Lost on an Island Writing Prompt

I was looking through some books in our classroom yesterday when I came across these laminated cards that picture school supplies and other objects. I’m not sure what they were used for in the past, but I thought I could turn them into a fun writing prompt for my fourth graders.

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I first told the class that we were going to pretend we were lost on an island. We had been shipwrecked and didn’t have any tools with us except for three random items. I chose three cards out of my stack and used magnets to put them on the whiteboard.

As a class, we brainstormed ideas of what we could do with these objects. Maybe the flag could be a sail for a raft or a signal for another boat to come rescue us. Maybe the scissors could be used for cutting through the brush. Maybe we could carve a message on the eraser and send it out for someone to find.

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I began a sample paragraph on the board that started with “If I were lost on an island, I would use…” I told the students that they would each get three cards and would have to write a paragraph about how they would use each item to help them on the island.

Although the first class I tried this activity on groaned “nooooooo” when I said we were going to do some writing, they were soon laughing as I passed out their cards. The students talked with each other about uses for each object and some of them drew webs of ideas in their notebooks like I had on the board. For some of them, it was hard at first to think of a way to use each thing. They kept telling me they didn’t know what they could do with the cards they had. I gave some ideas, but also simply encouraged them think about it. By the end of class, everyone had a paragraph.

One student wrote that he would use a table as a raft and a ruler to “wack” pirates with. For catching fish, one student wrote he would make a slingshot using rubber bands and another said she would bend paper clips into fish hooks. One girl wrote that she would fill a trashcan with water to drink and another said she would use a whistle to catch the attention of passing ships.

Some of the students finished their paragraphs quickly and I said they could write a second one with new items if they wanted. I had a few people write two or even three paragraphs!

Towards the end of class, I had the students read their paragraphs to each other. The reader came to the front of the room and I used magnets to put the three objects they had written about on the board. That way everyone got to see what random objects their classmates had received.

I really enjoyed this lesson and hope the kids did too! I loved seeing them think creatively and have fun practicing their writing skills.


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