A few weeks ago, Julieanne Harmatz shared an idea with our beloved little Voxer group which she had heard about from the one and only Cornelius Minor, about creating a “mash up” box of items for kids to write from. The rest of us listened with excitement, and there was much back and forthing about what and this activity would look like in each of our classrooms,and (most importantly) how it would help our students in their writing journeys.
Margaret Simon wrote a fabulous post about assembling her “treasure box”, and I had high hopes of following her example…but I could not find a single shoe box in my entire house. When my kids lived at home, I had an entire shelf of our linen closet filled with boxes of all shapes and sizes for all the projects my kids seemed to need boxes for…but that was then, and in my empty nester now there isn’t a box in sight.
I filled plastic book baskets with an assortment of items I rustled up: maps, baseball and Pokemon cards, buttons, subway tickets, poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater , quotes, and odds and ends. By yesterday morning, I was ready for the big reveal, and so were my kids…
After just the briefest of invitations to reach in, investigate the items, and find one to inspire writing, they were off. The room grew noisy as they rummaged through the items, exclaiming or laughing or wondering. The room grew even noisier as they thought out loud about what they chose and why and how they would write about the item. And then the room grew quiet as they wrote stories about….
- the time they were knocked out cold by an errant baseball
- the subway ride from hell
- getting lost in London
- meeting Harry Potter at Platform #9
- morphing into a Pokemon character
- a favorite sweater, now lost
Just before the bell rang, I asked for a quick “say back”, and this is what they shared:
- I loved the freedom to write in any genre
- I always have such a hard time choosing a topic – but this made it so easy to choose what to write about
- the things in the box made me remember so much
- I liked combining two items for ideas
These magic boxes will find homes on a bookcase in our classroom, and I hope they will be reached for as writing inspiration. This was fun! So, thank you Julieanne and Cornelius.