Spanish Version

Bits and Pieces

Social Studies/Language Arts Activity

In this activity, students will use a collection of objects as the basis for writing a tale about the people who used them.


  • A collection of small objects, such as a small toy, a key, or a paintbrush (at least three for each student)
  • Blank story map for each student (print and copy)


  1. Review some stories that everyone in the class has read and discuss key objects in the stories. How were they used? Who owned them? Were they special in some way? Were they new or old? How were they important to the story? For example, you might discuss how straw, sticks, and bricks were used in the tale of the Three Little Pigs.

  2. Have each student bring in three to five small objects from home that they can keep in school for a while. The objects can be unique or common every day things from around the house.

  3. Then place all the objects on a table and let students choose three objects that they think they can work into a tale. If you want to make it more challenging, have children try to choose three unrelated objects. (You may want to offer students the option of keeping their selections a secret.)

  4. Distribute copies of the story map and have children complete it. Remind them that the objects must play a key role in the tale, such as being something that a father handed down to his daughter, and not just be mentioned in passing. Encourage them to write about the objects in imaginative ways.

  5. When they have finished writing, have children read the tales aloud to the class. You might have the other students try to guess which objects in each tale were the three specially selected objects.


  • You may want your students to pretend to be archeologists. Bring in five random and unfamiliar (to students) objects. Bury them in the sand of a sand table and have volunteers unearth them. Then have students work in groups to write a tale about the people who used them.
  • You may want to collect several books with tales that students can read and use as models for their own tales.
  • Some children may find it easier to choose a familiar tale and retell it orally, substituting new objects for the ones in the original story.

You may download, print and make copies of this page for use in your classroom, provided that you include the copyright notice shown below on all such copies.

Copyright © 1998 Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.