The Lighthouse Family: The Storm by Cynthia Rylant

Teacher Guide by Ashley Trudeau

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The Lighthouse Family - The Storm Lesson Plans

Student Activities for The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Include:

The Lighthouse Family: The Storm by Cynthia Rylant is the first story in the popular series. The book introduces how the beloved Lighthouse Family came to be. Readers will fall in love with this unconventional family, and beg to read more titles in the series.

The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Character Map

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This log, also known as a Character Map, allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!

You can click on this map and create a copy on your teacher account. Feel free to use it as is, or to edit it for the level of your class. Printing it as worksheets for your students to complete while reading is a fast and easy way to incorporate this character map into your classroom.

Here is an example for Pandora:

  • Physical Appearance: Cat
  • Character Traits: Good heart, lighthouse keeper, friendly, healer, saves lives
  • Evidence: "But Pandora was not afraid of this life, for her heart was so good and clear that fear would not creep inside it.”
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The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Vocabulary Lesson Plan

Copy Assignment

Another great way to engage your students is by creating a storyboard that uses vocabulary from The Lighthouse Family: The Storm.

In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words using sentences and corresponding images. Students may be provided the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text. The sentences and images validate the understanding of the word and the context that it was used in the novel.

Here are some ways to help your students find the meaning of the vocabulary words they choose:

  1. Use context clues: Sometimes you can figure out the meaning of a word by reading the sentences that come before and after the unknown word.
  2. Sometimes, the author may tell the definition of the word right in the same sentence or in the following sentence.
  3. Picture clues may help define an unknown word.
  4. Look at the unknown word and look for parts you may know. Sometimes a new ending or beginning has been added or changed.
  5. Use a dictionary or glossary.

Here is a list of a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the story:


(Adj.) in low spirits from loss of hope or courage

Example: ”He thought he would be despondent. He thought he would be depressed.”


(N.) a roofed structure that offers an open view of the surrounding area

Example: ”I will build a gazebo at the top of the daisy-hill."


(V) an abrupt rough or violent movement

Example: ”Seabold was jolted from sleep by a sharp crack of lightning, a deep roar of thunder, and an enormous crashing wave."

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in The Storm by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Theme

Several themes are present in the book. Students can pick a theme to explore and should support their choice with specific details or events from the text. One prominent theme is family/companionship.

Example Student Response


Pandora and Seabold both live solitary lives and are fine with it. However, throughout the story they find that they like and need the companionship of each other. Then when the three mice arrive, they find that they enjoy having the comfort of a family.

Example 1:

Pandora has been a lighthouse keeper for years in almost complete solitude. Though she loves her job, when Seabold arrives, she cannot help but love the changes happening in her life. She realizes she can still do her dream job and have a family.

Example 2:

Seabold has always been a sailor. When he was old enough, he built a boat and was off sailing the sea ever since. However, living at the lighthouse and seeing Pandora's selflessness made Seabold yearn for companionship and a higher purpose.

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Plot Diagram | The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Summary

Copy Assignment

In this activity, students decide on what they think the important parts in the text are, and categorize them into the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Having students decide on the beginning, middle, and end will help them break up the text, and make it easier to choose one or two main events to create. Students can plan their ideas with a partner or individually, and decide what main parts they would like to add to their storyboard.

The storyboard below shows one example for the beginning, middle, and end, but you could set a number of frames for the students to use based on the ability of the student, or length of the text.

Example The Storm Summary


Pandora and Seabold live solitary lives until a storm brings them together. Pandora saves Seabold and they become friends.


Seabold and Pandora enjoy each other's company and work together to tend to the lighthouse. One day they rescue three mice from a box floating aimlessly in the ocean.


Seabold, Pandora, and the three mice are happy. They are not lonely anymore; they are a family.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Make a storyboard summary of The Storm.

  1. Make a picture that shows the beginning of the story.
  2. Make a picture that shows the middle of the story.
  3. Make a picture that shows the end of the story.
  4. Write a sentence under each picture.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Text Connections

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Text Connections
Text to Text Connection that reminds you of something in another book or story
Text to Self Connection that reminds you of something in your life.
Text to World Connection that reminds you of something happening in the world.

Making connections is a very important skill to acquire and perfect. The Lighthouse Family: The Storm is a great story for students to connect to on many different levels. In this activity, students will be making text to text, text to self, and text to world connections. Students should choose which connection they want to make first and work to write a narrative for that. Once all three connections have been made, students can work on their illustrations.


  • Text - Rylant writes about Seabold, a dog, that is adventurous and likes to do things on his own.
  • Text - Rylant also writes the Henry and Mudge series, and one of the main characters is Mudge who is also a dog. Mudge loves adventures, like camping.


  • Text - Pandora loves being a lighthouse keeper. She loves that the lighthouse is a symbol of safety for people.
  • Self - I met a lighthouse keeper once, while visiting my favorite lighthouse.


