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Elementary Writing Lesson: Pretend Memoirs

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 9/11/2012

This writing lesson gives students the opportunity to pretend they are looking back they are looking back on their life and write their memoir.

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    Introducing the Lesson

    Begin the lesson by explaining to the class the concept of a memoir. You may want to share a story from your own childhood as an example. Explain that your story was an example of a memoir; a story about memories from your past. Remind students about the role the five senses have in memory recall. Ask for examples of a smell, sound, taste, sight, or touch that triggered a memory. You may want to keep a list on the board or on chart paper. For example, the smell of popcorn may remind someone of a time when their family went to the movies together.

    Students will be asked to use their imaginations and think about how it would be like to be an adult. They will pretend that they are an adult, looking back on their childhood.

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    Art Activity

    Time for Art Activity: 2 class sessions

    Students need to think of a memory that they can illustrate in a drawing or painting. These questions may help them come up with a memory:

    • What was your neighborhood like growing up?
    • Is there something you did as a child that you wish you could do again?
    • What is the one moment from your childhood that you have never forgotten?
    • Did your family have a favorite vacation spot?
    • Do you ever taste, smell, hear, see, or touch something that brings back a memory from your childhood?

    Remind students that they are pretending they are adults, looking back on their childhood. Once students have chosen a memory, ask them to think about the details of that memory. They should rely on their senses to retrieve these details. You may ask them to get out a piece of paper and make a list of these details. Then, they can reference it when they make their picture.

    Students can then draw or paint a scene showing their memory. Encourage them to include as many details as possible.

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    Writing Activity

    Time for Writing Activity: 2-3 class sessions

    The emphasis of this writing activity is on details. Using their picture as a reference, are there details that they remember that are not included in the picture? How did they feel in their memory? Ask students to make a list of specific details and why each is important to sharing the memory.

    Students should then organize their ideas and details into a rough draft of their memoir. They can then self-edit or peer-edit their drafts and write a final copy that can be displayed with their picture. Depending on the grade level, you can set a guideline on the length of the story.