Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Makes Us Who We Are

What Makes Us Who We Are?


While spending the day with my great-nephew, we visited Barnes and Noble.  I am always drawn to the children's picture books and since we were in that area of B&N, I naturally started looking for some new finds.  I found the most wonderful book by Paul Fleishman, The Matchbook Diary.  The book is illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, who illustrated The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane.  Fleishman's book is about immigration and remembrances.  His book certainly caused me to remember all those people and events throughout my life that have made me WHO I AM.......

There are several reasons why I really enjoyed this book.  First, it teaches us the importance of making changes in our lives when necessary.  As with many immigrant families, the great-grandfater came to America in hopes of making a better life.  It was hard to leave Italy, but his family knew it was for the best.  I cannot imagine having to uproot my entire family, moving to someplace so far away. It really causes me to be grateful for all the help I have and how my goals seems so much more attainable.
Along with the challenge of leaving Italy, the family struggled with work, the language, school, and prejudice in America.  It is truly inspiring to see how much they endured and how hard they worked.  I teach special education to many students who are the first or second generation in this country.  I hope that reading about how hard people work to succeed will inspire them to do the same with their education.  I hope they will remain determined and positive when faced with challenges.
The Matchbox Diary also makes me think of my own ancestors coming to America from Italy.  Although I know basic information about them, like when they arrived and where they lived in Italy, I know little else.  However, I am sure many of the sacrifices and challenges that the great-grandfather faced were similar to the ones my relatives had to face.  Even though I did not know them, I am so grateful that they settled here and started a new life for so many generations of our family.  The past has always fascinated me and a part of me is jealous when people can trace their lineage back for centuries.  Learning about our ancestors has been an ongoing process for my family and one that I am sure I will continue.

Here are some ideas for The Matchbox Diary!

The titles link to the websites.
The Paul Fleischman website offers the author's insights into the writing of this book.  Fleischman also offers a whimsical video showing his Matchbox Theaters.

Things to make and do - Matchbox Chest of DrawersThings to Make and Do has a tutorial to make a chest of drawers using matchboxes.  It is a great way to follow in the tradition of the great-grandfather and a way to hold onto keepsakes.

Deep Fried Olives RecipeMy husband and I actually had these in a little restaurant in Assisi on our honeymoon.  It was one of our favorite foods on the whole trip.  One of the first items the great-grandfather explains from his matchbox is the olive pit that reminds him of Italy.
Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oilMarinated Olives                                    Marinated olives have become synonymous with Italian dinners.  This recipe is a unique version that marinates the olives in orange and thyme-infused oil. is a great source to use to trace your roots.  You can purchase a membership.  However, there is some exploring that you can do for free.  There is also a 14-day free trial.  
If you are lucky enough to have your ancestors' pictures, you can make one of these creative family trees to keep on display.

Alphabet Kids has a great tutorial for creating family trees with children.

The Matchbox Diary  is written in dialogue.  It would be a great book to use when teaching dialogue. It is a great example of how characterization is developed through the use of dialogue.  Students can complete a characterization chart that encourages them to use inferencing skills to determine the traits using the dialogue in the story.  Education Oasis has a number of characterization charts.
Crafty Chic Mommy has a tutorial for a fun and modern way to display sentimental items.  There are so many ways these items can be displayed and decorated.

 Matchbox Item
After reading The Matchbox Diary, each student can be directed to place one item in a matchbox that represents something meaningful to the student.  Students could either write about the item and its meaning or offer a presentation about the item.

 "What is it?"
"An olive pit.  I put it in my palm, and I am right back in Italy."
Paul Fleischman, The Matchbox Diary

How do you remember what makes you who you are?  
What special way do you keep your remembrances? 

 Leave us a comment....We would love to hear from you 

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  1. Thank you so much for linking this recipe to the Tasty Tuesdays link party! I’ve pinned this recipe to my Tasty Tuesday’s board. :) This week’s party is live on the blog & I would love for you to come link up with us! Here’s the link:

  2. Hello Karen,
    This is a very interesting post and family history is always inspiring. The salad and olives both look delicious. I can't seem to find your teacup. I think perhaps your post is more suited to my HOME party which is up today if you would like to link up there. Thanks so much for linking up with me.