Traveling Back in Time

K, 1, 2

This lesson raises students’ awareness of memories and the importance of memories to the people of all ages that make up a community. Students will learn the definition of philanthropy and identify an act of philanthropy in the literature book Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • listen to a story in a group setting.
  • brainstorm ideas about the five definitions of memory from the book.
  • orally share one or more personal items that pertain to a memory from the five topics in the book.
  • define philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good.
  • A read-aloud copy of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (see Bibliographical References)
  • A well-worn toy to promote a discussion about memories
  • A box large enough to hide the teddy bear or toy—decorated, if desired
  • Student copies to send home of Handout One: Recalling Memories
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: Students look for memories in their own homes. They take home Handout One: Recalling Memories. Working with their families, the students find a special item from home to bring to school.The item brings up a memory that fits one of the defenitions of memory from the book.

  • Fox, Mem. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. New York: Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 1985. ISBN: 0916291049


  1. Anticipatory Set:Before reading the literature book, present a mystery memory box with a well-worn toy from the teacher’s past, such as a teddy bear, doll or book inside, to the class and ask them what could be inside. Listen while students give possible answers. Then give the clues, “It is something that makes me feel warm inside.” “It is something I had when I was your age.” If students still don’t guess the item, the teacher may give more clues. Show the item, making the points: It is from long ago. It was precious to me. It makes me feel warm inside when I hug it or read it. Ask the children if they think you should have kept the item even though it is used, or thrown it away. Ask the children to name some precious things they have saved and the good memories associated with them. This activity helps students think in terms of what attributes might be related to a memory, and why memories are important.

  2. Read Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox, aloud to the whole group.

  3. Ask the students to recall while you write down the five definitions of a memory that assisted in helping find Miss Nancy’s memory (something warm, something from long ago, something that makes you cry, something that makes you laugh and something as precious as gold).

  4. Have a discussion about the importance of memories to people of all ages. How did the people in the book feel about memories? How do the students feel about memories? How are memories important to people in our community? What types of things do people like to remember and why? What would life be like if we didn’t remember things?

  5. Define philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good. Ask the students to think about what Wilfrid shared. What common good was served? Ask students to think about ways they can be philanthropic in their own community in ways that are similar to Wilfrid’s act. (If we ask people who are of an older generation to share their memories with us, we would learn about their values and traditions, show respect for our elders and become more connected to our community.)

  6. Give students a homework assignment. They must find one item at home that fits one of the definitions of memory (from the book). They will bring the item to school to share with the class. See Handout One: Recalling Memories.

  7. Each succeeding day, three-five students present to the class the items from home.


The teacher will assess the students in two parts. First, the teacher will check off that the student brought an item to school and orally shared with the group a personal memory. Secondly, after each student shares, the teacher will ask one or two students in the listening audience to tell why the item sparks a memory for the sharer. Teacher makes anecdotal records of listening skills for students.

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.