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Developing Identity Boxes

Create an identity box that best represents how your family contributes to who you are.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

In this challenge, students learn about the ways in which their families shape each of their identities–who they are as people, what they like to do and what is important to them. Use a picture book to introduce the activities that families do together and the contributions various family members make (e.g., preparing dinner, playing games, teaching new skills). Books that would serve this purpose include Berenstain Bears' Stories by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Just Dad and Me by Leah Komaiko and Mary Ann Hoberman's Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers. Point out the connections between students' identities and their family members' interests, skills, contributions and special times. For example, if family members enjoy certain foods and a student has assisted in preparing this food, this interest in cooking is part of the student's identity.

Ask students to think what the family in the story did and liked. If needed, prompt students with questions such as:

  • What did family members like to do all the time?
  • What were family members good at?
  • What did family members do for each other?
  • Did the family have "special times"?

Record responses to each question in a separate column using words or simple images. Ask students to imagine that they are creating an identity box for the family in the story. What objects might they put in the box to represent each activity? Directly below each activity, record the objects associated with the activity, using words or simple images. Encourage students to think of more than one object for a given activity. The resulting chart might look something like the following:


Liked to do

Were good at

Did for each other

Special times

What the family did


Objects that match or represent the activity


Discuss why each of these would be a good representation of the family's activities. Draw students' attention to the term "objects that match or represent the activity" and as a class decide what makes an object representative. Develop simple criteria (e.g., reminds you of an activity, tells a story). Suggest that students can include four objects in the identity box. Invite students to decide which objects would best represent the family in the story.

Inform students that they will create an identity box showing how their families shape who they are. Invite students to include extended family members and other persons who they regard as family. Direct each pair to take turns telling one story based on each of the questions listed above. The listener should create a very simple drawing of each activity. Proceed in this way until each pair has told four stories and drawn a simple picture in each box. Ask partners to suggest to each other possible objects from the stories that might represent the activity. Encourage students to draw more than one representative object for each story. You may want to adapt one of the charts and strategies for Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

Invite each student to select four representative objects from the list to include in the box. Refer back to the criteria. Ask students what else they might consider. For example, if a hammer and a canoe both represent things the family is good at, how would students choose which to include in the box? Discuss expanding the criteria to include feasibility (e.g., the object must be available and must fit in a box or be represented by a toy replica, picture or student drawing). Direct students to circle or put a check mark (√) beside the objects they select to best represent their families. You may want to adapt one of the charts and strategies for Considering Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

Arrange for students to share completed boxes with peers, another class and/or their families. As each student holds up the objects in his or her box, ask the class to consider what they can learn about the person:

  • "What does this tell us about name ?"
  • "What do we know about name's family/group from looking at this identity box?"
Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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