How to choose words that will create pictures in the minds of our readers.
Materials: Picture of a cat (See picture to the right), 5 x 7 pieces of paper, pencil and crayons.
Lesson Format: Pass out a 5 x 7 piece of paper. Explain to the students that in today’s lesson they are going to draw a picture of a cat. They are not going to see the picture until the end of the lesson. They must listen carefully to the description.
Begin the lesson by holding the picture of the cat close to your body so the students cannot peek. (They cannot look at their neighbor’s picture or the lesson will not be valid.) Read the following descriptive paragraph of your cat.
Step #1- Teacher says, “I am holding a picture of my cat. I want you to listen to the whole description of my cat before you draw. Read the following description.
I have a cute cat. My cat is a nice size. She likes to sit on the back of my couch. It is a really cool color. She has really pretty eyes. Her tail is really neat. Her ears are a fantastic shape. Then reread the description slowly while the students draw the cat you are describing.
If students ask questions such as, what color is your cat? What size is the cat? What does her tail look like? You respond with, my cat is a cool color; it is a nice size, its’ tail is awesome. If they ask more questions respond using adjectives like fantastic, terrific, beautiful, nice, cool etc.
Next have students share their pictures. Every picture should be different. Explain to the students the reason all the pictures are different is because words like awesome, cool, nice and pretty don’t create a shared pictures in our minds.
Here are some examples of the different cats the students drew. The pictures are very different, not even the color is a match.
Try Again With Detail
Try this lesson again, this time with more detail.
Step #1 - Explain to your students that you are going to read another description of your cat. They are to listen carefully as you read the following description.
"I have a really cute cat. When she sits up straight on the back of my living room couch, she looks like a statue and her tummy has five little wrinkles. She is a medium sized cat, and she has eyes that look like green marbles. When you look at her, you would think that she doesn’t have a coat, because her pink skin resembles that of a pig. Her tail is long and skinny like spaghetti and it curls up like a coil. I love her triangular ears, her button nose and her heart shaped face. My cat is really cute."
Now reread the description while the students draw the cat you describe.
Students share their picture. They should notice the pictures are very similar. Show them the actual picture of the cat that you were holding. Explain once again that the reason for the similarities in the drawings is because of the detailed description that was given and the clear image it created in their minds as they listened.
Here are some if the student drawings, there is much more consistency in the mental pictures created by the more detailed description.