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How to Teach Lord of the Flies

Over sixty years after its publication, William Golding's Lord of the Flies remains popular in high school and college English classrooms. Reading the novel introduces students to rhetorical devices and literary techniques, and helps them explore complex questions about human nature and behavior. This guide contains activities, quizzes, videos, and other material you'll find useful in planning lessons around the text. Some of these resources include detailed tips and instructions that those who are new to teaching Lord of the Flies will find particularly helpful. These resources are marked NEW. A handful of resources are more appropriate for middle school readers, and are marked MS. Resources best used for advanced high school students or college students are marked ADV. The most comprehensive or otherwise outstanding resources are marked **.

Lesson Plans

Teachers who are new to Lord of the Flies will appreciate the detail in these lesson plan sets. More experienced teachers will find helpful new perspectives in the resources found here, which include comprehensive guides to the text, articles from The New York Times, essays,  Prezis, and images.

"Getting to the Core: Lord of the Flies Unit" (Santa Ana USD)

(**, NEW) This 151-page guide provides a comprehensive framework for teaching Lord of the Flies to high school learners, making it an excellent resource for teachers who are covering the text for the first time. The guide uses Common Core standards.

"Lord of the Flies Unit Plan" (Prezi)

(NEW) This Prezi offers a comprehensive set of assignments, activities, and quizzes for the novel. It offers "enduring understandings" and "essential questions."

"A Teacher's Guide to Lord of the Flies" (Penguin)

This relatively basic 24-page PDF provides essay questions, group discussion questions, activities, ideas for student projects, and a bibliography. 

"William Golding's Lord of the Flies" (NEH)

(MS) This webpage, part of the National Endowment for the Humanities' EDSITEment initiative, provides three lesson plans on characterization, symbolism, and themes. 

"Teaching 'Lord of the Flies' With The New York Times" (New York Times)

(ADV) This resource will allow you to emphasize the book's historical context. Note that its "Lesson plans" are not designed to teach the book itself. Instead, they connect with the main themes of the text. There are also links to "Times Topics" pages on Great Britain, WWII, and more. 

Background and Historical Context

One of the great virtues of Lord of the Flies is its accessibility to students who don't have a strong grasp of the historical context. Knowledge of a novel's historical context and its author's background, however, always improves understanding of the text. The resources below offer introductions to William Golding's biography and the world figured by novel.

"William Golding" (Biography.com)

(MS) This webpage provides a basic introduction to Golding's life, from his early memories of life as "frustrated child," to his time in the Royal Navy and his final years in Cornwall. 

Review of John Carey's biography of Golding (The Guardian)

Teachers who wish to learn more about Golding can begin with this review of John Carey's 2009 biography. Please note: the article (and the book) contains some adult content. 

William Golding Interview (ca. 1950s) (YouTube)

This 10-minute clip offers teachers and students the opportunity to hear Golding talk about his work. Please note: there are gaps in the audio toward the end, and some students may find the British accents (especially the interviewer) difficult to understand. 

BBC Two "Historical Context: 'Lord of the Flies'" (YouTube)

(**) This 10 minute video from BBC Two is an effective resource for introducing students to the novel's historical context. It includes primary footage as well as textual analysis.

Lord of the Flies Context (Mrs. Elbakry's English Class)

Teachers can link to this student-friendly summary on their own class websites. The "Lord of the Flies Resource Page" listed under "Worksheets and Printables" has information on the historical context of the novel. It also includes an "Intertextuality" section that provides an analysis of some important allusions.

Presentations (Including Prezis)

All these presentations were prepared by teachers or other education professionals. Teachers can either use them in class (with attribution) or as aids for their own lectures and presentations. You'll find PowerPoints and Prezis on the novel's themes, characters, and symbolism.

"Lord of the Flies Introduction" (Prezi)

This Prezi provides an effective historical and thematic introduction to the novel. You may want to present this material to your students before they read the novel.

"Lord of the Flies Overview" (Brooks College Prep)

This basic PowerPoint offers a sweeping overview of characterization and themes throughout the entire novel. It could be used to structure a review session after students have finished reading the novel.

"Symbolism in Lord of the Flies" (Prezi)

This presentation helps teachers introduce the major symbols in the novel. It begins with a brief answer to the question "what is symbolism?"

"Symbolism in Lord of the Flies" (Garces Memorial High School)

(ADV) This PowerPoint by a high school teacher focuses on characterization and symbolism in the novel using a generally Freudian lens. 

Worksheets and Printables

Below, you'll find exercises that guide students through each chapter of the novel. Worksheets, printables, and classroom activities help check for reading comprehension, and study guides will prepare students for the exam questions provided in the "Test and Quizzes" section.

