Who's At The Door? Use Images to Find out!

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SWBAT use words acquired through reading to describe images (with adjectives) that demonstrate understanding of characters in a story.

Big Idea

Adjectives create a GREAT image!



I like this story because it has great descriptors and 3 scenes where the kids have to guess who is coming in the door. This makes the kids want to ‘keep reading’ and use imaging to predict who is at the door. The reading level is this story is 2.9, which falls at the top of the lexile for 2nd grade. I read this story to the kids because it has some difficult vocabulary and the students need the opportunity to comprehend literature in the grade 2 complexity band proficiency with scaffolding at the high end of the range. (RL.2.10)

** "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

  • Put up the powerpoint. "Shadows.... let's describe these shadows with some adjectives - what do they look like?"  Take ideas.  "Can you use imaging to tell me who they are?"
  • "Who could these characters be?"
  • This is what my introduction sounded like.


It would be great fun to put up a black outline on the window your door, if possible. I can’t do this because my door is solid, but consider this.

The author has great examples that the kids will connect to, including illustrations and text that help kids create images to contribute meaning to the text. (RL.2.7) The opportunity to examine words and pictures in a book and form images that can be verified or changed allows kids to facilitate the learning process and be an active reader, a shift in learning suggested by the Common Core Standards. We want kids to take charge of their reading by imaging/visualizing as they read, bringing in background knowledge and adding information from the text.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes


  • “We have talked about many ways that imaging/visualizing help us. The images we create are based on our background knowledge and words in the literature book. Good authors use words called adjectives to describe characters and give us better images.
  • “I’ll add that to my ‘imaging/visualizing poster.”

                                    Imaging is better with adjectives.


  • “In this story today, the author gives us three chances to imagine a character and gives us adjectives, or descriptive words to help us check our image.”
  • I’ll read the beginning and stop when we can use our imaging strategy.”
  • Read to page 9 and show the picture. “I’ll add his ‘shadow’ to the door on the whiteboard. What adjectives could I use to describe him?"  (fat, bald, big ears).  "Let’s read a bit more to find out more about him."
  • Read pages 11-13. "Let me think about words that could describe this character – mention several and then write some under the picture. "I'll read now and verify my description and image and add some new words." (boring, old...) Take the time to make sure students are using the text and illustrations to support their images.
  • This is what our discussion looked like in class.
  • Take a look at the whiteboard when we were done.


Guided practice

  • Pass out the worksheet.
  • “Let’s read some more and you can help me describe the next character.”
  • Read through page 17 and show the picture.
  • "What words could we use to describe this person?"  Discuss ideas and use some adjectives as well as taking ideas from the kids.  (tall,  lumpy, fake)  "Let's verify our words with the text."  Read pages 18-19 and recheck the words.
  • Make sure you go back to the text - this is the crux of the lesson. Go back to the text and verify your images. Here's an example of how we used the text.
  • This is our discussion about the picture.
  • The whiteboard looked like this when we were done.


My goal through this discussion with students about adjectives is to share ideas and brainstorm.  The students have different vocabulary levels – they need to hear higher level words through discussions and from books to increase their own vocabulary. The Common Core Standard for L.2.6 says that students will use words acquired through conversations, reading, and being read to, and responding to texts, using adjectives to describe. I want to have rich discussions and garner a variety of words that the students can choose from to describe the character.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • “Now it’s your turn to describe two more characters.”
  • Read to page 25 and stop.  “Who do you think is at the door? Viola Swamp! – right.”
  • “Take a minute and draw an image and then I’ll read and let you write some adjectives.“
  • "Let's check the text - was your image right?  The text says she was a 'witch'!"
  • Read pages 27-28 and let the kids write several words.
  • Take ideas – who wants to share your words?”  Here's our discussion about the words.


Finish the story

The kids also wanted to draw an image for the teacher in the end, but the illustrator shows the picture. They really and a GREAT time with the humor of the book - understanding that the teacher dressed up like Viola Swamp!

I finished the story and we talked about the humor and irony. Some of the kids understood more than others, but they all enjoyed the imaging and using adjectives to describe the characters.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Describe the task

  • “There were so many great descriptive words to help with imaging."
  • "I”ll give you a chance to create an image of Viola as a witch. I brought some black paper and colored paper.”
  • "You’ll be making a picture with a witch skirt, tights and witch shoes. Think about the image you had in your mind.  We saw her face but never her shoes. You can create whatever kind of shoes and tights your want. Maybe you saw The Wizard of Oz – that witch had interesting shoes.  Maybe in your background knowledge you saw a movie or read a book about a mean witch.  You can create whatever you’d like."  Here's how I described the task.
  • "When you’re done, you need to add the words – 'The image of my witch. She is….' And write your describing words all over the poster.”  I wrote the words and prompts on the whiteboard.
  • Be ready to share your image and tell why you chose those words.


Give kids time to work


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

Students with academic challenges may need help thinking of vocabulary words and synonyms for the witch. I would give them some ideas on whiteboards at their desk or work with them as a group.

Challenge students with higher language to think of ‘juicier’ words to describe their image. Instead of ‘scary’ and ‘bad’ ask them to think of ‘older kid words’ – perhaps ‘frightening’ or ‘obnoxious’.