Salem Students Create Discovery Boxes for Children’s Lit Class
Visit the library on the Kent State Salem Campus and you will find an interesting display of “Discovery Boxes,” each created by a student of Dr. Lance Rivers as a final semester project for his children’s literature class.
Considering the characters from the books read in the class over the semester, each student was to select a character and create a box that the character might use for keepsakes.
Rivers, assistant professor of English, explained that part of the requirement for each box was that it contain original materials (usually in the form of notes, diaries or letters) that would have been written by the character in question.
“I like this assignment because it requires students to do a character analysis – at least informally – and gives them a creative outlet for sharing the results of that analysis in a way that requires more abstraction than an essay would,” he noted. “Students are, therefore, required to think more deeply about the literature they’re responding to because they must be able to defend the inclusion of any given object in the Discovery Box.
“In other words, instead of saying ‘So-and-so shows characteristics of having abandonment issues,’ they have to think about how those issues might be manifested in reality and be able to justify their choices,” Rivers continued. “I could go on and on about what students learn by completing this assignment. It’s an extremely rich exercise in interpretation and analysis. It’s also a nice break from all of the writing students have to do for the class. Besides, they’re awfully fun to grade.”
Rivers said that he got the idea for this assignment from role-playing games that are frequently built and sold by gamers.
“Students met or exceeded my expectations,” he added. “Several, such as Snape’s box and one of the Templeton boxes (the one with, what I am calling, ‘Rodent pin-ups’ on the wall) knocked the ball out of the park.”
The Discovery Boxes will be displayed over the next few weeks in the library.