What Do You Carry?

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Things They Carried


What Do You Carry? for The Things They Carried

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Activity Overview


The first chapters of the novel detail the different things - physical, emotional, mental - that the soldiers carry with them throughout their journeys in Vietnam. They carry weapons, supplies, mementos, hopes, dreams, regrets, and guilt. To have students connect with this idea further, have them complete the following assignment and utilize the Storyboard Creator to illustrate their ideas.

  1. Have students write about an object that they keep because it is special to them. It could be a war medal from a grandfather, a T-shirt from a baseball game with their dad, a friendship bracelet, a family heirloom, etc. Have them describe the object, and detail why it is so important to them.

  2. Then, have students write about two items that are important for them to get through a day at school. This could be their backpack, their phone, their planners, etc. Have students discuss why these two items are so necessary to a successful school day.

  3. Finally, have students write about two memories that are important to them. Have them also describe the emotions associated with that memory.

  4. When students are done with all of the above, have them create a storyboard to illustrate their writing.

Something I Keep

I keep a doll that my grandmother gave to me when I was six. She passed away last year, and I miss her a lot. I’ve carried this doll with me everywhere: on vacations, to the hospital when I had to have my appendix removed, and to my Nana’s funeral.

School Item #1

The first thing that I need in order to get through the school day is my phone. I use it for my watch because it’s digital and easier to read the time quickly. I also use it to keep in touch with my friends during the day and my parents. I like to take pictures of my friends during lunch, too.

School Item #2

The second thing that I need in order to get through the school day is my backpack. I don’t have as many textbooks anymore since we switched to textbooks online, but I still have folders, papers, pens, pencils, and sometimes paperback books to carry around. Without my backpack, I would be so disorganized and leave stuff all over the school.

Memory #1

One memory that is really important to me is when I was 8, my best friend Hannah moved into the house next door. She came over to my yard and said hello, and I knew instantly that we would get along. I like to remember this because it makes me happy, and I remember the moment vividly.

Memory #2

Another memory that stands out to me is when I ruined my mom’s new dress that she had just bought for my dad’s policeman’s ball. I blamed it on my little brother, who was two and I knew wouldn’t get into too much trouble. I still feel guilty about doing that because I should have just told the truth instead.


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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

  1. Depict and write about an object that you keep because it is special to you.
  2. Describe the object, and detail why it is so important to you.

  3. Then, depict and write about two items that are important for you to get through a day at school.
  4. Describe why these two items are so necessary to a successful school day.

  5. Write about two memories that are important to you and describe the emotions associated with that memory.


What Do You Carry Template

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