…an after reading activity by Cheryl Sigmon with additions from Marti Plumtree

What are Souvenirs?

This is another tangible, concrete way to involve students in their learning and to provide a much-needed school-to-home connection.

Souvenirs are concrete memories that children can use to retell and share something they have read or that has been read to them. Teachers must think of what little "souvenir" of a story would help the children remember what has been read. Some examples follow:




Rainbow Fish


a circle of foil to look like a shiny fish scale

Dog Breath


a die cut in the shape of a dog

Butterfly Alphabet Book


colorful tissue shaped into a butterfly

How a Seed Grows


a seed

Abraham Lincoln


cut-out of a stove top hat

Out of the Ocean


a small shell

It's Disgusting and We Ate It


a bug sticker

For more souvenir ideas for stories see Cheryl Sigmon’s Article 34.

The idea is that you find any little inexpensive object that is related to the story--a scrap of cloth, a sticker, a shape, a shell, a seed, a blade of grass. Keep it simple so that you'll be encouraged to do this on a regular basis. This could be done weekly or monthly.

Prepare a letter to inform your students' parents of what Souvenirs are all about. Here's a sample letter to include in your bag that was designed by Marti Plumtree:

Souvenir Form

My Souvenir Bit Collection Bag

For each child, you'll need one decorative handle bag, or a simple brown lunch bag. Glue or staple the My Souvenir Bit Collection Bag to the front of the child’s bag and have them write their name on the bag. Print out the label My Souvenir Bit Collection Bag.

Fitting this into the 4-Blocks Model might be accomplished by planning to include this on a designated day as a part of the SSR Block. Perhaps, each Wednesday you'll read aloud a story as you normally do to open the block. Following this--just as you always do, the students will read and you'll have your conferences with some students. Then, to conclude the block, the sharing time might include passing out the Souvenir bags with a reminder to be sure that they remember to share that night with someone at home. You might ask a couple of students, "What will you share with your parents tonight?" so that all students will have some modeling of what's expected.

This activity could also be included in the Guided Reading Block. Students could predict what the souvenir might be for this story and why. Teachers would then pass out the Souvenir bags to talk about the Guided reading story with parents at home that night. After reading the teacher would be modeling: “What will you tell your parents about the story that we read today?”

Now, what is being accomplished with this activity? Several things-- for one, retelling a story is a skill we want our students to develop--paraphrasing the plot, putting the events in the correct sequence, and remembering the characters or the facts. Another benefit is making that home-to-school connection and encouraging special moments between children and their parents. ……adapted from an article by Cheryl Sigmon