We were not planning on doing White Dolphin as one of our literature books but we spotted it in the local library and my kids are still talking about how much they enjoyed Sky Hawk so I thought – why not? We borrowed the book and I downloaded the FREE teacher pack from OUP site and plans changed we suddenly had a new literature unit. Really it was spur of the moment, we borrowed the book on the Saturday and that Monday we started reading it and working through the lesson plans. That’s how easy it is to use these Rollercoaster packs – no extra prep work is needed, you just need your book and a printer and you are set.
Okay so firstly what are our impressions about the actual story?
We loved the story (both my kids are now massive fans of Gill Lewis). The story centers around a young girl, Kara whose mother went missing about a year ago and since then everything seems to have crumbled. Her dad is struggling with work and money and they are living at her Aunt’s house. Kara is also struggling to fit in at school (she is being picked on by the town bully and she is dyslexic). But then Kara spots a while dolphin, something which she takes as a sign from her mother and the precious white dolphin gets injured. Kara is determined to save the white dolphin and to save her local bay from the damage caused by dredging. While all this is going on she also starts to slowly build a good friendship with the new boy in town, Felix, who happens to be disabled. I don’t want to give too much away but there is a climax involving Kara rescuing the town bully and there is a happy ending (although I must stress part of the ending is Kara admitting that her mom is dead and she is never returning).
All of these events are woven together to create a story about overcoming hardship and heartache, about the power of friends and the importance of preserving nature. The nature theme is a strong one and I don’t think any kid who reads this story would disagree with the point made that if we don’t preserve it and only use it in a sustainable way there will be nothing left. But for us the nature theme although important is second to that of the human story of a young girl struggling after the loss of her mother, a young girls who feels alone and isolated and how she moves full circle into a place of acceptance and happiness.
My kids really enjoyed this story. And I think there were some powerful themes in it that made it a story that is not only enjoyable to read but worthwhile to read.
As I mentioned above Oxford University Press have created one of their FREE to download Rollercoaster Teacher Packs to go with this story. The entire pack is 41 pages long (but you don’t need to print out all 41 pages we just print the pages that we need).
The pack starts off with an Overview of the the scheme of work – they have basically broken the book down into 12 lessons and they explain what they are trying to focus on in each lesson. We did not do all of the lessons included in the pack (we probably did 80%) but I did stick to the way they broke the book down in terms of which chapters we read in each session. I found this breakdown manageable and just logical in terms of highlighting things like tension, writing style etc. Then there is a Chapter breakdown which summaries the events of each chapter. I found it useful to read this before hand just so that I have an idea of where the story was going and if there were possible tangents I might want to go on (we are big on tangents).
For each lesson they have included a lesson plan – think of this as suggestions, I take the bits that I want out of this and leave the bits that I don’t want. But it is really nice to have these suggestions to point you in some sort of direction. And for each lesson there are one or two worksheets. The worksheets / activities really do vary from things like writing dairy entries, writing newspaper articles, playing word games, thinking of character development, word meanings, really quite a bit.
Working through White Dolphin was not part of our planned work for this year, it really was a spur of the moment decision but it has been a very enjoyable piece of work. And I really appreciate that the FREE to download teacher pack meant I could just follow the kids suggestion and dive into a book that they wanted to read together.
The teachers pack is downloaded here – Rollercoaster Teacher’s Packs.
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