The Language of Images

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SWBAT describe how words and phrases help images that supply rhythm and meaning in a story.

Big Idea

Words create great images for us! We explore "quiet places" in this lesson and discover the meaning behind rich, figurative language.



I like this book because the images are very clear and fanciful. I think my kids related to this story because we live in a big city and it's loud!  They identified with the boy trying to find a quiet place and really enjoyed creating an image of their own quiet place in the end. 

**"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.


The third time that I taught this lesson, I changed things up a bit. I used a different book called, Hello Ocean, by Pam Muniz Ryan. Instead of the worksheet, I stapled 9 1/2 sheets of blank paper together and the kids made an imaging book. They really seemed to enjoy doing that more than the worksheet.  Here's the kids' book cover, sample page 1, a 2nd sample page, and sample page 3.  This is what the completed whiteboard looked like.

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

  • "Today's book is about a 'quiet place'.  What are some quiet places that you like?  What do you like to do there?"  Take ideas.
  • "Today we'll use our skills with imaging to think about what the character might imagine about some quiet places."
  • "The author uses some figurative language to help us with our images.  Who remembers what these words are - onomatopoeia and personification?"  (Take a few moments to discuss these, but we'll discuss them further during the lesson.)
  • "Let me read a few pages and you can get an idea of the imagery in this book."  Here's how I read to introduce the topic in the book.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes


  • “Let's review some of the ways that imaging/visualizing helps us."  Look over the list or review with the class.
  • "The story I brought today has some great wording.  It has figurative language with lots of adjectives that describe the setting."
  • "I'll add this to my 'Imaging/Visualizing Strategy' poster: Imaging helps me when a book has figurative language.


Modeling  (read and cover the illustration until after the kids draw the image)

  • “Let's read and see how the author uses a pattern of wording with figurative language to help us enjoy the story."  Read through the page that starts with, "You could look under a bush."  
  • "What words help you imagine the setting?"  (suggest: crawl, soft far away sounds, buried treasure, and desert island) "Do you hear the figurative language - 'sounds are soft and far away', finding buried treasure on a far away island'? The author uses this image to help us imagine this place with these words."   Here's how our discussion sounded and the whiteboard example that I had.
  • "Does the author use more figurative language?"  Let's read more. Read through the next pages 'You could look in the woods...'  
  • "Who can tell me what figurative language you hear that help you imagine this place? Listen to the personification: blue jays scream and winds sings. I'll draw an image and then compare the illustrator's image." 
  • Point out the pattern of the words in the book... 'you could look'...'description'... 'could be your quiet place'... 'but if ...'
  • "I'll read some more..."Read the next page, 'You could look by the sea...' Talk about the personification, patterns in the words, and the images. Draw a picture and explain your thinking. 
  • Here are my comments on how to add details after checking the text. 

Guided practice

  • "Let's try a few together. Read through the page that says, 'You could look in the desert'.  "What images do you see in your mind? What animal is personified? What do we see in the desert?" Here's an example of our discussion about imagery.
  •  Here's a picture of the completed whiteboard.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes
Explain the task
  • "I'm going to read the rest of images. Your job is to list some figurative language that you hear and create an image. Then we can compare your image to the book's."
  • I actually did one more image with a few kids about the pond. They seemed to need one more example. This was the completed whiteboard after we did the last together.


Read and prompt as necessary

  • Read each set of pages, pausing to let the students use imaging to sketch a picture and write some figurative language.
  • Prompt as necessary and help with spelling some words on the board.
  • Kids may notice that the author's description does not match the text. "Is that ok that your image is different?  Why do you think the author's author's images differ?  Perhaps the illustrator does not always match his pictures to the text."
  • As the kids draw images, ask them to explain what they're drawing and the words that they choose. 
  • Remind kids that their images could be different than the author's.  Sometimes the text does not give us enough information and the illustrator adds details that we don't know about. Here is a discussion that we had about images that differ from the 'library' page. I tell my students that as long as their images comes from the text and help them understand the story, it's okay if they're different than what the illustrator created.
  • Here are my kids' completed worksheets.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Explain the task

  • "The author had some GREAT quiet places, but it's your turn to think of your own special place."
  • "On the back of your paper, you need to choose a place and some figurative language that describes it.  Draw an image. "
  • "What are some quiet places that you can imagine?  What are some things in that quiet place?"  Here are the ideas that we listed on the board.


Share your ideas

  • "Who would like to share their figurative language and image? Let us imagine it first while you read and then show your picture."
  • Here are 2 of my students' projects: student image 2 and student image 1


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

Students with academic challenges may need help with writing words that they hear with the figurative language. They should be able to create images, but will probably need help spelling. I usually write the words on the board for prompting.

Students with higher language should be able to identify more of the language, but also create figurative language to create and describe their own image. Challenge them to use onomatopoeia and simile.