by Judie Haynes
Understanding how poets use words to paint pictures is a concept that can be taught to young students. The key is to start with an easy simile that is very visual. The combination of a big snowstorm and hands-on materials made this lesson successful.
Intermediate ESL, Grades 3-8
Content Concepts and Skills
- Using figurative language in English
- Understanding a simile
Materials or Resources
First Snow by Marie Louise Allen, popcorn, cotton balls, marshmallows,whipped cream, polyfill for pillows.
This lesson was taught to a group of intermediate 3rd and 4th graders.
1. One of the reading strategies that I teach my students is visualization. Have students close their eyes while you read First Snow aloud.
by Marie Louise Allen
Snow makes whiteness where it falls.
The bushes look like popcorn-balls.
The places where I always play,
Look like somewhere else today.
2. Explain that the poet uses words to paint pictures. Encourage students to make a picture in their heads when hearing the poem.
3. To what does the poem compare the snow on the bushes? Make popcorn for your students to eat and pile it in small bowls so that they understand the term “popcorn ball.”
4. Brainstorm comparisons with students that could be used in the poem in place of "popcorn balls." Use realia such as marshmallow, pillows, or cotton balls to help students understand the vocabulary. Have them complete the sentence:
"The bushes look like_________________."
5. Brainstorm with students a comparison to complete the sentence:
“Snow is as white as __________________.”
6. Provide them with realia or pictures of possible answers. Responses will depend on their age. Typical replies are cotton balls, fluffy clouds, vanilla ice cream, cream cheese, whipped cream, puffy pillows, and marshmallows.
7. Have students draw a large snowball or use the downloadable pattern. Write the simile on the top of the snowball:
8. Then have students draw a picture of their simile on the snow ball. Cut the snowball out and have students glue it on dark blue paper. Have them draw snowflakes around the snowball with a white crayon.
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