artifact · early childhood · memories · primary grades · seed ideas · writing workshop

Memory Boxes

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge was published in 1985, when I was in third grade. However, my third grade teacher never read it to me, nor did my fourth or my fifth. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of this Mem Fox Book until last week when my mother-in-law, a former first and third grade teacher who is now a Literacy Coach, mentioned it to me as a wonderful book to use when creating memory boxes with primary grade students in Writing Workshop. She told me about the text and it immediately brought a smile to my face. I had to get my hands on it.

It arrived from yesterday, but I didn’t have time to read it until today. My face lit up as the young boy went in search of artifacts to help Miss Nancy find her memory. But first, in case you’re unfamiliar with the book, Wilfrid Gordon has to figure out what a memory is. He asks some older, wiser people. This is the essence of their response:

A memory is…

  • something warm.
  • something from long ago.
  • something that makes you cry.
  • something that makes you laugh.
  • something as precious as gold.

Imagine reading this book and sending students home to look for something warm, something from long ago, something that makes them cry, something that makes them laugh, and something as precious as gold (or at least a photo of the “something as precious as gold”)… Imagine a class full of these special items that could be loaded inside of a memory box… Imagine the stories that would come from each of these ‘somethings’…

5 thoughts on “Memory Boxes

  1. I do a similar activity with my Pre-K class. I have a book titled Everybody Needs a Rock that we read to end the first day. They go home to look for their own rock and when they bring it back, we take a picture and they tell me why it is the right rock for them and then we put their name on it and set it out at snack every day. I also do a baggie activity early on in the school year with each child bringing 5 things that tell us something about them in a small baggie. We use these items for a bunch of activities over the first month as we get to know each other and use descriptive vocabulary.


  2. I adore this book and have used it each of my 11 years teaching. The memory boxes my kids bring in are so thoughtful and meaningful. A treasure of ideas! Thanks for your wonderful blog. It’s on my DAILY must-do list! 🙂


  3. If they are just finishing up elementary school, it would be a great book to ‘wrap up’ those elementary years with memories and artifacts. I was introduced to it last year from a get-together where we each brought a favorite children’s book. I bought it in the order I placed the next day. I almost brought it to Ruth’s WW class last month, but I had too many others to chose from instead! Picking just one is way too hard now. How ironic! What a good choice that would have been, though! Just too many to choose from on a bookaholic’s shelf at home!


  4. I know the 2nd grade teachers read this to the kids in my school. I wonder if there’s a way to make it into an interesting writing and artifact prompt for my sixth graders without them feeling like we’re reading a “baby book”….


Comments are closed.