Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Lord of the Flies Unit, Lesson 1

I'm a Survivor

Margaret Salesky, Brandy Hackett, Lindsey Link | Published: May 26th, 2022 by K20 Center


In this introductory lesson to the "Lord of the Flies" unit of study, students learn what a microcosm is, what its significance to this story is, and how to build a microcosm of their own. The author's use of the microcosm to symbolize human nature sets the stage for the unit and focuses on author William Golding's use of symbolism to develop characterization and theme throughout the novel.

Essential Question(s)

How does the author use symbolism to develop characterization and theme?



Students complete a digital survey about emergency items and analyze responses.


Students read and highlight a related passage.


Students revisit emergency items and make connections with symbolism.


Students build a microcosm.


Students participate in a Gallery Walk and complete a Muddiest Point as a reflection.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Lord of the Flies as Microcosm handout (attached; one per student)

  • Microcosm Checklist (attached; one per student)

  • Materials for building a microcosm

  • Pens/pencils

  • Highlighters

  • Sticky notes

  • Emergency Items Jamboard (force copy link)


Begin by displaying from the attached Lesson Slides the title slide on slide 2 and explain to students that this lesson is the start of a new novel unit. Share the guiding question and objectives for this lesson on slides 3-4.

Display slide 5 and pose the question to the students: "What three things (nearby, that you can grab easily) would you bring with you in an emergency situation?" Ask students to share their thoughts using a Jamboard. Advise them that their responses will be posted publicly with the class.

Share with students access to a Jamboard. Give the students time to reflect and enter their answers to the Jamboard.

After all the responses are captured, display the results. Give students time to read over and reflect on the responses they see. After students have reviewed classmate’s responses, show slide 6. Ask the students analyze the results using the strategy I Notice, I Wonder.

Some questions to guide the discussion are as follows:

  • Are there any patterns that you can see?

  • Are there any items that you notice only boys/girls/other want to bring with them?

  • Are there any items that you see that make you wonder if it's really something someone should be bringing with them?

  • What are some questions you have about items some of your classmates listed?

Use these guiding questions, as well as some that you come up with organically as the lesson plays out, to discuss what students would bring with them in an emergency.


Distribute the attached Lord of the Flies as Microcosm handout and highlighters. Display slide 7 and describe annotating strategy Categorical Highlighting. Instruct students to highlight the following as they read the passage:

  • Pink—Their understanding of a microcosm;

  • Blue—Their understanding of symbolism;

  • Yellow—Any connections they find between microcosms and symbolism.

Give students ample time to read, highlight and reflect.

After students are done reading and highlighting, display slide 8 and have them work with a partner nearby to discuss the following questions:

  • What is a microcosm?

  • How does it relate to symbolism?

  • What do you think Lord of the Flies is a microcosm of?

  • Make a prediction: what might this story be about/include?


Revisit the Jamboard created in the Engage with the three objects students would take with them in an emergency situation. Display slide 9 and instruct students to reflect on their objects and how they might represent them.

Slide 9 shows three examples of items that students might bring. Instruct students to complete a modified One-Pager to explain why they chose the objects they did and how they represent them in writing.

Have them find and reproduce images of the items on the front side of the page. Have them explain how the items relate and represent them on the back of the page.

Once students have completed their One-Pager, move to slides 10-11 or slides 12-17 to provide a concrete explanation of the concepts of microcosm and symbolism.


Move to slide 18. Have students plan and build their own microcosm that reflects the world as they see it. Print out copies of the attached Microcosm Checklist handout and distribute to each student. Ask them to check off the required elements as they add them to their projects.

This activity has two (2) different options to choose from.

Once the students have completed the microcosm, instruct them to write a paragraph description that explains the reasoning for each item chosen.


Move to slide 19 and instruct students to take some time to view their classmates’ microcosm creations. Consider setting a timer for a specific amount of time for viewing. You can find a variety of visual timers on the K20 Center YouTube page. Let students know that after viewing the microcosms, they will be asked to reflect on what they have learned.

After the Gallery Walk/Carousel, display slide 20. Ask students to write out what they saw as the Muddiest Point on a sticky note, a blank piece of paper, or digital submission. Ask them, "What about microcosm and symbolism is still a little muddy, or confusing, for you? Write that on your sheet and turn it in." This will serve as an Exit Ticket for the lesson.