In this challenge, which might serve as an introductory lesson to the inquiry, students learn about the affiliations that contribute to a person's sense of belonging by trying to determine the identity of a person represented in a mystery box.
Prepare for the activity by assembling five or more objects associated with a person well known to the children. This person might be you, another member of the school or a fictional character. Objects might relate to the individual's gender, special locations, favourite activity and items connected to the past (e.g., a family keepsake, a souvenir of a holiday) and to culture (e.g., languages, traditions, celebrations).
Bring the assembled objects to school sealed is a decorative box. Introduce the activity by explaining that students are to assume the role of detective by carefully considering a number of clues represented by the objects in your mystery box. Remove the items in the box one at a time and ask students to identify people who might match the clue (e.g., "What might this clue mean? The person is female and likes cars? Who do we know who is a female and likes cars?"). Chart the clues and responses. Guide students in checking each guess about the mystery person with each new clue until they are ready to offer their "best guess" as to the person's identity. You may want to adapt one of the strategies and charts in Considering Options (Support Material) to structure this activity. Remind students that a best guess is an answer that seems to meet all of the clues. When the correct identity has been revealed, discuss which clue provided the most information in helping them to decide. Discuss how the identity of a person is revealed through the personal connections to the events, feelings and traditions represented by the objects.
As an extension, read one or more stories (see References for suggestions) about individuals who have explored their identify through artifacts associated with powerful memories. Explain to students that the power of these connections is reflected in the importance that people attach to many personal and cultural objects (e.g., national flags, cultural symbols, religious objects). Many of the other activities suggested for this inquiry invite students to explore significant family and community attachments. You might encourage students to create a memory quilt or assemble their own memory box as records of these significant features in their lives.