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Memory Boxes

Suggested Group(s): Elementary, Middle, High

Purpose: To talk about memories and how ‘things’ remind them of the person who died and creating a safe place to hold those ‘things’ and memories

Task/need: Converting the relationship…to one of memory, living on the grief spiral, developing a new self-identity

Activity Setup Ideas:

  • Begin by talking about the memories that the group members may have of the person who died
  • Ask if there are some things in the group member’s lives that remind them of the person who died
  • Explain that we will be creating a special place to hold some of those things and the memories that go with them
  • Ask what a box that holds your precious memories should look like
  • Questions that you may want to ask:
    • "Do you have things that belonged to the person who died?"
    • "Have you saved things that belonged to the person and remind you of the person?"
    • "How do you use those objects?"
    • "Is it okay to remember?"
    • "What kinds of things can you save?"
    • "What if a special item doesn’t fit in the box?"


  • Boxes (cardboard or wooden)
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Embellishments
  • Magazines
  • Anything else that can add to the box

Description: Giving the group wide latitude, allow each group member to decorate a box in which they can store memorabilia related to the person who died. If the children need ideas, have them think of the hobbies and interests of the person, their favorite color(s) and other things that bring their person who died to mind.

Activity Wrap Up Ideas:

  • Allow the group members to share their boxes and why they designed it the way that they did, if they wish.
  • Discuss the meaning of the box and talk about the questions above, if not already discussed.
  • Talk about the fact that the box has a lid and the participants can open and close it when they want, remembering when they want.


  • Because of the wide variety of materials that can be incorporated, pay special attention to management of those materials (especially things like paint, glue & glitter).
  • For younger children, use materials that are easier to manage, such as marker daubers, stickers and foam letters/shapes.
  • Plan ahead to leave a week between when creating the box and taking it home to allow for drying time.
  • Suggest that children bring in a memento to put in their box during the second week after the boxes are dry and there is less risk of getting paint on the memento.

*This activity has been used in the preschool when there is a subgroup of children aged five and up. When using this activity with preschoolers, using smaller boxes and materials such as stickers and ink daubers will make it a more manageable activity. These young children will still need a lot of support for the activity.