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A Suggestion for Units on Writing Narratives/Memoirs
Teaching students to write about their own memories? Here's a mentor text suggestion:

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Here's a thoughtful idea from a fellow teacher:

Memoirs about Moving Away

This review/activity was generously shared with us by Nevada teacher
Lou Ann McCarthy
during an
NNWP-sponsored inservice class

on narrative and memoir.

There are many marvelous "mentor texts" that can be used when teaching a unit on narrative or memoir. The review of the book, Leaving Home with a Pickle Jar by Barbara Dugan, and the activity on this page were written by a Nevada teacher during an in-service class for teachers sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project.

Are you a fan of WritingFix? Use this link to purchase Leaving Home With a Pickle Jar from and WritingFix will receive a small donation to help us continue posting free-to-use resources.

Washoe County teachers, click here to search for this title at the county library.

A Review of this Book & an Activity Suggestion:

In her book, Leaving Home with a Pickle Jar, author Barbara Dugan relives the story of moving from one state to another through the life of Ernest P. and his sister, Ella Jean. They take with them their most prized possessions; Ernest’s being his pet grasshopper, Albert, in a pickle jar. The story weaves along the road trip to Minnesota with their mother, and includes all of the emotions of moving far away, and the uncertainty of their new home. Ernest believes he feels the same emotions as his pet grasshopper, and eventually sets Albert free by accident. The story is wonderfully written, uses lots of expressive dialogue, shows and expresses the children’s fears, sadness and excitement, as the family drives from state to state. Ernest P. eventually realizes that Albert will be much better living in the open, rather than in his pickle jar.

After reading this book to my students, I ask them to come up with a time they had to move and what they took with them as their most prized possession. As a group we will brainstorm to see what they might use as a prized possession. They are then to write their own story describing how they felt when they moved, how they felt when they had to leave other possessions behind, and what were their emotions on the actual trip to their new home. I share with them the major move I made from Fair Oaks, California, to Lake Hills Estates, California, when I was eleven, leaving all of my childhood friends, and our beautiful house with the tree fort. This allows my students to connect with both the book and my experiences to be able to write their own memoirs of moving. We then share these stories amongst the class.

Looking for complete writing lessons based on picture books? Have you seen WritingFix's Picture Books as Mentor Texts Collection?

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