"Lord of the Flies Resource Page" (Duke of Definition)

(**, NEW, ADV) This excellent collection of resources features study guide worksheets for every chapter. This website also has quizzes, paper prompts, and historical information. 

"Lord of the Flies Unit Packet" (Edlio)

(**, NEW) This 58-page PDF contains many pages of worksheets and exercises. It was written for 10th grade students. This resource could also serve as a lesson plan guide.

Lord of the Flies Resources and Worksheets (Burklund.weebly.com)

(**) This webpage from a high school English teacher contains 12 worksheets, a study guide, and an introduction to Freudian psychology.

"Lord of the Flies Worksheets" (Houston Community College)

(ADV) This page from a community college contains links to two worksheets that are appropriate for advanced high school students or college freshmen. 

"Activity Pack: Lord of the Flies" (Prestwick House)

This seven-page PDF from the publisher Prestwick House contains open-ended worksheets that encourage students to free-write about the novel.

"Lord of the Flies Survival Activity" (Parkway Schools)

(MS) This group activity asks students to place themselves in the characters' shoes. What would they do if stranded on a deserted tropical island with a group of kids?

Graphic Organizers

Many students enjoy sorting information into graphic organizers, which cater to visual learners. These tools are especially useful for students who are struggling to keep the characters or plot developments straight. In this section, you'll find characterization, theme, and symbolism organizers.

Comprehensive Lord of the Flies Graphic Organizer (Jericho Schools)

(**, NEW) This resource from a high school English teacher contains characterization and symbolism graphic organizers, as well as chapter-by-chapter worksheets and exercises.

"Lord of the Flies Character Graphic Organizers" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

These detailed graphic organizers, geared toward high schoolers, will help your students focus on the subtleties of Golding's characters.

Lord of the Flies Character Development Graphic Organizer (Teachers Pay Teachers)

(MS) This graphic organizer, geared toward middle school and high school students, is designed to help students track how the characters change during the novel.

"Lord of the Flies—Symbolism Chart" (Grafton Public Schools)

By having students fill out this clean and simple table, teachers can ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of the wide variety of symbols used in the novel.

Lord of the Flies Theme Graphic Organizer (Teachers Pay Teachers) 

(MS) These worksheets, which are designed for middle school and high school students, can help students better understand and trace the underlying themes of the novel.

Discussion Guides

The discussion guides in this section contain questions that encourage students to consider the larger themes and contemporary relevance of Lord of the Flies. You'll find open-ended questions that follow the Socratic seminar model, along with questions for each chapter of the book.

"Lord of the Flies—Study Guide and Discussion Questions" (NWSA English II)

This guide from a high school English teacher's website contains three to eight discussion questions for each chapter of Lord of the Flies.

"Lord of the Flies: Socratic Seminar" (Chino Valley USD)

(ADV) This resource contains a number of very open-ended Socratic-style questions. There are also brief instructions for students, and a description of the Socratic seminar model.

"Lord of the Flies Socratic Seminar" (Spring Valley ISD)

(**, ADV, NEW) This resource is another sample Socratic seminar. It contains a suggested grading rubric that may be helpful for teachers who have not graded a Socratic-style discussion before. The questions focus on synthesis and contemporary relevance.

Lesson Plans with Discussion Questions (North Bend School District)

(**, NEW) This website features a suggested calendar for teaching Lord of the Flies. There are a wide variety of resources on this site. Most of the discussion questions and activities are found in the chapter packets. 

"What If" Group Discussion Activity (Prezi)

(NEW) This group activity asks students to consider how they would react if they found themselves in a situation like the characters in the novel. This resource is a good example of how to structure an activity carefully while still keeping it interesting for more advanced students.

Tests and Quizzes

Below, you'll find a number of different options for testing students' knowledge of the book's major plot points and rhetorical devices. Please note that there are many other comprehensive resources (marked **) in different sections of this guide that also contain tests and quizzes. 

Basic Reading Quizzes (Weber School District)

(MS) These reading quizzes from a high school English teacher are ideal for checking basic student comprehension. There are 10 questions for each of the book's 12 chapters.

Lord of the Flies Pop Quizzes (Midland Independent School)

(MS) These short pop quizzes, presented in PowerPoint form, test basic comprehension. There are five questions for each of the book's 12 chapters.

"Lord of the Flies Final Test" (Aveson Charter Schools)

This sample final test was created by a high school teacher. There are matching section on literary terms and character details, and short answer section.

