Adding mystery to any lesson immediately engages your students. This lesson is designed to reiterate the importance of how pictures are made to represent words (not the other way around).
In order to do this lesson, all you need is something to hide the front cover of a story.
NO MATERIALS NEEDED! Now that's a blessing, isn't it?
I have attached the piece of paper that I use when I hide the front cover of a story (I like this one because the paper is pretty plain, but it reminds students who happen to look at that they are not to not use their eyes, but to use their brains).
In this lesson, I pick a story about fictional characters that ARE NOT PEOPLE!
Some good stories are ones about animals, cartoon characters, trees or plants that come to life, aliens or even ghosts- anything not human!
The reason why I choose a story with characters such as these is for the mystery element.
This will help show my students how much the pictures can change how they hear the story!
For this lesson, I personally like to use the book, Owen and Mzee, by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff, Paula Kahumbu and Peter Grestke. I do this activity when I am talking about friendship. If you teach a unit on friendship, I would recommend you try this activity here with this book!
Here is what I need to do:
READ THE STORY AHEAD OF TIME!
Once I have read the story, I pick a small passage of the depicting an important moment or two between the characters. I try to pick a passage that has one hinting vocabulary word. (In Owen and Mzee, I choose the part of the story where it talks about how they do everything together, including wallowing in the mud- wallow is a hint that the characters aren't humans.) When I do this, I am encouraging even more listening skills. Students will hang on my words to try and decipher what I am talking about!
When I read this passage aloud to my students, I are ONLY going to read the parts telling about the characters' actions, feelings, etc.
I DO NOT give away anything about the character not being a human. *This is the key
As I read the story, I read it as you normally would, using inflection and pausing when necessary; however, I am careful not to show the pictures or slip and show the cover!
Once I have read the story, I am going to send students back to their seats. I will give them a few minutes to illustrate what they think the pictures in the story should look like. I encourage them to think for themselves and guard their illustrations.
(If it is later in the year, I always have them write a sentence that explains their picture- this helps drive home the fact that words are needed to explain the pictures. After all, "A story with only pictures and no words is no story at all," as I say.)
After everyone has drawn, I call them all to go to small groups. In their groups, I have them explain their illustration. I encourage them to point out the details that they drew.
(For this part, I use a timer for this and allow each student about 45 seconds.)
Once they have shared with a group, I allow them to choose a partner. With that partner, students should share WHY exactly they drew what they did. At this time, I encourage them to refer to key words that helped them decide what to draw.
After the conversation concludes, I show my students the real illustration/picture that goes along with the passage(s) I read. They will are always amazed!
Then, I do back through and read the passage again.
This time, I put emphasis on the clue vocabulary words and the hinting words that are there.
I point to the pictures as you read.
When I am done, I lead students by completing a think-aloud explaining how they could've possibly come to the conclusion about the characters (and why they aren't humans).
After I have given the image and the hints, I have students go back and draw another picture on the other side of their paper.
Once students have the before and the after picture, I let them get back into small groups. Students will use their pictures to compare and contrast. I encourage students to talk about how they changed their picture and which words told them to draw which pieces on their second, correct illustration. (At the beginning, I have them compare and contrast between their own two pictures. As the year progresses, have students compare and contrast with pictures from others as well.)
I like to hang up my mystery image poster after this lesson to remind students to really use their brains while also providing them with a reference.
Basic Instruction Example:
"Today, we are going to read a story... but it's a mystery. I would like for you to close your eyes and imagine what is going on as I read this story. Listen for clues. Listen for words that might tell you about the setting and the characters. Create an image in your head that you think would belong with the words. As I read, keep creating images in your head. When we are done, you are going to have to create an illustration that you think matches with the words I read."
Here is where you would read your passage, slowly and carefully. *Remember that your cover should be hidden and the pages should be facing you only! (This will freak them out the first time, but they will pay attention, I promise!)
"Now, I want you to go back to your seat and draw an illustration that you think would match the words I just read. Think about all of the words. Also, think about the images you already created in your head....... then... draw." I would give students about 5 minutes for this.
"I want you to get into your small groups and discuss what you drew and why you drew it. Tell your friends what all is included in your illustration and give them as much detail as you can."
"Now, I want you to get with your partner. Tell your partner what you dew and also tell them what words made you draw those things. Talk about the pieces of your picture that came from the words and why."
"Alright, now that we have shared our thoughts and ideas about our illustrations, let's see the actual illustrations from the story!" Show them the illustrations. I love to look at the shock and awe on their faces.
"Now, listen to this part again and see if it makes more sense, now that you have seen the pictures." Re-read it. "Now, the key words and/or phrases in here were....______________. Those were some hints for you! Remember: pictures are made to match the words. So, if the key words say this: _________, then you have to make your picture match! Now, I would like for you to go back to your seat. On the other side of your paper now, re-draw your illustration. Now that you have heard the hints and have seen the illustrations from the story, go and make your own to match!" Send students back to their seats to work.
"Now, go and get back with your group. I would like for you to compare and contrast both of your illustrations. What parts are alike? What parts are different? Think of the details you discussed the first time and compare and contrast them with the ones you saw in the story." I give students about 1-2 minutes each for this.
I walk around and monitor and adjust conversation. I congratulate students for doing this. This is hard and uncomfortable for them; however, they are always begging to do it again!