Wording Creates Images - Plant Some Ideas!

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SWBAT determine the meaning of words and phrases and how the author uses imagery to add meaning to the text.

Big Idea

Seeds can 'fly' and petals can 'sail'? The words really add meaning!



** I chose this book because it is a classic elementary text and supports our current science study. All of my students have read an Eric Carle book and are familiar with his style of writing. This book has excellent illustrations and the text is rich with descriptions and simile. Although this is a story, this book is listed as informational text. The events that happen are real and it has rich academic vocabulary that connects to our Science unit on plants.

I've done several lessons with the SIP strategy with informational text. They include What's the Word Mean-Informational Text and New Words and Connecting Ideas.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wallI pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Common starting point

  • Talk with the students about seeds that grow. You can specifically talk about a dandelion and what happens when it dies and releases the seeds. 
  • This is a great video to engage the kids about the life cycle of a flower. 
  • What words could we use to describe that illustration? I brought a book with some great words and imagery that will help us describe what happens to a flower."

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

(In this section, you’ll see how I gradually release the task of identifying and interpreting figurative language in the text to the students.)

  • "This book is full of GREAT figurative language. This author uses these phrases to help us connect what happens to the seed to what happens to people. He also uses similes to compare the seeds to other things. A simile is a way of comparing using words such as  'like' or 'as'."
  • "Today we will find phrases that add meaning to the text because they connect the actions of a non-person to a person and use similes."
  • "We will also describe the meaning of the phrases in relation to the object and identify the similes." 


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • Read the first 2 pages about Autumn. "What does it mean when the author says, 'Will it be able to keep up with the others?'  Can the seed make itself 'keep up'? Does the seed think about 'keeping up' with the other seeds? Can you connect this with a time when you wanted to 'keep up' with others?"
  •  Read the next 2 pages.  "It says the seed 'flies too high...' .  Can a seed fly?  It also says the seed 'sails on'.  Can a seed sail?  Why does the author use this descriptive language?"  Take ideas - you're wanting the students to connect the seed to a bird flying or a ship sailing.
  • Read the next pages about the mountain. "On these pages, the author uses a simile, "as fast as' to help us compare how the seed flies." 
  • We make a list of figurative language ideas on the whiteboard.


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • Can you help me find the descriptive language and the similes on the next 2 pages?  Read the pages about the ocean.  "Can you connect what the seed is doing to what people do?   Yes it says 'flies' and 'drowns'. There's also a simile that compares the seed and says it does not go 'as high as'."
  • "There is a sentence that says the seed 'burst." What does that mean?"  Here is how we practiced using the SIP strategy.
  • This was what the whiteboard looked like when we were done.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "I'm going to continue reading. I'll pause at the end of each page and give you a minute to think about 1-2 words that you heard that might show imagery. They could be a simile or just some great figurative language. "
  • "Write them on the petals of your flower."


Read and Pause for students to write

  • You may need to prompt students as they are working. My kids needed help with spelling.
  • It really became more of a group project, though the kids did have different ideas.
  • Here's how I prompted one student to find imagery in the text.
  • This was an example of a completed worksheet.
  • As students finish their work, ask them about their thinking. Did the imagery help you? Was this easy to do? Did you like the figurative language in the story?  Here's one of my student's reflections.


I'm using this rich text and vocabulary to helps students recognize how the author uses specific words to create images. This kind of wording allows the reader to picture the events in his mind and enriches the text. The Core Standards encourage students to use 'close reading' to analyze a text as they read. They should bring in background knowledge and connect to the words and events in a story to deepen comprehension. As students look specifically that the vocabulary choices that the author uses, they can appreciate that imagery. When students describe who the words and phrases supply meaning to the story, (RL.2.4) they are able to deepen their comprehension of the story.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Finish the project and wrap up

  • "Now you can have a few minutes to color your flower."
  • "Think about the colors that Eric Carle uses - are they dull or bright?" Prompt for bright.
  • "Can you make your flower look like the images that we saw in the story?"
  • Here are 2 of my students projects - student project 1 and student project 2.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

This is a tougher lesson for students with language challenges because the text is so dependent on figurative language, which is usually more difficult for these students. I would encourage you to work with them as a group separately or pair them with a partner.

For students with higher language, touch on their abilities as you walk around asking kids about their ideas. They need to be challenged...'Why did you choose that for figurative language? What does that mean to you? Can you tell me how the simile helped you to understand? Can you think of another simile that would fit?"