In addition to writing Literature Units, like Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park, I will also be focusing on a specific project each month. These projects can easily be done with almost any novel. Projects like the Character Suitcase, which we are talking about today, will only enhance your students’ or childs’ understanding of the novel and allow them to show their understanding in a creative way.
Character suitcases are an awesome project that you can do with just about any literature book or novel of that you are reading. With this project, students have to really think about the character or characters in the novel. They have to think about the theme, the meaning behind what’s happening, and the events that the characters are going through. Students have to have a complete understanding of the plot as well.
This is really an all-encompassing project that will not only test your students’ comprehension, but will allow them to think critically and be creative.
To create a character suitcase, the student must choose a character or a group of characters that will be represented throughout the project.
Now there are several ways to complete this project from this point.
Have students choose 3-5 or more objects that the character(s) would take with them if they were going away. What is most memorable to the character(s) that they would want to have with them at all times? They must choose objects that are important to the characters. Objects that would help them remember their family, friends, home, good memories, etc.
Have students choose 5 or more objects that represent the character(s) in the novel. Students have to think about the characters, their personalities, likes, dislikes, conflicts in the story, etc.
I think that Option B helps students to dive a little deeper into the novel. They have to think critically and outside the box to come up with these objects.
With either option, allow students to get creative! This is a chance for students to really show that they understand what they have read and understand the characters in the novel. They will be able to show you this through the objects that they choose.
What’s even better is if you take it one step further and have students give descriptions of what they chose to put in the character suitcase and why they chose it. Have them explain: why would that character want to take that with them, why is that important to them, and why they chose that specific object. Having your student explain the “why” really helps you see their understanding and thought process.
Another bonus, they can create the suitcase and the objects that they choose to put in it. Character suitcases can be created with a shoebox, play dough, objects from around the house, pictures cut from a newspaper.
Example: Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park
- Camera: The camera represents Maggie’s interests, her best friend, and her hopes and dreasm for her future.
- Baseball Glove: The glove represents baseball and how baseball ties the community that Maggie lives in together. Baseball also impacts her relationship with the guys at the station and her friendships with others. She spends a lot of time learning to score a baseball game. In the end, Maggie is able to use a baseball game to bring friends together from all over the world.
- Radio: The radio represents the open community that Maggie lived in. The fact that she can walk from the firehouse to her own home without ever missing a minute of the game is astonishing. The radio helps us understand the time periodas well as the types of hobbies that were common in her neighborhood.
- Fire Hydrant: This represents the firefighters who are like family to Maggie and the firehouse which is like a second home. She spends a lot of time listening to baseball games and hanging out at the firehouse.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this project. Did your child or student enjoy it? How did you implement it? What did you and your child enjoy most?