Mystery of Teardrop Island

part two of a two-part story by Geoffrey McSkimming , illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Learning Intention

I am learning about the way that setting can affect the plot of a story so that I can consider the way I use setting in my own writing.

Success Criteria

  • I can identify the elements of a desert island setting.
  • I can consider the challenges this setting would present to story characters.
  • I can use my understanding of this setting to build a story.

Essential knowledge

To guide students in organising their ideas into narrative form, watch The School Magazine’s video Narrative.


Prior to reading the text, create a collaborative word wall by asking students what words they may use to describe an island setting. Answers may include:

  • Beach
  • Fish
  • Palm trees
  • Sand
  • Shells
  • Tropical
  • Crabs
  • Lagoon
  • Paradise
  • Salty smell
  • Sea breeze
  • The best coconuts growing on the biggest coconut trees in the world
  • Sandy beaches.

Ask students if they are familiar with the story trope of being stranded on a desert island and discuss examples of this in classic and contemporary movies and literature such as:

  • Shipwreck Island
  • Stranded
  • Nim’s Island
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Swiss Family Robinson.

Watch the video The Thornberry Family Braves Through a Monsoon. Ask students what challenges the family faced in the clip when they were stranded on the island. Answers should include:

  • The dangers of the wind and rain in a monsoon
  • Being locked out of their kombi, leaving them without shelter
  • A large wave coming towards them.

Discuss the way the family solved these problems by using their kombi’s muffler as a lightning rod to short circuit the vehicle’s electricity and let them back in, protecting them from the weather and allowing them to float on the water.

Ask students to think pair and share other challenges characters in stories might face if stranded on a desert island. Answers may include:

  • Finding food, water and shelter
  • Being vulnerable to dangerous wildlife
  • Lack of medical access if injuries occur
  • Attempting to escape in dangerous conditions
  • Uncertainty about the lay of the land and any risks such as caves, sinkholes or falling trees.

Write students’ answers on the board.

Creating text

Inform students that they will be wring their own story about being stranded on a desert island. To do this, they may use the ideas from the list of answers on the board, or any other challenges they can think of that link with the setting of an island, and what problems these may cause. They should then consider how the problems their characters face may be solved through creative ways, as was depicted in the video.

Assessment as learning

The Stage 2 Assessment and Evaluation Rubric for Imaginative Texts may be used to guide students in their writing. It should also be used by students to self-assess their narratives before handing them in to the teacher.