Are you looking for an engaging book to read with your students this coming school year? If so, The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman is an excellent choice.
This highly acclaimed children’s story follows a young girl’s journey as she discovers her family legacy through small wooden boxes full of trinkets and lost accounts.
It is incredibly engaging, and The Matchbox Diary offers teachers numerous opportunities to incorporate meaningful literacy lessons into their daily reading instruction.
In this article, I’ll provide all the information necessary for planning activities based on The Matchbox Diary – from language arts ideas to assemblies and performances!
Related: For more, check out our planning overview on The Nowhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie here.
The Teaching Couple Resources:
The link is for a 4-week writing unit based on the book “The Matchbox Diary” by Paul Fleischman. The team includes various writing activities and exercises suitable for KS2 students. It aims to develop their creative writing skills, vocabulary, and comprehension abilities.
The page also provides a summary of the book’s plot and themes. Overall, it’s a valuable resource for teachers looking to incorporate this book into their lesson plans.
The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman tells the story of a young girl who visits her great-grandfather’s house and discovers a collection of matchboxes.
Each matchbox contains a small object that holds a special memory or story from her great-grandfather’s life as an Italian immigrant in America.
As the girl listens to her great-grandfather’s stories, she learns about his journey to America, his struggles and successes, and the importance of family and memories. The girl gains a deeper understanding of her family history and heritage through these stories and objects.
The Matchbox Diary is a heartwarming tale that celebrates the power of storytelling and the value of preserving memories.
- Family history: The Matchbox Diary is all about family history. The great-grandfather collects matchboxes and objects throughout his life to preserve memories, and he shares these with his great-granddaughter so that she can learn about her family’s past.
- Immigration: The great-grandfather in the story emigrates from Italy to America and faces many challenges as he tries to build a new life for himself. His experiences shed light on the struggles faced by immigrants in general.
- Memory: The collection of matchboxes and objects serves to preserve memories. Each item tells a story, creating a rich tapestry of family history.
- Storytelling: Throughout the book, both the great-grandfather and the great-granddaughter engage in storytelling. They share memories, ask questions, and learn from each other.
- Cultural identity: The great-grandfather’s experiences as an Italian immigrant highlight themes of cultural identity. He must navigate life in a new country while preserving his culture and traditions.
- Resilience: The great-grandfather faces many challenges as an immigrant but perseveres through hard work and determination. His story is one of resilience in the face of adversity.
- Perseverance: Similarly, the act of collecting matchboxes shows persistence over time. It takes dedication to collect so many items over such an extended period, and this dedication pays off in the form of a rich family history.
- Personal histories: By collecting matchboxes and sharing stories, the great-grandfather creates a unique history that can be passed down through generations. This theme underscores the importance of recording our histories for future generations.
- Family connections: Finally, at its heart, The Matchbox Diary is all about family connections. Through storytelling and memory preservation, family members can connect across generations and learn from each other’s experiences.
- The great-grandfather: He is the central character of the story and the one who collects matchboxes and objects throughout his life to preserve memories. His immigrant experiences and dedication to keeping his family history drive the narrative forward.
- The great-granddaughter: She is the other main character in the story, and through her eyes, we see the great-grandfather’s collection of matchboxes and objects. Her curiosity about her family history drives her to ask questions and learn more about her great-grandfather’s past.
- The great-grandmother: Although she never appears in person in the story, she is mentioned several times as someone who also collects objects over time. Her collection serves as a counterpoint to the great-grandfathers, highlighting different ways people can preserve memories.
The Great-Grandfather’s Influence
The great-grandfather is the central figure of The Matchbox Diary, and his influence on the story is felt in several ways. Here are a few examples:
- He drives the narrative forward: The great-grandfather’s collection of matchboxes and objects serves as the story’s backbone. His dedication to preserving memories and family history through these items draws the great-granddaughter in and keeps her engaged.
- He represents an immigrant experience: The great-grandfather’s experiences as an Italian immigrant to America are vital to the story. Through his struggles to build a new life for himself, we see firsthand some of the challenges immigrants face.
- He embodies themes of cultural identity: As an immigrant, the great-grandfather must navigate life in a new country while preserving his own culture and traditions. This theme of cultural identity runs throughout the book and is embodied by the great-grandfather’s experiences.
- He teaches lessons about resilience and perseverance: The great-grandfather’s determination to succeed despite obstacles is a lesson in strength and endurance for his great-granddaughter and readers of all ages.
The Matchbox Diary is a rich text that provides ample opportunities for teachers to use it to teach various writing skills and grammar concepts. Here are some examples:
- Descriptive writing: The Matchbox Diary is full of descriptive language, which makes it an excellent text for teaching students how to write descriptively. Teachers can ask students to identify the adjectives used in the book and discuss how they help create vivid imagery.
