Skellig by David Almond – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

Last updated

Are you looking for a captivating and thought-provoking book to use in the classroom? Skellig by David Almond is attractive as it has an imaginative plot, diverse characters, and touches on many profound themes.

As a teacher, there are plenty of activities you can use when exploring this incredible novel with your students.

Here, we will provide an overview of what to expect from Skellig and share some planning resources to help you make the most out of teaching this story in the classroom.

Related: For more, check out our article on Abomination by Robert Swindells  here.


The Story of Skellig by David Almond

The story of Skellig, written by David Almond, follows a young boy named Michael who moves to a new house with his family.

He discovers an older man living in the garage and learns his name is Skellig. As they get to know each other, Michael learns more about the mysterious being and becomes increasingly fascinated by him.

Together, they embark on a journey of discovery where Michael learns more about life, death, and the magic of nature and encounters surprises along the way.

Ultimately, Michael must come to terms with what he has learned and use it to find his place in the world.

Central Themes in Skellig by David Almond


The story of Skellig revolves around a unique and unexpected friendship between Michael, a young boy, and Skellig, an older man living in the garage.

The bond between them transcends normal boundaries, and as they spend more time together, Michael discovers the power of friendship to create understanding and joy.


Skellig introduces readers to a magical world of nature through its enchanting descriptions of wildlife, creatures and plants found in Michael’s backyard.

Michael slowly begins to realise how connected he is with everything else in the world through his interactions with animals and observing the beauty of nature.


The story takes on a darker tone when it deals with mortality and death. With Skellig’s deteriorating health, readers are given an insight into how death can be thought about differently.

Through this exploration, we gain a deeper appreciation for life and value each moment more fully.


Michael discovers many unexpected things about himself and those around him throughout his journey with Skellig.

He finds strength within himself that allows him to accept and understand the challenges he encounters.

At the same time, Michael also believes that miracles can happen when one least expects them.


Main Characters in Skellig by David Almond


Michael is the main protagonist of the story. He is a curious young boy who moves to a new house with his family and discovers Skellig, a mysterious older man living in the garage.

As they get to know each other, Michael gradually learns more about life, death, and the power of friendship.


Skellig is an older man living in the garage of the house Michael’s family has moved into.

At first, he appears mysterious and strange, but soon it becomes evident that he has a powerful connection to nature and fantastic knowledge of life’s mysteries.

He helps guide Michael on a journey of understanding and discovery.


Mina is an angel-like figure that appears throughout the novel as an apparition and a physical character.

She is mysterious and kind, comforting Michael during difficult moments while teaching him important lessons about life and death.


Michael’s older sister Angela often mediates between him and their parents regarding matters involving their new home.

She also plays a vital role in helping her brother understand his feelings for Skellig and how he can use them to cope with his mortality.

Teaching Opportunities in Skellig by David Almond


Skellig is rich in sensory imagery, making it an ideal text for teaching students how to create vivid mental images of a scene or character.

By analysing the descriptive language used throughout the novel, students can understand how imagery can be used to develop a strong narrative.


The characters in Skellig are incredibly varied and complex, providing ample opportunities for exploring characterisation techniques.

By examining each character’s actions, words and appearance, readers can better appreciate how they interact with one another and their place within the story’s overall arc.

Theme Development

The themes explored in Skellig provide valuable insights into mortality, friendship and nature.

Through analysis of its structure and dialogue, students can gain insight into how themes can be developed through subtle yet effective literary devices. They will also understand how these themes work together to form a coherent whole.

Lesson Plans



By the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify and analyse critical examples of imagery within Skellig and create vivid mental images based on the text.


To begin the lesson, explain how authors use descriptive language to create an immersive reading experience for their audience.

Introduce students to Skellig by David Almond and ask them to consider what type of imagery they think might be found in the novel.

