By Susan Beth Pfeffer

Copyright Date: 2006

Published by: Harcourt Children’s Books

Lexile Reading Level: 770

Grade Level Recommendation: 5th Grade

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

Suggested Delivery: Independent read, small groups

Key Vocabulary:

  • evacuation: the removal of persons or things from an endangered area.
  • catastrophic: disastrous or dangerous event.
  • casualties: one who is injured or killed in an accident.
  • astronomer: an expert or someone who studies the universe beyond the planet earth.
  • telescope: an instrument used to make things far away seem larger.
  • famine: extreme and general scarcity of food, as a country or a large geographical area.

Reading Strategies:

  • Before: Introduce students to the book by discussing the moon and its effects on our planet.
  • During: Students can take notes on Miranda’s personality and mood at the beginning of the book and how it changes throughout the story.  Students can also reflect on how a situation in their own life may have shaped who they are today.
  • After: Give students the opportunity to make a survival bag.  This can be done physically or as a written assignment.  Students can make a list of items that they would need to help them get through a year only a limited amount of supplies.

Writing Activity Suggestion:  Have students imagine that they are in Miranda’s shoes and instruct them to write a few diary entries.  Some prompt questions may be:

  • What food would you stock up on if you could only eat one thing for a year?
  • What sacrifices would you make for your family if you were in Miranda’s shoes?
  • Write a few journal entries in another characters’ perspective. How would this story be different if the whole book was written from someone else’s point of view? Why?
  • Would you be sacred if this happened to you? Write a few diary entries about what your initial reactions would be and how you would handle adapting to your new life.
  • Would you start to lose hope after a while? What would make you want to keep living?

Electronic Resources:

  • Susuan Beth Pfeffer’s Blog– This link will bring you right to the author’s blog.  She provided links helpful and useful websites.  She has also written posts talking about the behind-the-scenes in creating this popular series. The link I found most helpful was here. I found some great lesson plans and ideas on how to make this story come to life for students.
  • Does the Moon Really Control the Tides?– This is a brief YouTube video, which talks about how the moon and tides are related.
  • PBS Space Time– I really like this video.  It talks about how the moon and the tides in more detail than the video link about this.

Last Survivors Series:

  1. Life as We Knew It
  2. The Dead and the Gone
  3. This World We Live In
  4. The Shade of the Moon





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