Go Away Big Green Monsters

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SWBAT describe the characters, setting, or events by analyzing the illustrations and details in the text.

Big Idea

This lesson is perfect to analyze the illustrations in two spooky text about a monster and frightening animals.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection and Introduction

The big standard this lesson is designed to meet is RL1.7 which is about analyzing illustrations and details in a text to describe the characters, setting, and events. So, the students analyze how the colors change in a story and this shows how the illustrator wants the reader to feel or show what is happening. The students really look at this lesson from the craft and structure perspective of the illustrator. We focus on two questions: Why did the illustrator use a specific color? What is he trying to show you? 

I chose "Go Away Big Green Monster," by Ed Emberly, because it is very simple, but powerful. It also has examples of how illustrators use colors to give the text meaning.  There is a very insightful chart (What the Illustrations Mean)  I found in The Common Core Lesson Book by Gretchen Owocki that just lays out how illustrators use color, shape, and location of objects to give a text meaning.  I really did not know all of these when I started this unit, so I am going to give all my students this document and keep in on the bulletin board by my desk to use it as a reference.

Lesson Overview

The lesson begins with the students seated in the lounge in heterogeneous groups of two or three. The groups are mixed in ability based on the students oral reading scores on DIBELS. One student is called peanut butter and one is called jelly.  This helps me keep some kind of organization when it comes to group member roles and participation.  When I want a particular level student to read I just say peanut butter partner will do the reading.  This makes it fun and keeps me from going around to each group and telling each group who will read.

Now, I find that first graders can only pay attention about twenty minutes.  I have a video on Transitions. Well, actually that's about the max for me too.  So, we move often and as the students move they stay in the same group.  They begin in the lounge or carpet area, but we don't have a carpet for reasons I will not mention.  Next we move the desks where the students participate in the guided practice, and then to the center tables for partner work. Last, the lesson ends back in the lounge.  This is the flow for most all of my lessons and believe me if I change it up I create mass chaois. I have found that students really appreciate consistency in the lesson flow and transitions.


The hook is where I try to activate my students thinking and really get them motivated to learn.  So, I do have the lesson image on the Promethean board for my students to use to make some predictions about what we will be reading about today.  I thought about using the cover of the text, but I think will wait and do that in the guided practice.  I ask them to discuss what kind of things they think an illustrator might be trying to show the reader, when they look at the cover of the book. They may think this is going to be scary, because it is green, has a black background, and it is a monster. As I listen to their discussions I am assessing their ability to connect yesterday's lesson to today, and I am hoping they think we will read about a scary green monster. Students are social by nature and giving them peer communication frequently add to the joy of the lesson.

Next, I explain what we will do in the lesson because the students need to know.  So, we will read a story about a green monster.  We will use the illustrations to add to the description the text gives about the monster.  In addition, we will analyze how the illustrator used certain things to make the reader have a specific feeling about the monster or text.  Last we chant the lesson goal. I can use illustrations to describe the character, setting, and events.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Now it is time for the class to move to the desks to begin with the guided practice. The students use the chart Illustrations and Color Big Green Monster Chart to analyze the illustrations and make predictions about how the illustrations add to the scariness of the monster.  The use of colors in the text helps students understand the monster (What the Illustrations Mean).  To help my class I made a chart for us to use to organize our ideas. I do  try to lead them through questioning to an accurate response if they are struggling with ideas. I might say: What does the chart say about those colors?

The first point I want the class to see is that the illustrator uses the color black to make the monster seem scary.

The second illustration that adds to the scariness of the monster is the big sharp red teeth. 

The third thing I want the class to see is that the speaker/ child in the story tells the monster to go away and as he leaves the colors change to lighter colors. The lighter colors show that there is less reason to be scared, because the monster is leaving.

Last, when the monster is there the background is black to show how scary he is, but as he leaves the colors change.  Once he is gone the color of the background is white to symbolize that the room is safe. 

I use partner talk as a strategy for my class to discuss ideas before they share them with the rest of the class. Then we have a class discussion. Last, I add what the entire class decided was accurate to our chart.

Partner Work

20 minutes

Next the students transition to the center tables where I have everything set up for the students to analyze the text Jumanji. They will fill in the chart to show how specific things that the illustrator has done with the images to describe the character, setting, and events.

The big things I want the students to notice are the dark colors which can create a scary or dangerous situation.  The other things are the specific characters are the boy and his sister, and the setting is their home.  Next, I hope see that the lion is dangerous and intimidating to the boy, because the lion is roaring. The lion is also above the boy and the boys face appears scared. These are just a few things I hope they see.

The specific pages I have a sticky note on for the children to analyze are in the resource section (Picture 1 JumanjiPicture 2 JumanjiPicture 3 JumanjiPicture 4 Jumanji).

Student Reflection

5 minutes

In this section I like to work on speaking and listening with my students, so I seat them on their name tags on the floor in the lounge.  The class chants, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor hand in our laps talking no more".  Then I  select three speakers (Presentation) from volunteers that want to present their work.  I say, "Please raise your hand if you want to present your work." Right before each group read I say, "Speak loud, clear, and enunciate your words.  Remember to speak with expression."  Then I remind the listeners to think about what the person is saying and be prepared to give them feedback.  Analyzing the work of others engages my students in a higher order thinking activity.

Next, several students give each other ideas to make their work better.  I try to create a discussion and allow the students the share their opinions.  Then I add my own comments to confirm what is correct.


5 minutes

The lesson has almost come to an end, and I need to know what my students have learned. But, I also want to make sure my instruction aligns to their interests, so they will see the relevance and be engaged.  We are entering the second half of the school year, and I have to stay fun so my students will keep working hard.  

They discuss what they learned and one thing they want to learn. Hopefully, some students will say that the color of pictures can create feelings or show meaning. While I listen and then restate some interesting things I heard. Then I share the plan for future lessons. Last, we restate the lesson goal to make sure the students remember the focus of the instruction and the skill. We say, "I can describe, the characters, setting, and events in a story by analyzing the illustrations."