Figurative Language Picture Books

9 03 2014

I am a BIG believer in reading picture books to my students. Students of all ages can appreciate a story read aloud and can reap the benefits of hearing a fluent reader.

Here are a few of my favorite Figurative Language picture books. I like to have my students create their own picture book story and incorporate as much figurative language into it as they can. My students love to read, share and look through these while they are writing and we are working on figurative language.


Some Smug Slug- by Pamela Edwards- We had a lot of fun trying to find the S hidden on each page. I put the book on the Elmo so everyone could see!

The Worrywarts- by Pamela Edwards


Parts, More Parts and Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold. We laughed as we read this book! A young boy doesn’t quite get figurative vs. literal language. When his dad asks him to Lend a hand- he thinks his dad wants him to cut off his hand!

The Library Dragon by Deedy. This book has some great vocabulary words, idioms and puns.

Similes and Metaphors:

Owl Moon- Jane Yolen.- this book is full of rich language

All The Places to Love by MacLahlan- this book creates rich images using similes.


Scarecrow by Rylant.

What are some other good picture books you use for figurative language?

Well Defined: Vocabulary Poems

2 03 2014

I showed my students the book, Well Defined, Vocabulary in Rhyme.

It is a really neat book taht takes vocabulary words and personifies them. The words int he poem also define the vocabulry word.

I read some of the poems to my students, we created some together and then sent them off writing their own.

These are some rough drafts of poems that we created:


Never expects anything to go right

She immediately rolls her eyes

She shakes her head

She says, “no way will that work”

Pessimism is easily annoyed with optimism,

can’t stand kudos and utterly hates bravo!



He likes to guess in an educated kind of way

When trying to figure it out he writes it down

He assumes he is right, that his guess is true

He likes to get together with experiment and have rendezvous

“I think, I believe, I assume” are phrases he blurts out.


Teaching Inference

6 10 2013

Inferring is something that I have been trying to teach my kids. Last week I did a lesson that I thought was effective in helping them to practice inference and then transferring it to their reading.

I started the class by showing them some pictures that I asked them write down what they observed. Then I had them write down what they could infer from the picture and then, “ I know this because… “ to support their inferences.

They enjoyed some of the pictures….



Then I read to them the story, Fly Away Home. It is a great story about a homeless dad and son who live in the airport (I also wrote about an activity I did with this book here). As I read the story aloud, I stopped throughout the book and gave them a specific event that happened and I asked them to observe, infer and then support with “I know this because…” We discussed each stopping point as we read. It really helped the students to be able to practice inferring and then supporting their inference. 


What are some other ways that you teach inference?

Wordless Picture Books

14 09 2013

I’m back. Life got crazy and busy and blogging HAD to take a back seat. I often thought about things I wanted to share and blog about, but I wasn’t ever able to find the time to sit and write. I am making it a goal to write on this consistently at least once a week. So here we go, hope I have some readers still out there…


I wanted to have my students write short stories. I always have those kids who can just go and write and a story. Then there are the rest of my kids who have no idea, and don’t know where to start and come up blank. To spark their ideas, I decided to get a bunch of wordless picture books from the library. After we talked about the elements of a short story, I gave each group a wordless picture book and some post it notes. I had them come up with the story, and write their story on the post it notes. The students could stick the post it notes write on the pages, or they could put them on paper to something like a storyboard. When they were done, we made sure that the stories they wrote had all of the elements that we had discussed.

After we shared the group stories, I then placed other Worldess picture books around the room and let them walk around and see if a book sparked their interest or spark an idea. They then took the book back to their desk and used it to help them rite their story.

Overall I thought it helped some kids come up with an idea of what to write about. Some students wrote a story on the entire book, and others just took a page or two and wrote from that. I liked having the students come up with a story together before they started writing their own stories. It helped them generate ideas, but it also made them talk together, listen to each other’s ideas and share their thoughts ( A Common Core  Speaking and listening Standard! :) )


Here are some of the wordless picture books I used:

Free Fall by  David Wiesner

Chalk by Bill Thomson

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Rainy Day Dream by Chesworth, Michae

Flotsam by David Wiesner

The Arrival by Tan Shaun 

A Ball For Daisy by Chris Raschka

Home by Jeannie Baker

Clown by Blake, Quentin

The Red Book by Barbara Lehman

The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller

You Can’t Take a Balloon Into the National Gallery by  Weitzmann and Glasser

Zoom by Istvan Banyai

Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai

Shadow by Suzy Lee

Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang


Punctuation Marks Can Be Fun!

11 05 2010

I have read the adult book, Eat, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss and thought it was pretty interesting. Truss came out with three great pictures books to make teaching some punctuation marks fun!

Check out these books:

Twenty Odd Ducks- Why, every punctuation mark counts

Eats, Shoots and Leaves- why commas make a difference

The Girl’s Like Spaghetti why you can’t manage without apostrophes!

If you haven’t seen these books they make teaching punctuation marks, commas and apostrophes so much easier and it adds some fun to the lesson! I bought a half class set for my kids, so I have them partner up and read through the book,  I lead them as a class through the first few pages. I then let them figure out the punctuation rules. There is also a description in the back of the book to help the students understand the pages.

The books are set up with examples of how the meaning of a sentence can change when a punctuation mark is either included or excluded. When you open the pages up, one page has a sentence with a great picture of what that sentence means. The other page is the same sentence with a punctuation mark included (or taken out) and a picture to represent that meaning.

It makes it easy for kids to visually see why punctuation marks matter!

