Message in a Bottle

message in a bottle

Does anyone else buy things because they want to use the packaging it comes in for a lesson? I bought this bottle of cordial (our family doesn’t even drink cordial!) because I wanted to use it for a writing prompt. You can also buy similar bottles in discount stores. I just like the idea of reusing items.

message in a bottle

I usually start the lesson off by telling a story of how I was walking along the beach after a big storm. I describe how there was lots of debris and seaweed washed up on shore. Something caught my eye in one particular pile of seaweed. When I went over to investigate I was surprised to reveal this bottle. I was even more surprised to see that there was a note inside!

You can also make the note inside look older by staining it with tea & crumpling it up.

After telling my story and showing the class the bottle, I ask them what they think it is. Students love to imagine what the note in the bottle could say.

Some questions you can pose to the class:

Where was this bottle found?

How old is it?

Who wrote the note?

Why did they write it?

What does the note say?

How would you respond to the note? 

After discussing and brainstorming scenarios, students could then write what they think the note says. Early finishers could also write a response to the note. Give them time at the end of the lesson to share their notes. You can then open the bottle and reveal what the note actually says or….you could leave it sealed and keep them guessing!

Some ideas for the note:

  • A convict, on a ship heading to Australia, complaining about the ship’s conditions and worried about the strange new land they were going to.
  • A survivor of a shipwreck, asking for help.
  • A deckhand on an early explorer’s ship, who was worried that they were going to sail off the edge of the world.
  • Someone taken captive by pirates, telling you where the pirates have buried their treasure.

Do you have any other ideas of how you could use this as a writing prompt? What would your note say?



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