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.

Verdi by Janell Cannon and Time for Kids: Snakes by Editors of Time for Kids

A cute story about a snake who doesn’t want to grow up, but learns a valuable lesson about staying true to himself.

A nonfiction text about snakes.

Twin Texts
Cannon beautifully writes and illustrates this tale of a carefree snake who learns to love himself despite the fact that he has to grow up. Even though he must age, he does not have to lose the fun-loving, figure-eight forming side of his personality. Lesson Idea: If snakes or animals is a topic of study in your classroom, or if you are trying to find something to interest boys, Twin Texts is a great strategy. Choose a fiction and nonfiction text that complement each other. In this case, Time for Kids: Snakes is a great complement to Verdi. Read the first page which describes Verdi being sent off into the jungle by his mother. She wants her hatchlings to grow up big and green, but Verdi is resisting this idea. He likes his yellow skin and bold stripes. After reading the first page ask, “What more do you want to learn about Verdi?” Have your students list all that they want to learn about Verdi. Discuss. Read aloud the text and see if students wonderments were answered. Similarly, prior to reading Time for Kids: Snakes, have your students complete the K and W of a KWL. Read aloud the text (or have students independently read) and then have students complete the L. These two activities together should provide students with the ability to activate their prior knowledge and come to a deeper understanding of the topic of snakes.