Here is an example page:

Point of View With a Twist

8 02 2010

 There are so many great books out there for teaching Point of View and perspective. When I talk to my students about point of view, I always read to them numerous picture books to show them that  a creative story can come from changing around the point of view of a familiar story, or writing a story from an unusual perspective.

I always read to my students, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. This is a story of the three little pigs from the point of view of the big bad wolf.  They love this story!

I then have my students read the original version of Little Red Riding Hood. In groups of four they pick a character (the mom, little red riding hood, grandma or the wolf) out of a hat. They then have the re-write the story from the character’s (that they chose) perspective.

To share, I have break into groups and have all the grandma’s share, all the little red-riding hoods share, together. They enjoy hearing how other people wrote their story form the same character’s point of view.

Other good picture books I use for point of view and perspective:

The Fourth Little Pig by Teresa Celsi

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague

The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog by Cynthia Rylant

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg

Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman.

Everybody Needs a Rock

18 01 2010

I recently read Everybody Needs A Rock by Bryd Baylor (he has many  books that are great read- alouds).  This is a story in which a girl tells the reader the ten rules for finding a rock. “Not just any rock, Baylor is careful to note, but ‘a special rock that you find yourself and keep as long as you can–maybe forever.’

I did this for a writing spark and had my kids write their own rules. Some of the ideas I gave them were write ten rules for choosing a friend, parents, teachers, pet, a house, or a vacation spot. The kids loved writing their ten rules and especially they loved fantasizing about their ten rules for finding a teacher that doesn’t give homework and lets them sleep and play games all day and a parent that lets them go to concerts alone and sleep over with their friends on school nights! :)

To expand on this book, you could have the students bring in a special rock and write about how they chose it, you could supply the rocks and they could personify it in their writing, or you could do a esteem boosting activity where you bring in paint and have them paint the letter U on the rock. Eventually someone will figure out that it means U Rock! You can tell the students to keep the rock someone special and always remember they rock when they need a boost.

Persuasive Picture Books

14 01 2010

This week we have been working on persuasive writing and speaking skills. Some of the picture books I use are explained below.

I read to my students are Earrings! by Judith Voirst. This is a cute book written in which a young girl tries to convince her parents to let her get her ears pierce. I read it to the students and we talk about good persuasive techniques that the girl used, and what she should have done to let her parents pierce her ears.

We also read Hey Little Ant by Phillip Hoose . This is a great book about a boy who just before he is about the squish an ant, the ant talks to him! The story proceed with the ant and the kid talking and the ant trying to get the kid to not squish him. The neat thing about this book is that  on the last page, the author leaves the end of the story up to the reader! I have my kids write persuasively to convince the kid to either save the ant or squish it. I use this as a great warm up to writing persuasively.

Another picture book that you can have students write persuasively is Old Henry.

I talked about this book in an older post ( to see that click here). The gist of the book is that, Henry leaves his house because he was grumpy to the neighbors and he doesn’t keep it clean enough for the neighborhood. At the end, Henry writes a letter back to the neighborhood to ask if he can come back to his house. I  have had students write back to Old Henry from the town persuading him to come back, or stay away.

My student’s favorite activity we do with persuasion is I have them create a product and then create a persuasive commercial to sell it using two of the techniques we study in class. I video tape the commercials and then we spend a class period watching them and picking out the persuasive techniques.   They love coming up with a new product and then keeping their commercial a surprise until the class sees them.

Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears? Writing and Discussion Activities

18 12 2009

Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears?  is a clever West African Tale on cause and effect and inference. It is also a good book to look at taking responsibility for your actions. There is so much to discuss.

The book has really unique, rich pictures that capture the attention of many (it is a Caldecott Winner). I read this as a writing spark today and then had the students write. I gave them the following ideas to get them started:

–Have the mosquitoes go in front of the council and try to explain his actions. What do you think he would say?

–Write about why animals do certain things (why are bats out at night? What does a Salmon swim upstream? Why does the sun go away at night?)

–Throughout the story, one animal blamed another animal for their actions. Do you think this was right? What should each animal have said? Do you think that only the mosquito was to blame? Why or why not?

–What is the moral of the story?

–How does one misunderstanding become a big problem?

–What do you learn about the lion from the way he handled the problem?

–Have you and a friend ever had a misunderstanding? What happened?

Emotion Poems~Bring out the Emotions!

14 12 2009

Today during writing workshop, I gave my students some sparks and they ran with it…. We brainstormed what courage is and made a list as a class.

Then we read, Courage by Bernard Waber. It is a really great book that asks the question- what is courage? This book shows the everyday kinds of courage that normal, ordinary people exhibit all the time, like “being the first to make up after an argument,” or “going to bed without a nightlight.” This books  explores the many varied kinds of courage and celebrates the moments, big and small, that bring out the hero in each of us.

I then showed them the poem “Fear” by Raymond Carver. This is a catalog- list type poem. We looked at the poem and discussed it. The students loved pulling out their favorite lines, and discussing lines that they would change. We had an interesting conversation on the last three lines. I then showed the students the Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion and we went through the various emotions besides the common love, fear, hate, joy etc….

I then let the students lose to choose an emotion and write a poem. I encourage them to write their poem with a twist at the end to follow the same format as the original poet. They really got into writing their emotions out on paper. When we did a quick share at the end of the period, we noticed and discussed that as the list got longer, then poem got deeper, because the writer had to think harder about what that emotion evokes. Some students took their writing notebooks home to work on their poems (I have to call that a success for the day! :) )


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