Lord of the Flies Final Exam (Houston Community College)

(ADV) This is a copy of the Integrated Reading and Writing final on Lord of the Flies. This same instructor also developed quizzes for the first four chapters.

News Articles and Essays

Teachers can use these short articles and critical essays  to demonstrate the enduring relevance of Lord of the Flies. Teachers can also use the essays to encourage class discussion. You'll find articles from The New York Times and the New Yorker, The Independent, and more.

"Their Inner Beasts: 'Lord of the Flies' Six Decades Later" (The New York Times)

Acclaimed author Lois Lowry examines how her response to Lord of the Flies has changed since she first read it at 17. In addition to using this essay to talk about characters like Jack and Simon, teachers could use it to spur a discussion about the purpose and value of reading in general.

"Politically Correct 'Lord of the Flies'" (The New Yorker)

(ADV) In this 2015 piece, Joe Keohane humorously attempts to update the plot of Lord of the Flies for the modern, "woke" world. While teachers may have varying opinions about the humor, this can spark good discussion about everything from the relevance of "the canon" to the role of literature in social justice.

"'Lord of the Flies' is Still a Blueprint for Savagery" (The Independent)

(**) In this article, authors Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff draw on their research into isolated groups. They praise the book for its accurate depiction of survivor dynamics. Students might research the real-life cases in this article, or find other examples of the behavior Golding describes.

"The Most Relevant Dystopian Novel For Our Time is Not '1984'—It's 'Lord of the Flies'" (Los Angeles Times)

In this editorial, author and literary critic Liesl Schillinger makes the case for the enduring relevance of Golding's work. Teachers can use this essay to spur a general class discussion, or they could ask students to evaluate Schillinger's rhetoric and persuasive techniques.

"Why 'Lord of the Flies' Speaks Volumes about Boys" (The Telegraph)

Teachers can use this article from The Telegraph to generate a discussion about the broad and complex topic of gender in Lord of the Flies. 

Video Resources

Below, you'll find a number of videos and clips relevant to Lord of the Flies. Teachers looking for a feature-length film based on the book should consider the 1963 film, as the 1990 film deviates from the plot. Advanced students, however, might discuss why the 1990 film changed the plot in the way it did. Please see the "Background and Historical Context" section for additional video resources.

"Great Books: Lord of the Flies" (YouTube)

(**) This 52-minute documentary, which was made for cable television in the 1990s, marshals a number of experts to help explain why Lord of the Flies is such an important book.

"Lord of the Flies Video Game" (Scratch.mit.edu)

This game, which is probably most appropriate for middle school readers, introduces students to the important characters and symbolic objects (the conch, Piggy's glasses) from the novel.

"Lord of the Flies Video Game" (NobelPrize.org)

This is similar to the above resource, but is more appropriate for younger high school readers. Teachers may also want to provide this resource to students who are struggling with visualizing the geography of the island.

Video clip from The Simpsons: Das Bus (YouTube)

This episode (season 9) gently parodies Lord of the Flies. Teachers may also want to check out the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Club SpongeBob," which contains references to Lord of the Flies. 

Mr. Salles Teaches English Lord of the Flies Playlist (YouTube)

(**, ADV) These 13 videos were created by a British literature teacher to help students prepare for exams. Many of them offer detailed analysis of characterization and theme. The videos demonstrate close reading and highlight numerous literary techniques.

Mrs. Sperry's Basic Chapter Summaries Playlist (YouTube)

(MS) The videos in this playlist are very basic—they focus on major plot points, not sophisticated questions of theme. Teachers may find them useful if they have students who are struggling to keep the characters and plot straight.

Other Supplementary Resources

If you're looking for even more ideas for teaching Lord of the Flies, consult the resources in this section. You'll find a survival simulation game, a collection of critical essays on the novel for advanced students, an article with surprising facts about the book and its author, and a critique of a recent film remake announcement.

Lord of the Flies Simulation (LordAlford.com)

This webpage from a high school English teacher contains a map, instructions, and other resources for setting up a survival game for students.

Understanding "Lord of the Flies": A Student Casebook (Amazon)

(ADV) This book, from the "Literature in Context" series, compiles a number of critical essays and can be useful for teachers who are working with advanced high school or college students.

"11 Things You Might Not Know About 'Lord of the Flies'" (Mental Floss)

Even those who have taught students about Lord of the Flies for years might learn something new about the text, its author, and its publication history from this Mental Floss article.

"In 'Lord of the Flies' Remake, Girls Survive Instead" (New York Times)

Is a Lord of the Flies remake with an all-female cast an intriguing idea, or a misguided one? Use the backlash against a Hollywood film to start a conversation with your students about gender in the novel.