion of how these boy gender rules apply to the boys in Lord of the Flies.

Wrapping Up Lord of the Flies- I feel like we had more important conversations and dug deeper into this book than I ever have before. I wanted to extend our analysis by allowing students to take their thoughts further on the topics we discussed throughout the novel. To do this, we focused on what Golding was trying to tell us about the world based on the microcosm he created. Some chose to write about toxic masculinity, others wrote about why girls weren't included in his world, or about the boys' pressure to turn violent, or about the concept of fear and war in the world. While the microcosms above might look like fun and games, they concreted the purpose behind each element Golding added into his mini world and what those concepts tell us about our world today.

If you would like to use my complete Lord of the Flies Unit Plan, you can find that here: Lord of the Flies Unit Plan 

While I don't include further directions for the microcosm in this unit (everything is explained in this post), I do include close reading guides, test questions, critical thinking activities, and further hands-on activities such as the hut building activity described in this post: STEM in ELA

I hope this post helps you to reframe your thinking around teaching Lord of the Flies and inspires you to try some new strategies with your students! Please share the love with other English teachers who would benefit from these ideas by repinning and share this post.

Thank you!

Ashley Bible

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