Kensuke’s Kingdom – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

Last updated

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo is a classic adventure tale for students of all ages. Filled with mystery and discovery, Kensuke’s Kingdom follows the story of Michael, an adventurous twelve-year-old who finds himself stranded on an island in the Pacific Ocean.

With compelling characters and a captivating plot, this literature resource can be used to generate meaningful classroom discussions around themes such as courage, friendship, and family.

To structure your time spent working through or teaching from Kensuke’s Kingdom, try utilizing our planning overview, which contains lesson plan activities that provide scaffolding before introducing each chapter.

This will support you and your students to ensure each concept is fully addressed!

Related: For more, check out our article on The Golden Compass  here.

Kensuke's Kingdom

The storyline of Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

After his parents decide to go on a sailing trip around the world, twelve-year-old Michael leaves England with his family in search of adventure. When fierce storms and high seas crash the boat into a remote island, Michael is stranded there for months.

He lives there alone until he meets an old Japanese fisherman named Kensuke, who helps him survive and develops a strong bond with Michael over time.

Meanwhile, Michael’s family frantically searches for him at home as they sail around the globe, hoping to find their lost son.

After daring adventures involving wild animals, deadly accidents, and monstrous sea creatures, Kensuke reveals he has been looking out for Michael since World War II when he was rescued by one of Kensuke’s ships during an air raid.

With this newfound knowledge, Kensuke helps reunite Michael with his family—whose love will never change—and finally allows him to leave his beloved Kingdom behind.

Kensuke's Kingdom

The Themes in Kensuke’s Kingdom

Theme of Adventure

Kensuke’s Kingdom follows Michael and his family as they embark on a daring adventure that eventually leads them to a remote island.

Throughout this journey, the book explores themes of adventure and discovery as Michael navigates through new scenarios and faces unknown dangers on the island.

The story’s portrayal of adventure encourages readers to take risks and explore the world for exciting experiences.

The theme of Family Love

When Michael is stranded on the island, he is comforted by memories of his family frantically searching for him.

These memories serve as a reminder that even when it seems like all hope is lost, family love can bring people back together no matter how far apart they may be.

This theme highlights the importance of having strong family relationships and celebrates the unconditional love between parents and their children.

Theme of Redemption

The story also explores themes of redemption and forgiveness, as Kensuke reveals his connection with World War II events which have haunted him throughout his life.

By sharing these experiences with Michael, Kenseke can finally forgive himself and move on from his past mistakes. Ultimately, this helps both characters find healing while inspiring readers to forgive those who wronged them to achieve inner peace.

The Main Characters In Kensuke’s Kingdom


Michael is the main protagonist of Kensuke’s Kingdom. He is an adventurous twelve-year-old who embarks on a sailing trip around the world with his parents, eventually stranded on a remote island.

His courage, strength of character and creative spirit allow him to survive on the island until Kensuke arrives and helps him through harrowing ordeals.


Kensuke is an elderly Japanese fisherman who lives alone on a remote island near Michael’s family’s destination.

He has spent many years living in isolation and has developed a strong bond with nature. Over time he begins to warm up to Michael and share his knowledge of survival skills with him, ultimately becoming an unlikely mentor for the young boy.

Michael’s Family

Michael’s family includes his parents, grandmother, sister and brother, who are all out searching for him when he becomes stranded on the island.

They love him deeply and go to great lengths to find him while they sail around the world, hoping to bring him home safely.

Teaching Opportunities in Kensuke’s Kingdom

Finding Adventure

Kensuke’s Kingdom provides an opportunity for teaching about the thrill of adventure and discovery. The story encourages readers to embark on adventures and take risks to find excitement.

This can be used as an opportunity to teach students to follow their dreams and prepare them with the necessary skills to survive while exploring the world.

Embracing Family Love

The story also serves as a reminder of the love between family members, no matter how far apart they might be.

It is an opportunity for teachers to explore themes of family relationships and forgiveness with their students, helping them better understand how important it is to maintain these connections even when separated by distance.

Growing from Mistakes

Finally, Kensuke’s Kingdom presents a chance for teachers to discuss redemption and personal growth with their students. The story highlights Kensuke’s journey towards self-forgiveness, allowing him to move forward despite his past mistakes.

This is a great teaching point for students about accepting responsibility for our actions and learning from our mistakes to become better individuals.

Lesson Plan 1: Finding Adventure


  • Students will explore the concept of adventure and learn about the thrill it provides.
  • Students will reflect on their courage and willingness to take risks to find excitement.
  • Students will be able to identify and prepare themselves with the survival skills needed for different explorations.


This lesson plan is based on Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo, a thrilling story about 12-year-old Michael’s journey of discovery when he becomes stranded on an island near their destination with no sign of his family.

During his time alone, he learns many important lessons from his unlikely mentor Kensuke, including the importance of taking risks to find adventure.

Main Teaching Points

In this lesson plan, we will focus on exploring the concept of adventure and its potential rewards and preparing students for any explorations they might embark upon.

Firstly, we will discuss what motivates people to go on adventures and why having that sense of curiosity within us is essential.

