This critical challenge helps students recognize how the past contributes to their sense of identity by introducing the notion of memories and by inviting them to identify a powerful family memory. Introduce the activity by asking students to explain what memories are and discussing the various features of memories (e.g., positive/negative, happy/frightening, clear/vague). Read aloud a story such as Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox, or a similar story that focuses on memories. In Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, Miss Nancy and a boy named Wilfred Gordon are good friends. Miss Nancy, who lives in a seniors' home, "loses her memory" and Wilfred tries to discover what memories are so he can help her find her memory. Discuss the different memories in the book and classify them into categories such as happy or sad and funny or scary. Ask if some memories might be more important than others and what makes them so powerful. Develop criteria for powerful memories such as "clearest", "hardest to forget", "biggest effect on personal life."
Encourage students to think of some of their happiest memories. Invite students to recall a range of strong positive memories associated in four categories:
- people (e.g., grandparents, aunts, family friends) who created a positive feeling,
- special activities or events (e.g., cherished celebrations and traditions),
- unique places (e.g., a cozy spot, a favoured destination),
- things (e.g., a favourite book, an inseparable toy).
From these, ask students to select the most powerful memory. Invite students to illustrate this memory and, when sharing their illustrations with the class, refer to the criteria to explain why this memory is so powerful. See Identifying Family Memories (Modelling the Tools) for detailed suggestions on how to teach and assess the tools for thoughtful consideration of students' family memories.