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Tools of the Trade: Using Objects to Spark Memory Writing

by Kelly Virgin

In Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas a little boy literally interprets explanations of memories and brings a collection of objects to his aging neighbor. At first the neighbor, Miss Nancy Allison Delacort Cooper, thinks the boy is strange, but then as she handles each object she begins to remember…

This story of friendship proves how powerful objects can be in provoking strong and vivid memories. With this in mind, my students and I spent a week observing the tangible in hopes of triggering the intangible.

My life is like…

Students spent some time twisting and bending a piece of wire into a shape that is representative of them or significant to them in some way. Once everyone had shaped their wire, we studied a quick mentor text titled “My Life has Been like a Basketball Game.” Finally, students wrote about how their life has been like their shape. Students conjured up memories to explain and make connections to musical instruments, game controllers, pets, vehicles, etc.

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