Narrators 1, 2 (N1, N2)
George, a tall 10-year-old boy from New York
Phoebe, George’s 7-year-old sister
Aunt Daisy, George and Phoebe’s aunt
George thinks he’s the luckiest boy alive to be on this grand ship. But then disaster strikes.
Learning Objective: As students read this historical drama, they will identify the causes of this maritime tragedy and its effects on different passengers.
On board the Titanic, April 14, 1912
N1: The Titanic has been at sea for four days. It has almost completed its first voyage, from Southampton, England, to New York City.
N2: This is the most elegant ship ever built. And the safest. The Titanic’s designers say it is unsinkable.
N1: George, Phoebe, and Aunt Daisy are traveling in first class back to New York after a vacation in London.
Phoebe: Georgie, don’t you want to come for tea?
George: Nah, I’m heading out to explore the ship.
Phoebe: You must have seen every inch of this ship by now!
Aunt Daisy: Well, enjoy your adventure. Just don’t be late for dinner!
N2: George runs off. He soon discovers the engine rooms and the first-class swimming pool. Then he finds himself on the third-class deck. A little boy comes up to him.
Enzo (pointing to himself): Enzo!
Enzo (thrilled): Giorgio!
Marco: You’re Enzo’s first American friend. We’re from Italy, but soon we’ll be Americans.
N1: George and Marco talk for a while. Then George notices how late it is and jumps up.
Enzo (grabbing George’s legs): No go, Giorgio!
George: Sorry! I have to go. I hope we’ll see each other again!
Marco: Something tells me we will.
Later that night
N2: George, Phoebe, and Aunt Daisy are asleep in their suite.
N1: They don’t know it yet, but the ship has just hit an iceberg. Water is pouring through holes in the side of the ship.
N2: There’s a loud knock on the door. A voice calls from the hallway.
Steward: Hello? Hello?
Aunt Daisy (half asleep): It’s after midnight!
Steward (calling through the door): We’ve bumped an iceberg, ma’am. The captain wants everyone out on deck.
Phoebe (rubbing her eyes): Is this a joke?
Steward: Do hurry. You’ll need your life vests.
N1: There are people running, pushing, and shoving their way through the ship.
N2: In all the confusion, the family ends up downstairs instead of out on the main deck.
N1: A crowd of panicked third-class passengers are in the hallway. All they want is to get to the upper decks.
N2: No one bothered to tell them, but they know something is wrong with the ship. Many woke up to find their rooms flooded with seawater.
Enzo: Giorgio! Giorgio!
N1: It’s Enzo and Marco.
Aunt Daisy: George, who is this boy?
Marco: We are friends of Giorgio.
N2: The ship groans. It tips forward. People fall like dominoes.
N1: Meanwhile, the stairs to the upper decks are locked.
N2: And the ship doesn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone.
N1: First-class passengers are loaded into the lifeboats. But third-class passengers are forced to wait.
Marco: We must find another way up!
Aunt Daisy: It’s up to you, George. You know this ship better than any of us.
N2: George closes his eyes, trying to remember the hidden passageways he’s discovered on his adventures.
George (pointing down the hall): This way!
N1: They hurry down the hall, splashing through water that is rising quickly.
N2: They run through a maze of hallways to the packed boat deck.
Officer 1: There’s a lifeboat about to leave! The lady and children must come at once.
Officer 2 (to Marco): Sorry, sir, women and children only.
Narrator 3: Marco speaks quietly to Enzo, then hands the boy to George.
Aunt Daisy: We will watch out for him. I promise.
N1: George, Phoebe, and Aunt Daisy try not to cry as they leave Marco.
N2: The officer helps Phoebe, Enzo, and Aunt Daisy into the boat. But when George tries to follow, the officer blocks his way.
Officer 1: Women and children only, sir. No room for you. Lower away!
Aunt Daisy: No! Wait! He’s only a boy! He needs to come with us!
N1: George stands in shock as the lifeboat is lowered into the dark sea.
N2: The Titanic’s bow is completely underwater. Water washes over the deck.
N1: George is frozen in fear. Then he feels a hand on his shoulder.
Marco: Giorgio! We must get off this ship!
N2: Marco pulls George to the rail.
N1: They both climb over and join hands. Then they leap into the freezing water.
N2: Marco grabs a door floating by. He helps George climb on top of it. Then he finds a small crate to keep himself afloat.
N1: George sees the Titanic in the distance. Its lights flicker out.
N2: The ship explodes before disappearing into the water. Many trapped passengers go down with it.
N1: Marco is so tired that he closes his eyes and barely moves.
N2: George is almost out of hope when he hears voices behind him.
N1: A lifeboat is nearby.
George: Marco! Marco! Wake up!
N2: Marco doesn’t move.
N1: George pulls Marco through the water, which is so cold it burns his skin.
N2: George drags Marco to the other side of the boat. He lifts himself up. Marco can barely move, but George manages to pull him into the boat too.
N1: They float in silence in the icy sea
N2: George stays close to Marco, trying to keep him warm. Marco is barely breathing. Then ...
George: Look! Is that a ship?
N1: The ship Carpathia has already picked up hundreds of Titanic survivors from lifeboats.
N2: Many of the survivors are lined up at the railing. They’re waving and shouting at George’s boat.
N1: One voice rises up over the others.
Enzo: Papa! Papa! Giorgio!
Marco (weakly): Enzo!
George: They’re all safe, Marco! And so are we.
When your students read this play, let them know that it was based on Lauren Tarshis’ book, I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic. Encourage your students to enter our contest for a chance to win a signed copy of her book!
In this 1-minute video, author Lauren Tarshis shares a surprising research strategy--one you can try with your students!
For years, scientists have worked to recreate exactly how the Titanic sunk. Here’s a 2 1/2-minute video of James Cameron and his team creating new CGI of how the ship sank. They explain what’s happening in a way your students will understand.
Your students will be fascinated to see what the wreck of the Titanic looks like today, over 100 years since it sank. This nearly 6-minute video shows footage shot at an expedition to the wreck. We recommend starting at the 0:53 second mark, as the first minute is full of scientific jargon that will go over kids’ heads. Be sure to pre-screen it to make sure it won’t be too scary for your students!
More About the Article
Social studies: Geography, world history
Social-emotional learning: Social awareness (empathy); responsible decision-making (analyzing situations, identifying problems, solving problems); relationship skills (relationship building, teamwork)
Cause and effect, key details, making inferences, plot, compare and contrast, figurative language, drawing conclusions
1. PREPARING TO READ
Set a Purpose for Reading / Explore Text Features (5 minutes)
Introduce Vocabulary (15 minutes)
2. FOCUS ON FLUENCY
Bridging Decoding and Comprehension
3. CLOSE READING
Reading and Unpacking the Text
Close-Reading Questions (30 minutes)
Critical-Thinking Question (10 minutes)
4. SKILL BUILDING
Divide your class into groups and assign each group one scene from the play. (Since Scenes 2 and 5 are short, one group can work on both scenes.) Remind students to pay attention to the punctuation marks and the stage directions in parentheses. When groups perform their scenes in class, record their performances.
Read the play aloud while students follow. Ask them to circle the stage directions in parentheses. Which ones describe how a character feels? Have students read aloud with the right expression. Which stage directions describe what a character does? Have students act these out.
Ask students to imagine they are newspaper reporters in 1912 interviewing the survivors of the Titanic after they safely land in New York City. Have them write at least three questions to ask the survivors about their experiences. Students can read aloud their questions in groups and take turns answering them.