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Survivor in the Classroom

Teacher Lesson


  • Language Arts, Family Life


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Survivor is a popular reality TV show. This lesson adapts the idea behind Survivor to an outside-of-class project. How many students would survive?



  • follow directions.
  • take responsibility for meeting deadlines.
  • strengthen writing and communication skills.


Following directions, responsibility, survivor, study skills

Materials Needed

  • paper
  • markers
  • common foods
  • a contact at a local newspaper to publicize students who "survive" the competition (optional)

Lesson Plan

This project is conducted for 10 consecutive school days. All the project tasks must be completed outside of class time. The project is not required. How many of your students would take the challenge? (Most of mine did!)

In this project, the teacher assigns 10 projects (see below for some ideas). Each project comes due on consecutive days, Day One through Day Ten. Students do not "survive" if their assignments are turned in with incorrect headings, incomplete information, or spelling errors; or (especially) if they miss a day.

This would be an excellent beginning-of-the-year project to reinforce the need for proper headings and spelling but it could involve much more detailed and fun assignments such as the ones below.

Survivor tasks should be appropriate to the age and skills of your students and connect to your curriculum. Tasks could involve students with their families, or the activities could be solo endeavors. Following are some of the tasks I created:

  • Find a war veteran and discuss his or her experiences; write a paragraph or short essay to tell what you learned.
  • Find a cereal box and write down the nutritional facts. Tell what you learned about the nutritional value of the cereal from the Nutrition Facts panel on the box. Write a paragraph assessing its general value.
  • Make a card for someone who has helped you recently. Show the card to the teacher to earn your Survivor point for the day, then deliver the card.
  • Create a meal plan for your family that includes at least five items. Prepare the meal for your family. Have family members write down their reactions.

The real test comes on Day Ten. Assign students to create their own task, explain it, and carry it out. Then the other "survivors" can vote on the most creative final task and determine the winner!

All students who survive to Day Ten of the competition should earn some kind of reward. I started with 30 students and ended up with 7 survivors. Each survivor received free homework passes and a certificate of achievement.

Another great carrot to is to make a contact at your local newspaper, describe the program, and get assurance that the paper will cover the story of the students who survive the competition. A picture and an article in the local newspaper could be a great motivator! If you cannot get such a guarantee in advance, then a newspaper article is an extra bonus if it does happen.

More thoughts:

  • Keep a classroom chart. Check off each task as it is completed, or cross off names as students drop out of the competition.
  • Place a banner outside the classroom to let other students in the school know what is going on and promote enthusiasm among students. Many students from outside your classroom will beg to be part of the fun.


The daily survivor criteria might include the following:

  • Following all instructions
  • Handing in error-free assignments
  • Presenting assignments that are neatly done

Submitted By

Mary E. Noyes, Minneota (Minnesota) Public School


Originally published 04/03/2003
Last updated 10/15/2007

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