by Lynley Dodd
was blacker than black,
a stalking and lurking
He had bright yellow eyes,
a warbling wail
and a kink at the end
of his very long tail.
He was cheeky and cheerful,
friendly and fun,
he’d chase after leaves
and he’d roll in the sun.
But at night he was wicked
and fiendish and sly.
Through moonlight and shadow
he’d prowl and he’d pry.
It’s Friday morning and I’m sitting in a hotel room, being a bit lazy after two very full days of presenting staff development workshops focusing on writing. I’m so glad that two months ago I booked an afternoon departure so I could enjoy a late-start luxury.
This post, inspired by primary teachers who joined me during those two workshops, is a recap of one of the activities we did, an activity to build background knowledge, introduce rich vocabulary, and provide descriptive models during our discussion about prewriting … using poetry.
Backstory to Poetry-Picture Matching —
I planned to use the general topic “cats” to model our how-to-write lessons (writing process). (How To Write workshop)
I had gathered resources to use during for the research part in prewriting: photographs, picture books, poems, and articles about cats. Pixabay was a great source for photos. The shelves of my personal library provided a good sampling of picture books, including a copy of Slinky Malinki. A quick internet search turned up several articles with interesting cat facts. And Rainy Day Poems had a selection of cat poems.
Poetry-Picture Matching spans all reading levels and is a springboard for much rich discussion. It also encourages students to make connections between images and print. And the poetry is usually loaded with delicious words in short text lines.
Preparation is relatively easy as long as you have access to the internet, to a printer, and of course, to books — personal library, school library, public library, online.
I selected a half dozen cat poems. Then I selected cat photos to go with the poems. With the photos, I created cat playing cards.
How I created the cat playing cards:
Using the photos I had selected, I created a Keynote slide presentation — one cat photo per slide, filling as much of the slide as possible. I numbered each slide in the upper right hand corner. Then, using the print feature, I created a printable document of the slide show using the “grid” option with six slides per page. I left the cards on sheets for easy use in the workshop. However, if using with students, I would laminate the cards and cut them apart.
Here are my 24 cat playing cards, on four sheets, ready to be cut apart.
1. Students gather in a circle.
2. Each child receives at least one cat card.
3. Students close their eyes and visualize while the teacher reads the poem or a stanza of a poem.
4. Students open their eyes and look at their cards as teacher reads poem or stanza again. Students are listening, looking, thinking to determine if their card matches (illustrates) the poetry lines the teacher just read.
5. Teacher guides student talk supporting card selections — how the images in a picture support the ideas created by the words of the poem.
Here are two examples–
Resources for Poetry-Picture Match
Here is a link to a 4-page color master for the cat photo cards I used with the poems that I’ve listed below: Cat Picture Cards. The cards are numbered for easy reference during the activity.
I found the cat poems at Rainy Day Poems. Here is a list of the poems that go with the Cat Picture Cards:
- “Cats” by Eleanor Farjeon
- “At Night” by Aileen Fisher
- “Kitty in the Basket” by Eliza Le Follen
- “The House Cat” by Annette Wynne
- “The Milk Jug” by Oliver Herford
- “The Game” by Oliver Herford
- “Cat” by Mary Britton Miller
- “Two Little Kittens” by Jane Taylor
- “The Shadow Kitten” by Oliver Herford (When I read this one, I don’t read the title because it was a spoiler.)
- “The Kitten at Play” by William Wordsworth
- “The Cat of Cats” by William Brighty Rands
After you have had fun doing this whole group poetry-picture match game, there are dozens of other possibilities for the cat poems and cat picture cards. They can be prompts for sentence writing, poetry writing, or story writing. Use them for matching activities in a station /center using lines or a stanza from the poems (instead of whole poem) to match with pictures [engaging with mentor text, visualizing, making meaning]. Sort picture cards by descriptive characteristics [noticing details].
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