This book  by Joanne Ryder was recommended by some colleagues ,but as usual I had to try it out for myself.  I LOVED it. Thanks MJ and JC!

  I have used it in a couple of classrooms to teach visualizing.I am excited by how beautiful the illustrations are and the enthusiasm by which it has been met in a variety of grade levels.  I begin by explaining what visualizing is. Then I ask the children  to listen carefully while I read to them. I  tell them that I want them to picture exactly what the jaguar is doing, to listen for all the clues that the author gives us to help us think about where the jaguar is what it is hearing, tasting, seeing, smelling and feeling. I don’t show any pictures the first time I read it except the cover. (The first time I read it I masked the cover of the book and told them the title. About half way through I realized there was a lot of confusion because most of them had no idea what a jaguar was!) Background knowledge first!!! We co-construct a list of those descriptive words that help us visualize. One of my favourite comments from a grade one child was“I don’t want to see the jaguar, I want to BE the jaguar!“and a second child replied:” oh oh I am the jaguar!“” which I think  is exactly what the author intended. We re-read the book and look at the pictures. I ask the students to check and see-were they visualizing what the artist painted? Were they right? If not does it matter? This usually results in checking books and the internet to be sure who was right.

 

” You tuck your claws

 inside your paws

and walk

along the river,

leaving a trail of deep paw prints in the wet sand.”

As a follow-up lesson, I ask students to talk about another animal they would like to be. We talk about what they would hear, taste, see, smell and feel in the natural habitat of their animal. They share in small groups, telling each other what their favourite parts are. Some have gotten quite dramatic. Then we re-read the story. When we have really worked on being able to talk about it ( as per the theory of Big Writing) they write about it and illustrate the page.

Senior students enjoy this book as well -I used it in a 7/8 split and got some powerful descriptive writing which they then used in pairs to practice compare and contrast text structures.

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