Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a curious and compassionate boy who wants to help an older neighbor recover her lost memory. To accomplish this, he asks for help understanding what a memory is. Mem Fox creates a warm story to relate Wilfrid’s search. After reading the story with your class, complete the following activity.
The Lesson Plan
- Students will identify and describe personal memories.
- Students will write in various formats.
- As a group, brainstorm words and phrases triggered by the word “memory." OR
- Have students complete one or both of the following pre-writing exercises.
Set a timer for three minutes. During this time, students should make a list of as many words or phrases as possible prompted by the word “memory."
Ask students to read their lists and circle the three words that attract them most.
Set a timer for two minutes. Students will repeat the brainstorming step, using one of the circled words as the prompt. Repeat this step with the remaining circled words.
Wet Ink Writing
Set the timer for three minutes. (For more experienced or confident writers, you may increase the time, but it should not exceed five minutes.)
During this time, students should write without stopping, responding to the prompt, “My Favorite Memory." If a student is unable to think of anything else, he should write sentences like “I don’t know what to write" or “I can’t think of anything" until a thought begins. The pencil should never stop moving during the timed interval.
- Read the book aloud with the students. Discuss the story, eliciting other ideas to describe or revive a lost memory, including different sensory reminders.
- Talk about students’ favorite memories and why they are special to the child.
- Using the template found here, students write diamante poems, using the lists generated during the pre-writing exercises.
- Enlist the aid of parents in collecting one penny for each year of the student’s life; gather a set for each student.
Students glue the pennies to construction paper or newsprint to create a timeline. For each penny year, students should write a short (1-3 sentences) description of an important personal event or special memory. Each year’s memory should be illustrated, either with a student’s own drawing or a copy of a family photograph.
Enrichment Extension Ideas
Students may cover a small box with copied photographs and other personal ephemera and then covering them with a mixture of craft glue and water to make a memory box to hold personal treasures.
Students may expand the “My Favorite Memory" pre-writing result into a more fully-developed personal narrative. They might also use the writing as a trigger for a fictional short story based on the memory.
Students may use the ideas from the book and from their pre-writing to make “memory cards” to be shared with residents in retirement homes.
Your students will have wonderful memories of this Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge lesson plan. Post a comment let us know how it worked for your class.