I’ve got no time and less energy right now, it being the day before fall break, so instead of writing a post, enjoy this lesson plan I wrote for Americorps this summer!
- Start the lesson by telling the kids, “raise your hand if you have a good memory.” (Probably a lot of them will jump up, raising their hands and rattling off things they remember. Let this go on for a little bit, but then quiet them down.) Then tell them, “Okay, it’s good that so many of you have good memories, because something very important is about to happen, and I need all of you to remember it exactly.”
- Someone walks into the room with a pink flowerpot on their head. They have socks on their hands and a blue shirt on backwards. They walk to the floor, do a push-up and a jumping jack, and walk around the room counter-clockwise while saying, “I don’t want to eat plant food! My mom says I have to, even though it makes me sick and gassy and I’m pretty sure the little white bits are poisonous. But I don’t want to! I’d rather eat spaghetti, which I used to call noodles until my English teacher in fourteenth grade told me that it’s always best to use the least silly word for everything, so that everyone knows you’re a dull and pretentious person.” I’ll provide all the props, and hopefully we’ll have a printout of the script so whoever does it doesn’t have to memorize it. The actual details aren’t that important, so long as it’s all extremely specific and random.
- Ask the kids to describe what they just saw, and write what they say on the board. After establishing the broad details, ask for specifics. Ask what he said he didn’t want to eat, or what exercise he did when he walked in, or what color the pot on his head was.
- After we have a comprehensive list, have the person who did the random walking rant come in and go over what exactly the kids got right or wrong. Probably, they’ll have the broad strokes right but the specifics wrong.
- Explain to the kids that no one can remember everything. And if they had so much trouble remembering so soon after something so memorable had happened, imagine how much they would forget for things that happened days or weeks or years ago. That’s why it’s important to keep a journal: because, inevitably, you forget what you thought or how you felt. But a journal, which is a book you write in every day about your feelings, is sort of like a better memory, a memory that can’t forget or misremember. Tell them, “Of course, it’s not so important if you don’t remember what costume [SLICK member] was wearing today. But what if you forgot something really important, or found out something about yourself that you can only find by looking back? To show this, we’ve come up with a couple scenarios for you.”
- For each scenario:
- Read the scenario out loud.
- Ask what the person might be forgetting.
- Ask what they would learn by reading their older journal entries.
- Ask what the person in the scenario should do.
(Also, clarify that it’s okay to feel angry or sad sometimes, a journal isn’t supposed to fix your emotions. Rather, it’s supposed to help you look at the big picture and learn more about yourself).
Curt keeps a journal. One day, he writes down, “Wow, I can’t believe I saw Minecraft: The Movie on its midnight premiere! They managed to capture the fun of spending all day and night mining, and made it into a movie that was only five hours long! I sure will be tired when I get to school tomorrow, but it sure was worth it!” The next day, he writes, “Ugh. I totally failed my math test today. I could barely keep my eyes open, and the numbers didn’t make any sense. Mom said she’d unplug the computer and throw it into the gorge if I brought back one more bad grade, so I guess that Minecraft I saw last night will be the last I’ll see of it for a while.” One year later, he writes, “I can’t wait to see Minecraft: The Movie II: Quest for More Wood tomorrow! I’ve missed Minecraft so much ever since mom threw my computer into the gorge! Of course, I have a history test tomorrow, but I’ll be fine. I don’t need much sleep, and I’m really great at winging tests.”
Angelina keeps a journal. One day, she writes, “I’m so sad! Julie’s dad got a new job spying on the Amish, and now her dad has to move all the way to Ohio! I won’t see her at school or on soccer team anymore, and I can’t even text or call or email her, because if they catch her using modern technology, her dad’s cover will be blown and she might get shunned! Julie is my best friend, what will I do?” A month later, she writes, “Writing letters with Julie is great! It’s so fun keeping her up to date on the drama at school, and she’s been telling me all about the barn raisings she’s gone to! In some ways, it’s almost better than having her around, because it feels so special every time I get a letter from her.” Two years later, she writes, “Today has been the worst day of my life! This morning, mom said that we have to move to Florida, and I only have a week to say goodbye to all of my friends here at school! What will I do? I won’t know anyone there, and I’ll never get to see any of my old friends ever again!”
Amanda keeps a journal. One day, she writes, “I’m really lucky to have a family as good as mine. Dad always lets me play with his scuba gear, Mom has the best stories from her detective agency, and my brother Garrett makes the best fajitas in the world! Yesterday, the kids at the lunch table were talking about how they hoped they were long-lost princes and princesses who had real royal families looking for them. I told them all that I wouldn’t choose any other family in the world but my own.” A week later, she writes, “I just found out that I’m adopted! And my fake mom and dad weren’t even planning on telling me until I turned eighteen! They only told me because there’s a viral video of my real mom getting way too emotional when hugging a mascot at Disneyland going around, and if I saw it I might realize that I look just like her. Garrett knew, of course. They tell him everything, because he’s their real son. How can they even love me, if I’m not their real daughter? That’s a trick question, because they don’t.”
(Skip if time is short, it’s even more jokey than the rest)
Thomas keeps a journal. One day, he writes, “Looking through old boxes of Christmas ornaments in the attic, I found an ancient prophecy scroll about me. Apparently, on my tenth birthday a demon will appear in the form of an enormous bull-headed serpent and tempt me to open a magical door that appears in my wall. If I do, apparently I’ll be transported to a land of nightmares where I’ll suffer in eternal agony. Pretty cool what you find in the attic sometimes.” On his tenth birthday, he writes, “This has been the best birthday ever! All my friends and I went to Adventureland, then I came home and opened my presents. I got a ton of great Lego sets! And then, when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, a giant snake with the head of a bull appeared in my bedroom and told me that I’d live forever in bliss and happiness if I opened a new door in my wall. This is so great! I’m just taking a moment to write this before I turn the handle.”
- After the scenarios, make little journals by stapling together half-sheets of paper (I’ll bring them). If there’s time, color the front covers with their happiest memory.