Scar Island Teaching Ideas

Activities to do with the Novel Scar Island

Are you looking for a great novel for students? Check out Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart. It is the perfect book for reluctant middle school readers. This gripping adventure story is an easy read (Lexile rating of 610).

Twelve-year-old Jonathan has been sent to the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys. Jonathan thinks he deserves to go to this remote island just large enough to house the crumbling stone school that was once an asylum for the terrible thing he did. Just a few chapters into the book, a lightning strike kills all the adults. The boys struggle for leadership roles as a hurricane hits the island.

This page-turner contains chapter after chapter ending in cliffhangers. I found myself not being able to put the book down.

Scar Island Activities

Book Unit Samples

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart Novel Study

You will find the following in this novel study sample:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Constructed Response Question – Setting

Teaching Idea #1  – Anti-Bullying Campaign

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart Novel Study

Sebastian and Benny become extremely abusive when they decide to become leaders. Have students make a list of how they abuse power.

Have students create a poster, skit, video, and so on that shows the effects of bullying. Students can research statistical information to add to their campaigns.

Teaching Idea #2 – Reader’s Theater

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart Novel Study

Divide the class into groups and have them perform scenes from the book as a reader’s theater. This could be a fun way to engage students in the text and practice their public speaking skills.

You will find three different scripts on the editable Google Slides.

Teaching Idea #3 – Symbolism

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart Novel Study

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart is a novel rich in symbolism. Here are some of the symbols in the book:

  • the scar on Jonathan’s face 
  • lighthouse
  • storm
  •  key 
  • fire

You will find the meanings behind these symbols on this editable Google Slide.

Teaching Idea #4  – Book Trailer

This professionally created book trailer from Scholastic is a great hook for your novel study. Scholastic creates trailers to build interest in novels during their book fairs. It is sure to make your students excited to read the book.

Teaching Idea #5  – Parallel Classics 

Jonathan goes to the library four times during the novel. Each time the librarian gives Jonathan a book to read that in some way parallels the events that are taking place on the island. Have students watch summaries of these classics and compare them to the events that are taking place in Jonathan’s life.

Robinson Crusoe

Treasure Island

Lord of the Flies


Teaching Idea #6  – Letter Writing 

Each day the boys at Slabhenge write letters home. Have students write letters to friends or family. These letters could include book summaries.

Teaching Idea #7 – On the Web

Check out Dan Gemeinhart’s website.

Book Illustrations – This site has 5 illustrations. Have students view the illustrations and identify the scenes from the story. Have students explain if they are or aren’t good representations of the story.


Teaching Idea #8 – The Audiobook

See the product that inspired this post.

Scar Island Novel Study

Scar Island Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice. 

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: