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See, my brothers, that bright star up there. There’s an island below it. Let us sail to it.” Little Manu was the first to speak. “I’ll go with you,” he said. And so begins the story of how the first people sailed to Hawai‘i, crossing vast stretches of ocean without compass or map to discover new lands. 

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Learn all about the brothers who discovered Hawaii with our free Island Below the Star unit study.

Thanks to Celia Hartmann for preparing this Island Below the Star Unit Study.

Island Below the Sta Unit Study Lessons

This unit study includes lessons and activities based on the book, Island Below the Star by James Rumford.

Here is a sample of the lessons found in this Island Below the Star unit study:

Geography: Marquesas Islands, Pacific Ocean, Hawaiian Islands Marquesas Islands: The Marquesas Islands are located in the South Pacific, about 1,000 miles northeast of Tahiti. They are made up of 12 islands, of which 6 are inhabited and are part of French Polynesia. This island group is farther away from a continent than any other island group in the world.

The islands are wild, rugged and lush and almost constantly covered in clouds. (If you’ve studied the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, you may wish to point out that the islands are located between these two imaginary lines.) The islands are very beautiful (Mom trivia: Survivor was shot here.)

Once almost 80,000 people lived on these island, today only about 7,000. (If appropriate, you may wish to discuss how explorers brought diseases to which the natives had no immunity. Between 1600 and 1900, most of the population was wiped out by smallpox. The population was just under 2,000 around 1900.).

Pacific Ocean: The Pacific Ocean is the earth’s largest ocean. It is about 1/3 the size of the whole earth. There are about 25,000 islands in the Pacific.

Hawaii: Hawaii is made up of 120 islands, but most are uninhabited. There are 8 main ones. Hawaii was the 50th and final state admitted to the USA. These lush islands are the tops of a chain of submerged volcanoes. They are located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They were once known as the Sandwich Islands.

History–Explorers of the Pacific Ocean: Read the author’s note at the end of the story. Discuss with your student any or all of these explorers of the Pacific Ocean.

Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1475 – 1519) — Spanish explorer. Was the first European explorer to see the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) — Portuguese explorer. Credited for being the first to completely sail around the world. Actually, he was killed in the Philippines prior to end of the journey, but his remaining crew finished the voyage.

Sir Francis Drake (1545-1596) — British explorer. Second to circumnavigate the earth.

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) — English explorer. Made three voyages to explore the Pacific Ocean. He charted many areas and recorded several islands and coastlines. He claimed the eastern coast of Australia for Britain and discovered the Hawaiian Islands. He was the first to prevent scurvy by providing his crew with fresh fruits.

You can grab a copy of the entire Island Below the Star unit study in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.

How to Get Started with the Island Below the Star Unit Study

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the Island Below the Star unit study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, Island Below the Star, or grab one from your local library.
  2. Print the Island Below the Star unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Enjoy a week of literature-based learning with your student.

Download Your Free Island Below the Star Unit Study

Simply click on the image below to grab the free Island Below the Star unit study.

Island Below the Stars Unit Study