What's So Special?

this lesson was adapted from 6+! Traits of Writing for the Primary Grades by Ruth Culham

Sometimes we forget that our most powerful ideas come from our everyday lives!
Dr. Samuel Johnson stated, "The most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new".
This lesson is based on Mem Fox's Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge where a young child meets an elderly woman Miss Nancy who is loosing her memory. He shares special objects that are important to him and she begins to recall her own precious memories.


  • A copy of the book Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge
  • A basket or other container with at least 6 treasured items from your life
  • One treasured object that each student brings from home
  • Writing paper and pencils or pens
  • Letter to Parents Parent Letter for Wilfred


  1. Gather a collection of treasures from home, put them in a basket, bring them to school.
  2. Sit the children in a circle and share your objects. Take a minute or two to explain why each one is a treasure. Encourage students to tell you about the things they have tucked away that are special to them. Remind them that some of our most important items might not be very valuable to connect with important memories. Tell students that the ideas behind why an object is important can make a good story for writers workshop.
  3. Ask students to bring a treasured object of their own to school. Send a note to parents with guidelines for helping kids choose.
  4. Read Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge to the class, pausing to show the pictures. After reading, have a discussion with students about Wifred's treasures and why they are important to them.
  5. Ask students to take out object that they brought in. Those who forgot an object can draw a picture of something they value.
  6. Put students in small groups and let them share their objects and reasons for selecting them. Remind children to take turns and listen carefully to others' ideas.
  7. Ask students to return to their seats and give them paper. Tell them to write about their object and why it is important to them. Students who are not yet writing letters can draw their object. As they write, encourage students to talk to each other. If you need to help students by transcribing, then do that as you are circulating.
  8. When students are done, hang their objects in a display area. Stories can be compiled into a class book for students to read when you take down the display.