We will examine historical examples demonstrating how taking risks can lead to great discoveries or inventions.

Finally, we will explore how to prepare ourselves for explorations or adventures that involve going beyond our comfort zones by learning survival skills.


To wrap up the lesson, we can ask the students reflective questions such as: What was one idea or concept you found interesting in today’s discussion? How do you think adventure has changed over time?

What skills would you need if you decided to go on your experience? Are there certain things you could do now which would help prepare you for future exploration?

Key Questions

  • What motivates us to go on adventures?
  • Can we learn anything valuable from our explorations?
  • How do we prepare for possible dangers or obstacles during an adventurous journey?

Lesson Plan 2: Embracing Family Love


  • Students will understand why it is essential for families to stay connected despite the distance separating them.
  • Students will discuss themes related to family relationships, such as forgiveness and unconditional support.
  • Students will reflect on their family relationships and better understand their significance in life.


This lesson plan is based on Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo, which tells a heartwarming tale about Michael’s search for his family while stranded on a remote island near his destination with no sign of his relatives anywhere in sight.

While waiting patiently, he discovers the power of unconditional love between family members even when separated by endless miles apart through encounters with a kind older man named Kensuke, who eventually helps him reunite with his loved ones.

Main Teaching Points

In this lesson, we focus mainly on themes related to family relationships, such as forgiveness and unconditional support shown between parents/guardians and children alike throughout the story of Kensuke’s Kingdom.

We can first begin by discussing what sort of qualities make up an ideal family relationship, then move on to looking at some specific moments from

Michael’s story that display examples of these qualities, such as loyalty between siblings, understanding parental guidance and finding strength during difficult times through family love.


To conclude this session, we should ask questions like: Have there been any occasions where your family has shown unconditional love towards each other?

Is there room for improvement in your relationships that can help strengthen bonds between loved ones? What are some traits/values that make up a strong relationship between parents/guardians and children?

Key Questions

  • What qualities make up an ideal family relationship?
  • What are some examples from Michael’s story that demonstrate unconditional support found within families?
  • How does embracing domestic love help during challenging times?

Its inspiring how Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo can serve as a powerful educational tool?

Through the narrative of young Michael and his island adventure, we open the door to a world of rich discussion around courage, friendship, and family.

Can you envision the engaging conversations and critical thinking this adventure tale could inspire in your classroom?

Utilizing our detailed planning overview with pre-structured lesson plan activities provides a roadmap to guide you through each chapter. Can you see how this scaffolding approach can help ensure your students fully understand and appreciate every concept?


Q1: Why should I choose Kensuke’s Kingdom as a class text?

A1: That’s an insightful question! Kensuke’s Kingdom is a captivating adventure story that explores themes such as courage, friendship, and family. Can you see the in-depth discussions and critical thinking that could be sparked in your classroom?

Q2: How does the planning overview support teaching Kensuke’s Kingdom?

A2: Great query! The planning overview provides structured lesson plan activities for each chapter, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the book’s concepts. Can you imagine how this could streamline your teaching process?

Q3: What themes from Kensuke’s Kingdom can we focus on during class discussions?

A3: There are numerous themes to delve into, including survival, friendship, and the importance of home. Can you imagine the engaging classroom debates these themes could inspire?

Q4: How can Kensuke’s Kingdom help develop students’ language skills?

A4: Excellent question! Studying this book can enhance vocabulary, comprehension, and analytical skills through its compelling narrative and character dialogues. Can you foresee the linguistic progress your students could make?

Q5: What engaging activities can I conduct to consolidate learning after teaching Kensuke’s Kingdom?

A5: There are several interactive options available such as dramatic readings, creating artwork inspired by the story, or even hosting a mock survival game based on the book’s plot. Can you sense the excitement these activities could generate in your classroom?

Q6: How can Kensuke’s Kingdom contribute to students’ overall personal development?

A6: By exploring the dilemmas and decisions faced by the characters, students can learn about empathy, decision-making, and the complexity of human relationships. Can you perceive the life lessons and personal growth opportunities inherent in this classic adventure tale?

Isn’t it exciting to consider the transformative learning journey you could embark on with Kensuke’s Kingdom? So why wait? Dive into this adventure today, and watch as your classroom transforms into an engaging exploration of literature!

Website Resources

Here are four web pages with valuable resources for teaching the book Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo:

Twinkl : This website provides various resources to help teachers and parents guide their KS2 class in learning about Kensuke’s Kingdom, including worksheets, storyboards and other activities. An excellent resource for students and teachers to get deeper into the story of Kensuke’s Kingdom. It includes discussion questions, character analysis activities and other lesson plans that can be used to explore the themes and characters from the book even further.

Teaching Ideas: Here, there is a selection of ideas for creative activities related to this title and more traditional comprehension exercises based on the text, such as cloze readings, crosswords and word searches.

Literacy Shed Plus: Literacy Shed Plus offers extensive materials to teach English Language Arts around Kensuke’s Kingdom, such as colourful posters, study guides and interactive quizzes!

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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