Imagery is best taught with descriptive texts. There are some authors that just have a way with language. Agree? I have my favorites for sure…Owl Moon, In November, and All the Places to Love are just a few. In the book I’m featuring with this post, Gary Paulsen is in the spotlight. This book is not his typical. In fact, it’s one of a very few picture books he’s written, but I love it for the imagery it creates for me. I truly feel like I’m riding with him on the dogsled, and if you read it aloud, your students will too. In this post, I share lesson tips for teaching imagery with this book.
Several years ago, I got the opportunity to hear Gary Paulsen speak at the Virginia State Reading Association conference. Gary Paulsen, for a long, long time, was an author I admired and just had to meet. The experience of hearing his story and actually meeting him will forever be a time I treasure. He is a no frills guy who calls it as he sees it. He was just plain real, and what I love best about him is that his books have inspired so many boys in particular to love reading. His vivid descriptions help the reader transport themselves into the lives of Brian, Mr. Tucket, and his many other characters.
Most of Gary’s books are chapter books, but that year, I was lucky enough to find two picture books for my classroom library, The Tortilla Factory and Dogteam, Dogteam quickly became a mentor text for imagery and figurative language in my classroom, and if you have thoughts of using Dogsong or Woodsong, I would highly recommend introducing the topic of sled dogs by sharing this book and perhaps My Life in Dog Years, a unique autobiography.
Examples of Imagery:
The setting of this book is Alaska during the winter, and the narrator in the story is training his dogteam for a race. He describes taking the dogteam out for a night run, and the description in the book is so poetic. Here are a few quotes from the text. I expect you’ll agree.
Building Background for Imagery:
I like to begin every mentor text lesson with a schema builder that generates conversation between my students or that builds background for topics that my students may or may not be familiar with. With this text, the teacher might enjoy showing a clip about the Iditarod like this one from Youtube.
To help organize the information students learn through this video, I prepared this organizer. Students can work in teams to research and discuss what they find out.
Imagery Lesson Materials:
Once students are “warmed up and ready” for the race, it is time to share the book. With this book, I created two pages, an anchor chart for interactive notebooks and a response page. I selected quotes from the text and asked students to describe their thinking. These questions could be used to guide thinking.
- Which words jump out? (record them for discussion after)
- Find examples of figurative language (metaphor, simile, repetition, alliteration)
- What do you picture?
- How would you feel?
Students record their thinking on the right side of the column notes during discussion. Then, once the book examples have been discussed, the teacher can refer back to the word list and talk about how sensory words lead to imagery and sort them by sense.
As a follow up to this lesson (bonus materials), I included a writing option. With this assignment, students complete a RAFT paper. RAFT stands for:
Students will be a musher in the Iditarod. They will be writing for the people interested in coming to the race to tell them what it is like to be a racer running the dogs. This resource is available for purchase using the link below. It was free during the blog hop, but is $3.50 currently. You can learn more by clicking the image below:
Additional Winter Resources and Ideas:
You can certainly come back to this post later if you want to pin this image. For other winter mentor texts, you can also check out the collaborative Pinterest board a group of literacy bloggers and I have put together. Our group has been linking up for several years now, and there are lots of mentor text lessons to choose from. HERE is the link to that board.