What If…

Language Arts

In this creative writing assignment, students imagine changing one aspect of their lives and how things might have been different.

What You Need

What to Do

  1. Pass a few kaleidoscopes around the classroom. Ask each student to find a favorite pattern and then shift the kaleidoscope slightly. Ask the students to discuss how much of an impact a slight change can make.
  2. Ask the students to gather around the dishpan of water. Drop a small object into the water. Ask students to describe the ripple effect, where one small movement generates continued changes in the water's surface.
  3. Explain that our personal identities have some similarities to the kaleidoscopes and ripples. Some of the circumstances of our lives are simply the result of “the luck of the draw,” and one small shift in these circumstances, perhaps, could have a rippling effect on who we end up becoming. Ask students to brainstorm a list of possible circumstances that could have an impact on their identities. This list may include the following examples:
    • gender
    • birth order
    • single vs. multiple births
    • geographical location
    • historical period or generation
  4. Ask students to choose one circumstance that has had an impact on their identities and then describe how they would alter it. Have them list five to ten ways that their lives would be different with the change. Ask them to look at both advantages and disadvantages.
  5. Tell students that they will be writing three to five paragraph narratives describing how their identities would be different, given the changes caused by the different circumstances. Drafts should be reviewed for content and mechanics. Final drafts may be published to share with a partner, small group, or class.

Teaching Options