The Cay Lesson Plans: Have Students Do an Author Study on Theodore Taylor

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A Great Book for an Author Study

I have to confess my excitement when I was presented to opportunity to write over Theodore Taylor’s beloved book The Cay, which is set in World War II times on a small unknown cay. As a middle school teacher, I have had the pleasure of sharing my love for this novel with my sixth grade students for the past four years. I have since comprised several lessons over the novel, the first of which is an author research activity designed to be a precursor to the novel unit. When conducting this activity, you will need access to computers and the activity page. It should take approximately one or two class periods.

Rationale for the Lesson

This activity is designed to teach valuable research skills to students, while providing the opportunity to find out more information about the author of The Cay, Theodore Taylor, and information about his books. By completing this activity, students will also improve their basic reading skills, as they search for answers to the questions.

Getting Started

Follow the directions on the activity page in the following section. It is designed to allow for minimal questions from the students, as the directions are lined out step-by-step and the answers are clearly stated on the web page.

Theodore Taylor Author Research Activity Page

Directions for Students:

Double click Internet Explorer. Type in the address bar at the top of the screen. Click on Children’s Literature at the top. Scroll across the top to Authors/Illustrators. Scroll down to Meet Authors/Illustrators and click once. Click on the letter T. Find Theodore Taylor and click once.

Read the excerpt on Theodore Taylor and answer the following questions:

1. What did the people writing Theodore Taylor letters request him to write? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. How old is Theodore Taylor, and what is he currently doing? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. How did Theodore Taylor begin his career? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. In what branch of military did he serve? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. What did Theodore Taylor do in Hollywood? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. What award did The Weirdo win? What year was it published? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7. What award(s) did Sniper win? What year was it published? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8. How many awards did The Cay win? How many copies did it sell? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

9. What are the three Cs of storytelling, according to Theodore Taylor? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. What is Theodore Taylor currently working on? Which C is he struggling with? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

11. What two things must the main character of The Cay overcome?_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

12. Which book is a collection of short stories about the sea? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

13. What other book is about the cay? How are they related? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Research Ideas on Theodore Taylor Continued

Directions for Students:

Type Theodore Taylor in the search box and click Google Search. Take this opportunity to find additional facts about Theodore Taylor by exploring some of the sites that come up.

Answer These Questions:

  • Where Theodore Taylor gets the ideas for his novels?
  • Where did Taylor spend most of his childhood?
  • How many awards his book have received?
  • How many book has Taylor written?

Find out the answers to these questions and more by reading up on Theodore Taylor and his novels. Write your answers in the space below or on the back.

Extension Ideas

Possible extension activities are in the form of additional reading from this well renouned author.

Concluding Thoughts

I truly believe that it is of high importance to research the author prior to starting new novel units. By completing this activity, students will go into the reading knowing a little something about the author’s real life, parts of which make an appearance in his novel. Since it is also becoming more and more evident that kids learn through technology, this project is sure to enhance the learning experience. It will also add clarity to the novel.


This post is part of the series: Research and Technology Applications Using The Cay by Theodore Taylor

Implementing technology into curriculum has become an essential part of education. The beloved book, The Cay by Theodore Taylor, deals with World War 2, blindness, deserted island survival, and acceptance. Using these concepts, I have comprised several research activities that use technology.

  1. An Author Study Lesson on Theodore Taylor of The Cay
  2. World War 2 Mini-Research Project for The Cay by Theodore Taylor
  3. Research Poster Project for The Cay by Theodore Taylor, Part One
  4. Evaluating the Research Poster Project for The Cay (Part Two)