Today I’m featuring one of my most popular products, my nonfiction book unit for Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World. The book is perfect for a January book study; it’s set in the coldest, harshest environment on earth–Antarctica.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World tells the incredible true story of Ernest Shackleton and his team of 27 intrepid scientists and sailors as they sailed from England with the intention of being the first to cross the frozen continent of Antarctica on foot. As you might suspect from the title, though, all does not go according to plan. Their ship, Endurance, gets stuck in the icy waters before Shackleton and his team can make it to land.
What happens Shackleton and his crew after the shipwreck? I’m not going to spoil the story for you by giving you a timeline of the unbelievable events that transpired, but I will say that (as you might have guessed) there are survivors that lived to tell the tale of this amazing adventure.
Jennifer Armstrong did an excellent job with this book. The tale is based off of the journals of the crew members and the text is peppered with quotes from Shackleton and his crew. A photographer was among Shackleton’s crew, and his black and white photos help bring the harshness and desperation of the story to life. Shipwreck was the recipient of the following awards:
- ALA Best Books for Young Adults–WINNER 2000
- ALA Notable Children’s Book–WINNER 1999
- NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children–WINNER 1999
- Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award–NOMINEE 2002
- ages 8-14
- Lexile score: 1090
- 144 pages
My accompanying book unit has everything that you need for an in-depth study of the book. The 157 page unit includes:
- a 60+ page student packet with questions for each chapter to answer and discuss
- anticipation guide
- vocabulary bookmark while reading
- animal sort graphic organizer: sort mammals & birds
- crossword puzzles to reinforce vocabulary
- vocabulary matching quiz
- whole-book final quiz
- explore text structure activity
- explore theme activity
- pictures of the crew for interactive bulletin board, instructions included
- graphic organizer of words to describe ice
- link to current events: 33 miners were trapped underground in Chile in 2010. Have students read about their situation and compare it to Shackleton’s. A movie about the miners came out in 2015. Watch it and compare!
- team-building activity— Students must accomplish by communicating nonverbally
- survival activity – student must do some critical thinking to choose things to take with them or to discard that will help them survive
- sextant activity – students can make a sextant and, as homework, find the North Star and figure out their latitude
- list of websites to extend learning, including videos on YouTube of the PBS’s show about Shackleton
- suggested fictional short story with similar situation/theme for students to read/compare text features, theme development, etc.
- Teacher answer keys included!
This is such a wonderful heroic winter tale–you and your students sure to love it!