Video Writing Prompt: Life of Pi

Stephen Eldridge, TeachHUB

Based on a novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi tells the story of a boy struggling to survive after being stranded in a shipwreck. Some of your students may have seen the film, while others may not have. Using the trailer, you can get your students to think and write about survival.

After watching the video below, your students can respond to one of the video writing prompt questions. Encourage them to imagine how they’d feel in a situation like the one faced by Pi in the trailer, and use those feelings to inform their writing.

Grades K-2: Scary animals
In the trailer, Pi is stuck on a boat with an angry tiger. Although he is frightened, he and the tiger are forced together because neither one has any other place to go.

What animal frightens you most? Why? Write or draw to tell how scary it is.

Grades 3-5: Supplies for survival
Pi and the tiger are left alone on the small boat after their ship is wrecked. If you were stranded on a lifeboat, what three things would you most want to have with you? Write to explain each of your choices.

Grades 6-8: Personal stories about teamwork
At first, Pi and the tiger fight with each other, neither one wanting to share the life boat with the other. However, they both need to stay on the boat to survive. The trailer shows them working together later on.

Have you ever had to work with someone you didn’t like very much? Did you work together successfully? Tell how your relationship with the person changed, or didn’t, as you were forced to spend time together.

Grades 9-12: Analyzing conflicts in fiction
As you know, an important part of most stories is a conflict. The conflict can be between two characters, a character and himself or herself, or even between a character and their environment. Based on the trailer, describe two conflicts that appear to be important to the plot of the film. Explain whether the conflicts are related, and whether you think one is more important than the other.