I was in the library looking for another Eve Bunting book and came across this one. I sat right down on the floor and read it. Then I had an idea. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I thought of all the buttons I had collected in a box in my closet. What did I need them all for?
One of my goals for my teaching this year is to bring in more picture books. I am reading one each week. In The Memory String, the character Laura has a string full of buttons. Her mother died three years before, and her stepmother is trying to win Laura’s heart. Laura’s memory string is her way of holding on to the memory of her mother.
I brought my cigar box of buttons into class and after reading the story, the students each selected 3-5 buttons. I told them they would be writing a memory for each button. We sewed the buttons on a string, and the students began writing. This was a great form to prompt writing.
Here are some student samples:
The fourth button is a blueish greenish color. It reminds me of the first time I swam in the ocean. It was 2011 and I was 7 years old. I was still living in Minnesota, and I had never even gone near the ocean. We were going on a road trip to Florida. The first time I swam in the ocean was in the Atlantic Ocean. It was a pretty beach with water that looked clear and bright. I loved it, but I never got to swim at a beach like that again. (Vannisa)
This is the story of the button that is gold and black. This button reminds me of my brother. This button reminds me of him because when we all brought him home from the hospital, it was cold and he was wearing a jacket that had a button that looked like this button. This button also reminds me of myself because that was the same jacket that I wore when I was brought home from the hospital. That was the story of the button that is gold and black. (Lani)
One button is absolutely clear, and its very small. It reminds me of how I feel when my dad is gone, and when he is usually gone for months. One time, he didn’t come back for half a year. I missed him very much, but when he came back, I was happy to see him.(Tobie)
Any one of these button memories could be a longer personal narrative (or Slice of Life) story. I hear the lament often, “I don’t know what to write about.” A picture book story and a box of buttons can open up a string of memories.