Snapshots: The Decades
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The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien Sample Lesson Plan

This is a pre-reading activity for introducing the book The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien. It is a collection of stories about American soldiers in Vietnam. The title refers to the physical things the soldiers carried into battle, but also the emotional baggage they carried throughout the war and after they returned home.

Language Arts
Grade 10

Writing Applications, Benchmark A
6. Produce informal writings (e.g., journals, notes and poems) for various purposes.



  1. Have students empty their pockets and place the items on their desks.

  2. Direct them to write about what they “carry.” Encourage them to write about the hidden baggage they carry with them also.

  3. Have students then move about the room to several stations, each with items related to the book:
         1. Boots and shoes
         2. A film clip about the Vietnam War
         3. Photographs
         4. Poetry

  4. After students have seen the items at the stations, they should write about their reactions in their journals



  • The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  • Items related to the Vietnam War

No evaluation is given. This is the introductory activity for study of the book The Things They Carried.
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