Imagine What an Inchworm Would Say

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SWBAT use imaging/visualizing to explain how characters respond to events in literature.

Big Idea

Create in inchworm diary to show what it's thinking.



This book is a classic. I found it at a garage sale and was intrigued by the author, whom I’ve read before. It’s a great story because it has a predictable ending, although the kids have to put some thought into it. I created the powerpoint of animals in the story to show before the lesson because I didn't think that they would know what a nightingale or pheasant looked like. I'm really glad we had time to preview the animals - it was a great precursor to the story and really helped my kids enjoy the story SO much more.

** "Imaging" is the term that my district uses for "visualizing". In order to stay true to the district expectations, I'll continue to use this verbage. Visualizing is a critical skill for 2nd graders because they need to 'go deeper' in the text. By visualizing as they read, they are creating and tweaking images in their minds as they actively read. This kind of 'close reading', forming images using text, verifying and changing those images, and ultimately comparing their images to the author, creates critical readers and deepens comprehension.

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 wall. I 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

  • "I found a ‘classic’ literature story last year and brought it for us to read.  Who remembers what a classic is?"  Take ideas-an older story that many people have read.
  • "This book is about an inchworm and we’ll be using imaging to see how this character  ‘does his job’ and what he thinks about. "
  • "As we read about this inchworm's adventures, we are going to be imagining what he's thinking about.  Have any of you read the Diary of a Spider or Diary of a Worm?  Those are books that show what the character is thinking about.  When we'rre done we'll create a Diary of an Inchworm."

I am working on imaging/visualizing throughout this unit by helping students realize that this powerful reading strategy can really deepen comprehension. Take a look at some of my other lessons, utilizing the 'Imaging/Visualizing' poster mentioned in the materials section: Imagine That-Make a Picture in Your MindPictures in the Snow-ImagingPicture This-Lost and Found on a MountainOh No! Duck for President-Imagine That!, and Extend Your World.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Lesson discussion

  • “We have talked about many ways that imaging/visualizing help us. When we have pictures in our head and are using this reading strategy, it helps enjoy the story and want to keep reading.  When we read this story today, I think you’ll want to keep reading until the end to see what happens.”
  • “I’ll add that to my ‘imaging poster.”

imaging makes us want to keep reading


  • Before we start, I should show you some pictures of animals in this story.  Let’s talk for a minute about these birds so you can enjoy the story."  Go through the powerpoint and discuss the animals.  Listen to our discussion of the powerpoint and talk about the animals.
  • Read through (but don’t show the picture of that page) that starts with, ‘Don’t eat me’. 
  • Pass out the worksheet - kids should number the boxes #1-#4.
  • “Let’s draw an image of the bird and inchworm.  I saw the robin picture in the powerpoint, so I’ll draw that and add an inchworm picture on top.”  The kids should copy your image on their worksheet.  
  • “Why does the worm say he is useful?  What is he thinking?" (to not get eaten) "Let's add a 'thought bubble' to both. The robin thinks 'I'm hungry' and the inchworm thinks 'Don't eat me'.  Let's check the illustration in the book.  "Our pictures are pretty similar - my imaging is correct."


Guided practice

  • “Let’s try one together”  Read through ‘he measured the neck…” but don’t show the picture.
  • "How long do you think the neck of the flamingo is?"  Take guesses.  "I’ll draw my flamingo neck and add an inchworm on his neck."
  • "What is the flamingo thinking? What is the inchworm thinking?  Let's add a thought bubble for both."
  • “Check the picture in the book – good imaging!”
  • Here's our completed whiteboard.


As we look at illustrations and words in the text, we are using that information to demonstrate the understanding of the characters, setting and plot. (RL.2.7) The Common Core Standards encourage students to examine these as evidence that the author includes to bring meaning to the story. By pointing out this evidence to the students and having them purposefully examine it to bring meaning to the story, you are helping them develop the habit of using evidence from the story to bring meaning for them to the text.


Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • “Now I’ll read more and you can create the images and show what the characters are thinking.”
  • "You'll be filling out 2 more pages with images so make sure the keep numbering the boxes so we can put them in order later."


Read and give kids time to work

  • Read the pages about the other birds parts (leg, beak, tail, hummingbird) and let the kids’ draw an image and add thought bubbles to show how the characters are responding. 
  • It was a great discussion when we talked about what the inchworm did when the nightingale wanted him to count the song.
  • Here are 3 examples of completed pages- completed page 1,  completed page 2,  completed page 3.


As we read through the book, the kids had a GREAT time talking about what the birds and worm was thinking. They had guesses about how long the birds legs and beaks were and what the worm was thinking. It was really a wonderful opportunity to talk about how the characters responded to events in the story. (RL.2.5)  Using imaging helped them to read, think and then verify or adjust their thoughts as we read. Since I had modeled and we took some ideas throughout the activity, the kids got to see how other kids perceive the characters' responses.


Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Prepare the book

  • "Cut out the pages and put them in order before you staple them."
  • "Get ready to share your answers with the group."
  • This is a picture of my kids' completed books.


Share what you know

  • "Let's share as a group what you thought the characters were thinking.  As I read through the book one more time, I'll call on different students to tell me what they wrote for their thought bubbles."
  • Go through the pages and choose different students. My kids really enjoyed hearing each others' answers.


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

Students with language challenges may need help formulating and writing ideas for the thought bubbles. I would suggest they work with a partner or you could add ideas for them on desk slates. 

For those with higher language, challenge them to use higher vocabulary and upper level language. instead of saying, "I run" the student could write, "I'm escaping while you're singing."