  • Text - Seabold gets in a shipwreck and Pandora rescues him. When he sees the condition his boat is in from the wreck, he is sad, but he vows to fix it.
  • World - On the news, there was a segment about a shipwreck found on an island. People worked to fix the ship.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows connections you have made with The Storm. Include a connection for text to text, text to world, and text to self.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify parts of The Storm that you connect with.
  3. Parts from the The Storm go on the left side. The connections you make go on the right side.
  4. Create an image for each connection using scenes, characters, items, and text boxes.
  5. Write a description of how the text relates to another text, the world, and you.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Copy Assignment

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Compare and Contrast Characters | The Lighthouse Family: The Storm

A fun way to get your students to connect with and understand the two main characters is to have them compare and contrast their qualities.

Students can use the text to find character traits and physical traits of Pandora and Seabold. Students can work individually or in pairs to research and compile a list of evidence. Once students have traits for each character, they can compare/contrast. Students will describe the traits they compiled about Seabold on one side and the traits they discovered of Pandora on the other. The traits that they both share will go in the middle. Using the T-Chart layout, students can create their version of a Venn Diagram!

Here is an example:

    Pandora: lighthouse keeper
    Man: sailor
    Both: love the ocean

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The Lighthouse Family: The Storm Summary

Pandora the cat is a lighthouse keeper who has the lonely job of making sure the lighthouse is always working so that she can help save any sailors that are in need. When Pandora was a young cat, she and her father were on a boat that got caught in a storm. Miraculously, a lighthouse saved them. Ever since, Pandora knew that her destiny was to be a lighthouse keeper. Even though she was lonely, she knew she was doing the right thing.

Seabold is a dog and a sailor. As soon as he was old enough, he built a boat and was off navigating the seas. He did not mind being alone; in fact, he enjoyed it. He was a remarkable sailor and wanted to explore as much as he could.

One day, Seabold, who is normally very good at telling when a storm was coming, had a cold and was very tired. He took a very long nap and awoke to a great storm. All Seabold could do was cling to his boat and hope that he would find safe harbor.

Pandora rescues Seabold and tends to his wounds. When he wakes up he is very thankful for the cat who saved his life. Seabold and Pandora begin getting to know each other, and find that they have many things in common. For one, they both live lives of solitude.

Pandora finds that she enjoys the company of Seabold and looks forward to having a friend to share her days with. Seabold is enjoying his stay, too. As his wounds heal, he begins to help around the island (including fixing his boat). He knows that Pandora is a lighthouse keeper, but with no storms or need for the saving lamp, he almost forgets there is a lighthouse at all. One day, there is a terrible storm. Seabold, who is too hurt to help, sits in the house in bewilderment at the determination of the cat at saving lives. Pandora would sit in the lighthouse for hours on end with the lamp and the horn, all so that she could save a life.

After that, Seabold realizes that maybe he should plan to do something important with his life. He decides to stay with Pandora to help her tend to her lighthouse duties. They work together through the winter.

Spring arrives, and it also brings a surprise for the cat and dog. Seabold spots a floating crate in the water and he is determined to go out and see if there is life in the crate. He takes his boat (which is not finished, but could withstand a small journey) and paddles out to the box. He finds three small mice, scared and helpless. He brings them back to shore where Pandora is waiting with some water.

The three mice, Lila, Whistler, and Tiny, are very grateful for the cat and dog. Pandora and Seabold tend to Tiny who is sick. Pandora searches for a special branch to help Tiny’s fever and Seabold cuddles and cares for the fragile mouse. Seabold realizes that for once, he is happy.

The three mice continue living at the lighthouse with Pandora and Seabold and they become a perfect little family.

Essential Questions for The Lighthouse Family: The Storm

  1. Have you ever felt lonely? How can you help someone that is feeling lonely?
  2. Have you ever helped or saved someone?
  3. What does it mean to be a family?

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•   (English) The Lighthouse Family: The Storm   •   (Español) La Familia del Faro: La Tormenta   •   (Français) La Famille du Phare: La Tempête   •   (Deutsch) Die Leuchtturm-Familie: Der Sturm   •   (Italiana) Il Lighthouse Family: The Storm   •   (Nederlands) The Lighthouse Family: The Storm   •   (Português) A Família do Farol: A Tempestade   •   (עברית) משפחת מגדלור: הסערה   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) منارة الأسرة: العاصفة   •   (हिन्दी) द लाइटहाउस परिवार: द स्टॉर्म   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Семья Маяков: Шторм   •   (Dansk) The Lighthouse Family: The Storm   •   (Svenska) The Lighthouse Family: The Storm   •   (Suomi) Lighthouse Family: The Storm   •   (Norsk) The Lighthouse Family: The Storm   •   (Türkçe) Deniz Feneri Ailesi: Fırtına   •   (Polski) Rodzina Latarni Morskich: Burza   •   (Româna) Familia Farurilor: Furtuna   •   (Ceština) Maják Rodiny: Storm   •   (Slovenský) Rodina Majákov: Storm   •   (Magyar) A Lighthouse Family: A Storm   •   (Hrvatski) Obitelj Svjetionik: Oluja   •   (български) Семейство на Фара: Бурята   •   (Lietuvos) Švyturys Šeima: Storm   •   (Slovenščina) Svetilnik Družina: Storm   •   (Latvijas) Lighthouse Family: Storm   •   (eesti) The Lighthouse Family: Storm