If you are joining in on our Summer Read-Along, you may have read that Abilene discovers something hidden away under the floorboards in her room the first night she spends at Shady’s house.
When she pulls out “the something,” she finds that it is a cigar box containing “papers and odds and ends.” She discovers letters, a map, a cork, a fishhook, a silver dollar, a skeleton key, and a wooden doll:
“To me they were like treasures from a museum, things a person could study to learn about another time and the people who lived back then.”
These “artifacts” become the framework for Miss Sadie’s stories about 1918 Manifest, and Abilene finds herself seeking to uncover the mysteries of the past.
Something to do
Our local cigar shop sells cigar boxes for a dollar–I’ve also gotten some at thrift stores. If you cannot locate a cigar box, try using a shoebox or other empty box and even decorate it to look like Abilene’s Lucky Bill cigar box. Find some small trinkets such as Abilene’s. Items could include a bottle cap, a spool of thread, a gumball machine prize, dice, a game piece, a safety pin, a paperclip, or a small magnifying glass. Place several items in the box for your kids to “discover” as they write (or tell) their stories.
As Miss Sadie shares her stories with Abilene, Abilene begins to feel a connection to the people of Manifest. Objects can connect us with the past, especially if we know the stories behind them. I remember looking at trinkets in my Grandfather’s drawer with him as he explained what each little thing meant to him. A teeny-tiny telescope with the entire Lord’s Prayer written inside it, a miniature violin with strings, a pocket watch, a boy scout knife–all of these things had a story behind them which I would have had to guess if he had not shared them with me. Shows such as American Pickers are so fun to watch because you find out the history behind the items they showcase.
Encourage your kids to imagine who may have placed these items in the box for safekeeping and why each item is significant. Have them come up with a story for each item and tell it or write it, either independently or round-robin style. Ask them to be creative and use lots of descriptive words in their stories. If you have a child too young to write his story, act as his “secretary” and either type or write as he dictates it to you (and don’t edit!) Kids may also enjoy illustrating their stories. These can be as long or as short as you’d like, and each item can inspire an independent story, or they can all fit together as Miss Sadie’s stories do.
Most importantly, have fun!
If you have any mementos in your own keepsake box, you may want to pull them out and have “show and tell” with your kids. Take the time to tell your kids your stories.