Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, was named by a Dutch explorer who landed there on Easter Sunday in 1722. Known for its giant, carved monuments, Easter Island is the richest site of the megaliths of the Pacific island groups.
Have students watch the video segment Easter Island as a whole group or as part of a centers-based rotation. After viewing, have students work in small groups to identify SOS: 25 Things You Didn’t Know about Easter Island. With this strategy, students filter information to identify what is most important.
Then, explain that the thing that Easter Island is most known for today, its giant carved moai, may have also led to its cultural demise. Have students watch Lessons from Easter Island once. Then, rewatch the video, this time having students complete a PMI (Plus/Minus/Interesting) chart, as described in SOS: PMI. Ask students to think about the decision to build moai from the perspective of the islanders, categorizing information about the benefits of building moai (pluses), the reasons for not building moai (minuses), and other things they found interesting.
Finally, have students create persuasive flyers or posters arguing why or why not islanders should have continued to carve moai after they started to experience an environmental decline, or create a message warning islanders about invasive species. Display the posters and do a gallery walk, with students describing their work and evidence for their choices.