Kensuke's Kingdom - Properties of Materials

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo is full of opportunities to explore properties of materials, you can even use the context of survival scenarios linked to the book. In the story 12 year old Michael and his family set off on an adventure of a life time, but a storm causes him to be washed off his boat . He finds himself on an island in the Pacific, struggling to survive on his own. With no food and no water, he curls up to die, but on waking  there is a plate beside him of fish, of fruit, and a bowl of fresh water. He is not alone, Kensuke, a Japanese war veteran, lives on the island with the orang utans. Threatened by Michael’s arrival, Kensuke keeps himself to himself until one fateful day when Michael is paralysed by jelly fish stings.  ​Everything that Kensuke and Michael need must be found on the island or made from the resources they have before them. Their survival depends on it. This book is the perfect setting for  exploring survival scenarios and is full of opportunities for :

  • exploring solids, liquids and gases 
  • investigating how mixtures might be separated, including through filtering, sieving and evaporating
  • the particular uses of everyday materials, including metals, wood and plastic 
  • investigating dissolving, mixing and changes of state   

Key scientific vocab: solubility, dissolve, solution​, soluble, insoluble​, solute, solvent, particle, mix/mixture, filtering, sieving, reversible changes, new material,  burning

Other fiction books with  similar themes include:

The Tale of the Two Bad Mice – Beatrix Potter

Angela Sprocket’s Pockets – Quentin Blake

Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz

Young Bond - Steve Cole

Links and Resources

Mission: Starlight

In chapter five Michael is badly burned by the sun. Sunburn is skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. In this set of investigations by the Royal Society of Chemistry the children use UV loom band beads to explore which materials can block UV. The children select the best materials to create an astronaut suit for astronauts such as Tim Peake who did a space walk outside the International Space Station, exposed to UV.

Their resources can also be used in the context Kensuke's Kingdom to create shelters to protect Michael from the midday sun. Or to create sunglasses or clothes that stop UV light. The possibilities are endless.

publication year
2010 to 2019

2 files

0

0

Pinch of Salt

This resource from CIEC challenges children to purify rocksalt by making a solution, filtering and evaporating. Full of practical advice on how to run the session supported by notes for teachers on the science behind the practicals this is a really useful resource.

The children could investigate how Kensuke and Michael could have made salt from Sea water which they could have used to preserve food for the winter on their island.

publication year
1990 - 1999

9 files

0

0

Beat the Flood STEM challenge

Beat the Flood is a  problem solving scenario where students use their STEM skills to help them design and build a model of a flood- proof house. Activities to help them with their design include testing materials (for strength and absorbency) and  investigations to find the strongest structures, this links very well to work on 3d shapes and nets.

Kensuke's kingdom is set on a deserted fictitious island. In this scenario the island  is inhabited with people trying to cope with the devastating effects of flooding caused by climate change. Beat the Flood is perfect for STEM and science clubs, curriculum enrichment days, and providing a great context for science and Design and Technology lessons.

publication year
2010 to 2019

6 files

0

5

The water cycle

This resource explores the water cycle. Through a series of practical activities, they show how to make the concepts of evaporation and condensation more tangible for children. For example children could investigate evaporation looking at how the rate of evaporation is affected by temperature, the surface area of the object or the material.

In chapter 4 Michael investigates how to collect drinking water. Children could investigate how to use condensation as a method of collecting water.

publication year
2010 to 2019

1 file

0

5

Kitchen Concoctions

In chapter 7 Michael watches Kensuke painting. He has made the brushes and paint from natural resources that he has gathered.

In Kitchen Concoctions the children learn to make their own bars of soap and recipes for the perfect bubble mixture. There are lots of mathematical possibilities within these pattern seeking investigations for looking at ratio and proportion. Plus considering how recipes are scaled up for manufacture.

Kensuke and Michael rely on fire for warmth. In kitchen concoctions there is an investigation where the children develop a fire extinguisher.

publication year
2010 to 2019

12 files

0

5

How can we clean our dirty water?

In chapter 4 Michael begins to learn how to collect clean drinking water. This is the most essential survival skill and poses an interesting problem solving scenario!

In this series of films and resources, Professor Brian Cox works with children to investigate how can we clean our dirty water. By building simple filtration systems using basic resources sand and sieves, the children can create a filter to make the water clean. Afterwards their samples can be judged in terms of their cleanliness and transparency. Further videos show Brian Cox visiting a sewage treatment plant to see how sewage is cleaned by various processes so it can be returned to rivers

publication year
2010 to 2019

1 file

1

5

Published by

STEM Learning's picture
STEM Learning

Actions

Share this resource

Comments