One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

Recommended Grades: 2-4

The story of “one tiny turtle” and her life cycle in the ocean.  The author uses a technique to tell a narrative story, but shares information in a non-traditional way. 

A Loggerhead turtle at the North Carolina Aquarium, Kure Beach, NC
A Loggerhead turtle at the North Carolina Aquarium, Kure Beach, NC


Lesson Idea:  

Nonfiction Features/Sensory Details: Read aloud One Tiny Turtle and ask students what they notice about the features the author uses. Discuss the differences between the two text types.  How does the author’s technique help us to understand the life cycle of Loggerhead turtles?  This would also serve as a great mentor text for sensory details in writing.  How does the author use sensory details to enhance the story?  Could you borrow this technique from the author?

©2013 by Dawn Little for Picture This!

Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Verdi by Janell Cannon

March Theme:  Word Choice

For the first half of 2011, I will take time to focus on picture books that you can use with each of the Six Traits of Writing.  Each month will be dedicated to a new trait.

December 2010 – Ideas

January 2011 – Organization

February 2011 – Voice

This month’s theme is Word Choice.  How can we use picture books to model for students how authors pick specific words for their writing?  How do authors use words to convey a feeling or a get a point across?

Recommended Grades: 3-6

Verdi is a great story of being true to yourself.  Verdi is a yellow snake whose mother wants him to grow up big and green.  He doesn’t want to turn green though because he thinks the green snakes are lazy and boring.  Yet, it’s his fate.  Will he stay true to the yellow snake inside him when he does turn green?

Lesson idea: After reading aloud this book, discuss how the author used sensory details to make the words, pictures, and stories come alive.  As a class, create a list of sensory details from the book.  Find other mentor texts that are strong in sensory details and add their details to the list as well. Provide a bag for each student with five small everyday items inside (cotton ball, piece of candy, a tissue, etc.) and have each student close their eyes and pick out an item.  Encourage them to notice how the item feels, smells, what they hear, what it looks like and if they can taste it.  Then have them write a list of sensory details about the item in their writer’s notebooks.  Students should do this for each item in the bag.  Encourage them to use the list when they write.

If you are looking for additional resources and ways to teach word choice to students, find past posts under the Word Choice tag.

**Note** I provide these lesson ideas under the assumption that you are familiar with The Six Traits of Writing.  If you are not, and would like more information on teaching students about organization or any other six traits component, please feel free to contact me at Dlittle[at]linkstoliteracy[dot]com.  I am happy to provide more specific lessons or resources if necessary.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Into the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson

An informational book, with beautiful pictures of sea life, describing the life cycle of the sea turtle.

Sensory Details
This book is a well written piece of nonfiction. The author eloquently explains the life cycle of the sea turtle with wonderful descriptions: “Tap,tap. Scritch.” Can you hear the sea turtle as she breaks out of her egg? Lesson Idea: This book would work perfectly with a unit on ocean life or living things. Divide the class into five small groups: taste, touch, hear, see, smell. Provide each group with a sensory chart (five columns, one for each sense). As you read aloud, ask student groups, to mark the correct column with the sensory details from the text. For example, the hearing group would write “Tap, tap. Scritch.” in the hearing column. After reading aloud, discuss the sensory details from the text. Create a class sensory chart, combining each group’s contributions. As an extension, students can use this text as a mentor text when researching and writing about an animal’s life cycle or other informative piece about an animal. Encourage the use of sensory details in the writing piece.

Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

What are the sounds you hear on a dark, quiet country night? The nightime world awakens as the people in the country sleep. Listen carefully, you might miss something.

Sensory Details
This book uses sensory details to make you feel like you are actually in the country. Lesson Idea: Read aloud the text and model for students how to find the various sensory details the author uses to make the story “come to life.” Create a chart (large enough for everyone to see) with various senses (hearing, seeing, smelling, etc.) and boxes to note the text. As you read aloud the text, stop when you come to details that make you use your senses. Write in the box for the correct sense the text that made you use that sense. Students can use the chart as a resource for their own writing.