Island Imagery

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TSWBAT recognize how their five senses are enhanced through the element of imagery in Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Big Idea

Imagery enriches the senses on our Island.

Warm Up

20 minutes

As we explore the Elements of Literature with our novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins it's necessary to give imagery attention.  It's common to think of imagery as an "easier element" but in truth, the kids need practice in recognizing the five senses as they read.  Using song lyrics is an engaging way to help the kids think of what Imagery is. 

The attached Imagery in Song Lyrics activity will interest the kids as an introduction.  It will be challenging if not explained clearly, however.  As referenced in the reflection video, I originally used a different song- one labeled as imagery rich in a google search.  It wasn't any good.  "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" is one they may not know, but is very rich with imagery, and I wanted to use it after my first, and not good, attempt.  I'm aware it may not be everyone's choice and even though the content of the song was sometimes incorrectly questioned it never crossed any of my kids minds.  Sadly, most didn't even know it was by the Beatles.  I've attached a lyrics video so they can hear the song.  It may be a bit long, but just a few verses are needed.  If using your own song lyrics, or a reading passage, your selection just needs to contain words that are rich in imagery, including as many of the five senses as possible. 

Tell the kids to put heads down on their desks, close their eyes and imagine pictures as the words are read to them.

After you've finished the reading the lyrics, pass out the worksheet with the "Lucy" lyrics, and the kids reread the words to themselves.  They then fill out the chart to determine which song lyrics belong in each category.  Discuss afterward and compare answers while determining if anyone's choices overlap, or didn't appear to be there at all. 

Another idea, have the kids write down words they remember that helped them paint vivid pictures in their mind.  After generating as many words as they can as a group, fill in the blanks.  Their next step is to identify which senses each of these words indicate.

Another example to use with imagery, "Firework" by Katy Perry.



25 minutes

Now that the kids have practiced with imagery and are more secure with the meaning, we return to the Island of the Blue Dolphins.  It's a perfect trip.  The use of imagery is frequent throughout the novel, and the kids are ready to uncover it! 

Instructed to keep the five senses in mind, the children, in groups of two or three, are assigned chapters with the intent of finding examples of imagery.  With only a few in each group, I don't decide beforehand who goes in which group.  A cup with everyone's name on a stick sits in the front of the room, and I randomly draw out the names.  As I pick, I take note of potential conflicts or kids who are silly together, and monitor those pairs or trios carefully.  If there are real issues, the instigator's removed and works independently. 

In the graphic organizer, they identify sensory words and/or phrases, including the page number, and choose which five senses box in which to put it.  The kids love digging into the box and finding as many examples as they can.  I don't want to say it is a competition, but they definitely like to get as many as they can.  Once the class has finished the group work, we compile a bunch of examples on the Smart Board.


10 minutes

Although the closure is general- not relating to the novel, I like this activity.  It's a great way to determine their understanding.  Their task is to write simple sentences on the board then apply sensory language to reflect those them as "showing" sentences.  In addition to checking their comprehension of the sensory lesson, they're identifying and improving bland sentences.


The bird was in a puddle in the street......The delicate bird danced in the puddle on Oakland Street.


I walked through the front door and knew it was time to eat.

A new dog will chew things that she shouldn't.

The food was good.

She closed the door and banged her finger.

The wind blew the trees back and forth.

Children played in the field behind the school.


After the sentences are improved the kids compare their interpretations.  It is interesting to see which senses they chose to use in each.  Recognizing the need for complex sentences that use varied word choice, and that are interesting, is imperative for writing success.