Steal This Idea

STEAL THIS IDEA: People, Places, Times and Things

August 20, 2014

Last Updated on by Jane Higgins

In their notebooks, students should make four headings:  People, Places, Times and Things.  Students are then asked to list four childhood memories that relate to each of these headings. Here are some suggestions to get kids going: A person who/whose: I hated; death made me the saddest; I respected very much as a child; taught me something important; my feelings changed about. A place where:  I had to fight for the right to be there; I was hurt (emotionally or physically); I felt like I did some growing up; I liked to watch what people did. Something that I: did to cause a terrible accident; had a fight about; was angry about; don’t like to remember. A time when: I had to learn to stand up for myself; I did something that made me look smart and my parents look stupid; my mom or dad wanted to kill me; I was scared to death. These childhood memories can drawn upon for future writing activities and can be particularly useful for generating ideas for memoir writing that the student may not have thought of on their own.  The list can also be expanded upon to add other memories at a later time. This activity can be used to tie in to a read aloud or a class text.  Find people/places/things/times that relate to the moments in or thematic content of a text and have students write to these memories before reading to activate prior knowledge and personal connections.

Steal This Idea is a roundup of submissions from NYCWP-affiliated teachers; in this space you will have access to the ideas and innovations of a wide range of classroom teachers of all grades and content areas.  The title says it all: if you like an idea you find here, bring it to your own classroom and make it your own! Steal This Idea started as a component of the NYCWP newsletter and has become an NYCWP tradition.  However, this tradition relies on you to help!  We need you to send us ideas that you would like the community to have the opportunity to steal.

  • Have you done something in your classroom recently that went really well?
  • Do you have a great idea for a lesson, unit or essential question?
  • What’s a foolproof activity that everyone should have in their tool kit?
  • What is your favorite thing that you do in your classroom?

Send us your ideas at with the subject line “Steal This Idea” and you may see yourself featured in this section!