Main Teaching Point:

As a class, read through a short novel section containing vivid descriptions. Ask students to identify keywords or phrases that stand out due to their sensory detail and discuss how they help create a graphic mental image for readers.

Then, provide students with a list of descriptive words and have them put together their sentence or passage that utilises imagery.

Finally, please encourage them to develop creative ways to apply these techniques when creating their writing pieces.

Key Questions:

  • What types of adjectives or descriptions did you identify in the text?
  • How do authors use sensory descriptions to evoke emotion in readers?
  • Can you come up with an example of your own using descriptive words?
  • What techniques can you apply when writing your pieces?


After completing this exercise, ask students to share someone their creative examples with the class and explain how they used imagery when crafting it.

This will give everyone an insight into how different minds utilise language differently and inspire them in their writing endeavours.



At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify critically readable characterisation within Skellig and other texts.

They will also be equipped with tools for examining characters more closely to gain deeper insight into individual personalities and overall story arcs.


Start by having students define characterisation and provide examples from films or books they are familiar with.

Then introduce Skellig by David Almond and ask them to consider who they think may play essential roles throughout its narrative arc.

Main Teaching Point:

As a class, read through a chapter containing conversations between two characters

– preferably Michael and either Skellig or Mina – paying close attention to the dialogue, facial expressions, and body language cues that provide clues regarding each character’s thoughts and feelings at any given moment.

Afterwards, give students time to write notes on either character based on what they read before sharing observations in small groups or pairs.

Key Questions:

  • What believable traits stand out about each character?
  • How does dialogue reveal something about each character’s personality?
  • What evidence did you find from facial expressions or body language?
  • Do these characters change over time? If so, how?


Once all discussion points have been addressed, allow students to share final reflections on what they learned about characterisation from reading Skellig before asking them to apply similar knowledge when analysing other texts.

Website Resources


[]: This website provides valuable teaching resources for the novel Skellig by David Almond. It includes questions, worksheets and activities to help students explore themes such as friendship, mortality and nature. Click here for more information!

[]: This page offers a range of reading and writing tasks related to Skellig by David Almond, designed to engage KS3 classes in the novel’s exploration of themes such as identity, discovery and loss. Click here for more information!

[Teachwire]: This website provides an excellent starting point for exploring the themes in Skellig by David Almond through activities and discussion prompts that can be used across Key Stage 2 English lessons. Click here for more information!

[Planbee]: This page hosts an English pack focusing on Skellig by David Almond which features various ready-made lesson plans, activities and worksheets – perfect for getting your class involved in exploring themes such as friendship, dreams and nature from the novel. Click here for more information!


With its intricate plot, multifaceted characters, and thought-provoking themes, this novel provides ample opportunities for engaging discussions and creative activities.

Have you imagined the rich dialogues that might ensue, or the depth of reflection that could be fostered?

And don’t forget, we have provided a broad spectrum of planning resources designed to support you in this journey.

These tools can help you unlock the full potential of Skellig, guiding your teaching strategies and enhancing your students’ learning experience. Aren’t these resources invaluable aids in your mission to inspire young minds?

Remember, the goal is not just to teach a novel, but to use literature as a springboard for broader exploration and critical thinking. And doesn’t Skellig fit this purpose perfectly? So why wait?

Dive into the world of Skellig and let it transform your classroom into a space of imagination, empathy, and intellectual growth. Isn’t that the ultimate aim of education?


What topics are addressed in Skellig by David Almond?

The novel explores many important themes, such as friendship, mortality, dreams and the environment.

How can I incorporate Skellig into my teaching plan?

Several resources are available online to help you get started – from lesson plans and activities to worksheets and discussion points. It might also be helpful to look up the novel’s reviews or learn more about its author.

Are there any additional resources that can help me teach Skellig?

Yes! Depending on your needs, consider purchasing an English pack designed explicitly for Skellig, which contains an extensive range of materials, from ready-made lesson plans and activities to worksheets focusing on particular aspects of the novel.

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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