Stranded On A Desert Island

In the Stranded On A Desert Island ESL activity, students decide what they would like to have with them in a castaway situation and justify their choices.

Students for Stranded On A Desert Island ESL Activity:1+Time for Stranded On A Desert Island ESL Activity:10-20 mins
Resources for Stranded On A Desert Island ESL Activity:

Divide the class into pairs.

Set the scene by describing a desert island to the class. Include a few details such as climate, geographical features, flora and fauna. If you have a projector, you could illustrate your description with pictures.

  1. Each pair has to write down three or five (specify beforehand) everyday objects that they would want with them on that desert island to help them survive. These must be objects that can be found in an average house, not specialised survival equipment! Students should discuss why they choose each object and be ready to explain their reasoning.
  2. If you are using this activity to practise the second conditional, students write at least three sentences about situations in which they would use each object, using this grammar (see Target Language section below).
  3. Each pair then shares their objects and reasoning with the class, using the target language if appropriate. Other students can challenge their choices/reasoning if they want.
  4. If you have a larger class, keep a tally of the objects chosen and see which are the most popular at the end.
Target Language

The Stranded On A Desert Island ESL activity can be used as a warmer with beginner, intermediate, or advanced students. The amount and quality of the discussion will clearly vary depending on the level. It could form a good introduction to a class on disasters/survival.

You can also use it as an activity to practise the second conditional with intermediate students. Students write sentences and share their reasoning using this structure. For example; If it rained we would catch water in the bucket to drink; If we saw an animal we would hit the bucket to make a noise etc.

For a similar activity in which students consider luxury items instead, see Desert Island Discs.

Got a picture or video of this activity in action? How about snapping one next time you use it? We'd love to showcase your submissions- find out more here.