Frame a Special Item Show and Tell Activity | Facing History & Ourselves
A person holding a rectangular white photo frame near a body of water.

Frame a Special Item

Students identify an object that holds special meaning and learn about each other by sharing the stories of these special items.


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At a Glance

activity copy


English — US


  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies


  • Culture & Identity
  • Equity & Inclusion


About This Activity

Students watch a video in which author and poet Jason Reynolds shares the stories behind special objects and personal items that represent important parts of his identity and family story. Then they reflect on their own special item and share its story with the class in a community-building discussion.

Preparing to Teach

A Note to Teachers

Before teaching this activity, please review the following information to help guide your preparation process.

This activity uses a short video from Jason Reynolds’s video series Write. Right. Rite.  Reynolds is an author, poet, and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. In his video series, produced in conjunction with the Library of Congress, Reynolds shares his passion for storytelling and provides inspiration for young people to write. Speaking directly to youth in each short video, Reynolds shares a writing prompt, which he contextualizes with personal vignettes and guiding questions.

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Steps for Implementation

  1. Introduce Jason Reynolds. Start by asking students if they have read any books or poetry by Jason Reynolds. Then tell them that they will be watching a short video in which Reynolds discusses some special items that he has framed and has hanging in his home. 
  2. Play the video Frame a Special Item (02:18). Discuss the following questions about the video: 
    • What did you learn about Jason Reynolds that you didn’t know before? 
    • What kinds of objects does he have framed in his home? 
    • How is framing an object different from saving it in a scrapbook, album, box, or drawer? 
    • What connection does Jason Reynolds make between framing a special item and storytelling?
  1. Reflect in writing. Now it’s time for students to write. Let them respond to the questions Reynolds poses to them at the end of the video. Provide each student with a copy of the handout My Very Special Item and explain that they will answer the three questions in Part 1: Gather Ideas. Model the activity by sharing your own responses to the three questions, or write with your students and share first in the class debrief. 
    • What would you frame? 
    • Where would you hang it? 
    • Why would you frame this particular thing? 
  2. Share special items. Debrief by asking everyone to share the item they would frame and where they would hang it. See if any students want to tell the story of their item to the group. Alternatively, students could share in small groups. If you would like your students to do this activity’s extension, provide instructions for getting started, which are explained below.

Extension Activities

Students tell a story about the item they chose to frame. Their story should help convey the significance of the item.

While you should create an assignment handout for your students, consider having them describe the item in detail and then list the stories they associate with it. Jason Reynolds names a pair of sneakers as an example. A story could be a memory of the first time lacing them up, or a significant win or loss while wearing them.

Finally, students choose one of the stories to tell in a short piece of writing that they draft in Part 2 of the My Very Special Item handout.

Creative Story-Sharing Ideas

  • Include a photograph of the special item with their submission.
  • Draw the special item inside of a frame and then handwrite or type the story. 
  • Use a video tool, such as Flipgrid or Screencastify, to create a short video, similar to Reynolds’s “Frame a Special Item.” Outline the story in writing and then record it on video, perhaps showing the special item if it is available. 
  • Imagine the item is framed and hanging in a museum. Title the special item and then write the description that would appear alongside it.

Materials and Downloads

Resources from Other Organizations

We recommend the following resource for use in this activity.
Frame a Special Item
Write. Right. Rite.

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