- Fronted adverbials: They are used throughout The Matchbox Diary, making it an excellent resource for teaching this grammar concept. Teachers can ask students to identify these phrases and discuss how they add detail and complexity to sentences.
- Dialogue punctuation: The book includes several instances of dialogue, which makes it a valuable tool for teaching proper dialogue punctuation. Teachers can ask students to identify where quotation marks are used and why.
- Spelling and vocabulary: The Matchbox Diary includes several challenging words that could be used to teach spelling and vocabulary skills. Teachers can ask students to look up unfamiliar words in the dictionary and use them in their writing.
- Writing devices: The book uses several literary devices, including metaphor, simile, personification, and imagery. Teachers can use these examples as a starting point for discussing these devices with their students.
Lesson Plan 1: Descriptive Writing
Objective: Students can identify and use descriptive language in their writing.
- Copies of The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman
- Whiteboard or chart paper
- Worksheets for practising descriptive writing
Introduction (10 minutes):
- Begin by asking students if they have ever read a book that made them feel like they were there. Discuss how good descriptive writing can make readers feel part of the story.
- Introduce The Matchbox Diary as a book that uses descriptive language to create vivid imagery in the reader’s mind.
- Explain that we will be reading this book to learn about descriptive writing.
Reading and Identifying Adjectives (15 minutes):
- Read aloud a section from The Matchbox Diary that contains descriptive language.
- Ask students to identify adjectives in the passage and write them on the board or chart paper.
- Discuss how these adjectives help create vivid imagery in the reader’s mind.
Writing with Adjectives (15 minutes):
- Provide students with a worksheet with an activity where they must write descriptive sentences using adjectives.
- Please encourage students to use their imagination and come up with creative descriptions.
Sharing Descriptive Sentences (15 minutes):
- Ask students to share their sentences with the class or in small groups.
- Encourage peer feedback on what worked well and what could be improved in their descriptions.
Summarise what was learned during class today by reviewing how descriptive words can make writing more exciting and engaging for readers.
Lesson Plan 2: Fronted Adverbials
Objective: Students can identify and use fronted adverbials correctly in their writing.
- Copies of The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman
- Whiteboard or chart paper
- Worksheets for practising fronted adverbials
Introduction (10 minutes):
- Begin by discussing how adding detail can make writing more exciting and engaging.
- Introduce fronted adverbials to add an element at the beginning of sentences.
Reading and Identifying Fronted Adverbials (15 minutes):
- Read aloud a section from The Matchbox Diary that contains fronted adverbials.
- Ask students to identify these phrases and discuss how they add detail and complexity to sentences.
Using Fronted Adverbials Correctly (15 minutes):
- Provide students with a worksheet to practice correctly identifying and using fronted adverbials.
- Encourage creativity while using such phrases.
Peer Feedback(10 minutes)
Ask students to exchange papers/worksheets -Encourage peer review of each other’s work, which helps improve self-editing and critical thinking skills.
Summarise what was learned during class today by reviewing how fronted adverbials can add detail at the beginning of sentences.
Lesson Plan 3: Dialogue Punctuation
Objective: Students will be able to punctuate dialogue correctly.
Materials: -Copies of The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman -Whiteboard or chart paper -Markers -Paper strips containing dialogues without punctuation marks.
Begin by discussing why it is essential for dialogue to be punctuated correctly. -Provide examples of poorly punctuated dialogues
Reading Dialogues Aloud(10 Minutes)
Have students read aloud one page from “The Matchbook Diary”, which contains multiple instances of dialogue.
Identify Quotation Marks(20 Minutes)
Distribute paper strips containing dialogues without quotation marks among all students -Instruct them individually to try putting quotation marks wherever necessary.
Quiz Time! (20 Minutes)
Provide another worksheet containing several dialogues with missing quotation marks -Give points based on the accuracy.
Summarise what was learned during class today by reviewing why it is essential for dialogue punctuation, and provide some tips on remembering when you need quotation marks while quoting someone else’s words.
Lesson Plan 4: Spelling/Vocabulary
Objective: Students will improve spelling/vocabulary skills by building new vocabulary words
Materials – Copies of “The Matchbook Diary” -Synonym/Antonym worksheets,
-Discuss new words learnt from “The matchbook diary” -Provide definitions, usage examples etc
Building Vocabulary Words(20 Minutes)
-Provide synonym/antonym worksheets -Help children understand word roots/prefixes/suffixes etc
Game Time! (20 Minutes)
-Conduct vocabulary games like a cross