The Old Man and the Sea School Projects

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Hemingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea' is about an old man and his struggle to move past his hindrances to catch a fish. This lesson provides a variety of school projects for this book.

The Old Man and the Sea

Santiago was an unlucky man struggling to catch fish as he had done his whole life. The Old Man and the Sea is a story of Santiago's journey of losing his one pupil due to his inability to catch fish, and his journey farther than ever to find an epic catch. However, he is bested by the sea and several sharks that slowly eat the marlin he had caught down to only the skeleton. The old man thinks he is finished until his pupil comes to help him and explains that he was not truly bested and that even the town realizes his accomplishment.

This book is one of Hemingway's popular novels that discusses the strength we all find within ourselves when we are challenged. However, to make the book relatable to students of today, it's good to find projects that engage students and get them excited about this passionate novel.

Individual Projects

Individual projects allow students to focus on a project fully since they do not have to deal with other students schedules or ideas. In this section, we'll take a look at some individual projects.

Five Days

The book tells of five days in Santiago and Manolin's lives. Have students record five days of their lives and their adventures. At the end of the novel, have each student assess their five days to see if there are any similarities to the novel. This project will help students see that they could do more in a day, which may also help with their ambitions for school and life in general.


Santiago had things on his boat he could not do without, some things he could have thrown out but kept anyway. Have each student look at their own lives and and do an inventory. Then have them create a collage or bring in things that they could do without, but are intrinsically important to them, as well as the things they could not do without. This helps students reflect on their own lives and situations to gain perspective on the book.


Have students pretend to be Santiago or Manolin, and have them each create 5-10 journal entries for those characters during the 5-day time frame in The Old Man and the Sea. This is good for students to get into the mindset of the characters.

Animal Relations

In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago sees similarities between himself and the marlin. Have the students identify these traits, and then pick an animal for themselves that they relate to the most. Each student can notate the traits that share with the animal and why. This not only helps with understanding the book and themselves, but also provides a little research on animals and their behaviors.

Group Projects

Group projects are a great way to have students learn how to work with a variety of personalities and cultures within a class. Plus, group projects allow for larger, more intricate work, which can create a better understanding of the book. In this section, we'll take a look at some group projects.

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