A Message in a Bottle

Social Studies/Language Arts

Students will create an imaginary tale of travel and adventure.

What You Need

  • Maps of the world, atlases
  • Plastic bottles with caps (one for each child writing a tale)
  • A water table, fish tank, or large basin (optional)

What to Do

  1. Tell students that they are going to write a tale about an imaginary adventure or trip that has left them stranded on a desert island. Explain that their only chance for rescue is to write a message, put it in a bottle, and put the bottle in the water, with the hope that someone will find it.
  2. Brainstorm with students the kind of information they should include in their tales. For example, they might want to explain who they are, where they were going when they got stranded, where they left from, and how they were traveling. They should also include information about where they are, such as the climate, what the island is like, what plants and animals they have seen, and how they are surviving. Record their suggestions on the board or chart paper.
  3. When students are ready to begin writing, make maps and/or atlases available to them. They can refer to the maps if they need help planning their trips or spelling the names of places they might want to include in their tales.
  4. When students have finished their tales, have them place the tales in the bottles and set the bottles afloat in the water table (or whatever container of water you have available).
  5. Then have students fish the bottles (not their own) out of the water, and read aloud the tales within. After reading each tale, they can "rescue" the author by using maps and story details to find approximately where he or she is stranded.

Teaching Options

  • If your class is studying a certain area of the world in social studies, you may want to have them write about being stranded on desert islands off the coasts of countries within that region.
  • You may want to arrange with a teacher from another class to have your tales sent there. Then the students in that class can try to locate the writer of each tale. Your class could do the same with tales from the students in the other class.


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