I love this book with a passion! As far as teaching symbolism, this book really gets reluctant readers to "get it". The book has great characters, plenty of action, and lots of good, wholesome violence to keep teenagers happy. The only problem is that it starts so slowly.
Anyone who teaches reluctant readers knows that if you cannot hook them immediately, you've lost them.
So, while sitting in church one day when I should have been listening to the sermon, I had an idea for a game to get my students into the book. I made it all by hand with maps, cards, the whole nine yards. As the years went by, I get tired of replacing lost cards or materials that were marked on by various students and started to take it online. It took a few more years to perfect it, but I think I finally have it down pat. It has by far been the most popular page on my class web site by other teachers and it is the most mentioned lesson of mine when other teachers contact me.
I break my students into groups and each group represents 20 island-stranded kids. The students decide how many rescue fires they will have, where they will be sheltered, who goes hunting, who goes fruit gathering, and if they want to go exploring. Each round is a 'week' in the game.
First thing we do is have each group draw and Act of God card. These cards sometimes bring good things to the group, have no effect on the group, or (more likely) bring bad karma to the group. Then we draw cards to see what happens when they go hunting, fruit gathering, and exploring. At this point we tally up the morale. The morale goes up and down depending on many factors like having shelter for everybody, getting food, people dying (there are a lot of people dying), etc.
If the morale goes below 10, then the group leader has to draw a Revolt card to see what happens. Sometimes something good happens, but most likely something bad will. Then it's off to see if you get rescued.
For the teams that are left, they do it all over again for the next week with the remaining people they have left.
Sometime groups have everything perfect and it is more like a Gilligan's Island episode than a Lord fo the Flies scenario. Many groups get a good Lord of the Flies type experience, and some have so much bad luck that they make the book seem like a pleasant fairy tale.
Students are encouraged to think outside of the box and try things that are not expected. The teacher is the final say-so for what happens, so when students get creative, roll with it.
Whatever the outcome, the students experience situations that prep them for the action in the book. Whenever I have used this game, I have found that students are more connected to the reading.
I always like it when teachers send me how their students came up with something new. Sometimes I adjust the game to match it. when my students started sabotaging the game to try and make their leader draw a Revolt card, I introduced a new element - Mutiny. With some groups, that is very popular!
The game comes with the choice to either have it all online (in which case they would move objects on a screen), or to have printables for students to physically manipulate.