Activity 1:
Island Exploration

When Karana lived on San Nicolas Island, very few people knew about the islands. Pretend that you're an early explorer who has just discovered the islands along the California coast.


Create a map of the southern California coastline. Create your own adventure for Karana set on another nearby island.

Process and Resources

  1. Locate San Nicolas Island, the Channel Islands, and the Mission Santa Barbara on a map. Use the websites below for ideas:
  2. Create your own map of the coast of California.
  3. San Nicolas Island had a different name in the book based on the shape of the island. What shape? Draw a picture of the island. Invent your own island in the shape of a sea creature. Where is your island located? Add your "newly discovered" island to the map.
  4. Write a short story about Karana's adventure on this island. Include facts and information from the original book.

Project Guidelines

Use the following guidelines for completing your project:

  • Your southern California map should include a scale, key, and basic features of the land and sea.
  • Your island map should be the shape of a sea creature and include a scale, key, and basic features. You might also include events and names related to the short story you write.
  • Your short story should include real characters from the book. It should also include some descriptions from the book such as clothing, village information, animal information, and other details. What clues about the characters and setting might be helpful for your story?


Find another class that is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins and share your maps and stories.

Teacher Resources
Student Resources