In Pictures and In Words–Ch. 7 Ideas and Content

In Part 2, of this book, Katie Wood Ray begins to get into the “meat” of the illustrative techniques!  This section is all about looking at illustrations with “new eyes.”

She will break the techniques into 5 different categories, and over the course of the next few weeks, we will explore techniques within those categories.  The categories are:

1. Ideas and Content

2. Precision and Detail

3. Wholeness of Text

4. Tone

5. Layout and Design

Ray explains each technique in a predictable format each time.  You can read in more detail how she does this over at Mrs. Wills blog.  But, I will say that I love how she tells us exactly what kids need to look for (what we need to tell them), and how to say it.  Sometimes it is difficult to figure out the write words to explain something.

Here are the techniques for ideas and content in chapter 7:

1. Crafting with Distance Perspective

2. Crafting with Positioning Perspective

3. Crafting the Background

4. Showing Two Sides of a Physical Space

5. Using Scenes to Show Different Actions

6. Using Scenes to Capture the Passage of Time

7. Using Scenes to Show Movement Through Different Places

8. Using Scenes as a List

9. Showing, Not Telling

10. Crafting a “backstory”

11. Manipulating Point of View for Effect

12. Seeing Through the the Eyes of a Narrator

Wow.  That’s 12 mini-lessons just in 1 chapter!  As I was reading I found myself thinking of books and their illustrations in such a new way!  Now many of these techniques might be a little tricky for our little K babies – since many of them are still struggling to draw a house or a person.  But, with enough modeling, and pointing out these techniques as we read books throughout the day (not just during writer’s workshop), when they are ready, they will start to try new techniques.

So, I’m just going to point out a few books that I thought about as I read. I really wish I had my classroom library at home, but for now, my home library will have to do!

Technique #9: Showing, Not Telling

My 5 year old daughter ADORES this book.  I know she dreams of I day that I will say YES to everything!

The illustrations are bright and vibrant, and there are very little words – the illustrations really tell the story.  She didn’t completely understand the book the first time we read it, and I had to guide her through the illustrations, but after a few times, she got it….and we have to read it every night.

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Technique #2: Crafting with Positioning Perspective 

I love how the illustrator shows the little entomologist going way down to the ground to peek at the insects.

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Technique # 6: Using Scenes to Capture the Passage of Time

Yes! It’s okay to use one book over and over!  This in essence creates a mentor text for your kiddos.  They begin to know the book so well! This is a great example of passage over time.



Technique #1: Crafting with Distance Perspective


Can you see that the kitty is close up and the little white rabbit is far away?

Cheryl over at Primary Graffiti has created some fantastic posters to correspond with the techniques in Chapter 7.  Be sure to stop by her blog to grab them!

Now, stop back on over to Mrs. Wills blog and link up your thoughts for chapter 7 and enter to win a $25 gift certificate to the Clever School Teacher!

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

ABC Come Learn With Me!

abc come learn with me

I am super excited to start this new series!  There are SO many fun ways to learn the alphabet (and it IS important that it is fun!), that I have decided to devote an entire series to it.  As I come across great ideas, whether they are from blogland, from colleagues, or my own ideas, I will showcase them right here! Be on the lookout for the icon above!

This week, I have a freebie for you! It’s a fun game called AlphaBears.  You will just need to click on the image below to download!


All that you will need to do is print out the AlphaBears, laminate them, and glue or tape them onto popsicle sticks.  You could glue them back to back or make sticks for both uppercase and lowercase letters.

There are 2 fun songs that you can sing with the AlphaBears


The first song is just to practice letter id.  Simply pass out a letter bear to each student, sing the song and say the letter you are looking for.  You could laminate this page and use a dry-erase marker to write the letter in the box, or you could use a magnetic letter and a cookie sheet.

For the second song, you are practicing letter sounds!

You can use the letter bears in a variety of ways – you can pass them out and use them for calling kids to the easel for Daily News, for lining up, dismissal and so on!

You could also have the kids line up in ABC order.


Have fun!  Let me know how this game works for you!

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In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1-6

And we’re off……!

Thank you for joining us on this adventure!  I hope that during this book study  you either 1. nod your head in agreement, thinking “I do that!” or 2. Say, “I had no idea”, or even say, 3. “I think I’ll try that!”  Or you might say….no way, I can’t do that!! But, I tell you this lady, Katie Wood Ray, has written a few books about teaching writing to the littlest ones, and I think she’s figured it out!  So, if you haven’t stepped outside of your comfort zone for writing….now is your chance!  (I can tell you already, that I’ve already thought 2 of those things!)

So, if you haven’t already checked in with Deedee…click below on her button for the chapter summaries:

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

I’ve always been a firm believer that children can (and should) start writing on the VERY FIRST DAY of Kindergarten.  Stop the presses.  I know that you’re thinking that Jimmy can’t even hold a pencil, and Susie colors on her face, and Johnny is EATING the crayons.  It’s okay….take a deep breath, and remember…..they are FIVE.

Writing to a 5 year old is DRAWING.  They express their words through their sweet, adorable drawings!

Remember these two things….

1. Most children love to draw.  Give them the tools and they’ll figure out what to do.

2. Many children have drawn pictures before they have come to school.  It might look like scribbles, or it might be a drawing that you can decipher, but many have prior knowledge about drawing.

Think you are ready?  Let’s start with the guiding questions from the bookmark.

How might you explain to students that illustrating is

As I mentioned above, writing to a 5 year old is their drawings.  When you take the time to listen, they know what each of the parts of their drawing is all about…


“This is my spaceship and we are going to go inside of it”

If I hadn’t taken the time to ask what this story was about, I would have been VERY confused.  I see people, maybe a sun, and some circles.  But this little guy had a story to tell, and he did it through his illustrations.


Using picture books as models helps our littlest writers understand that what they are doing is right! And we know that they want to please us.  Kids have so much to say, and being able to say it on paper empowers them. “…being able to represent meaning in illustrations makes so much more possible for beginning writers” (p. 10)

Here is another “Katie-ism” that I starred:

“Children understand that when they make books, they’re not drawing instead of writing, and they haven’t been asked to make picture books because they don’t yet know how to write.  They’ve been asked to draw pictures to make meaning – along with words – because that’s what makers of picture books do.

What do we do EVERY DAY in school? Read picture books.  It’s what kids know and what kids love.  Many of us start off school with texts that have high interest illustrations and few words on each page, right?  Those little kiddles can’t sit for long…

So, think about

Even if we just looked at the pictures in these books instead of reading the words, could we find meaning? Yep.  Your students can do the same.

Another Katie-ism:

“But to get at the really deep work, teachers must look at children’s illustrating not as an afterthought or simply the means to another, more important end.  To get at the really deep composition work, teachers must understand illustrating in this way – as composition” (p. 17)

How might your attitude towards writing affect your
students’ willingness to write?

Everything in Kindergarten is so NEW.  Don’t you just love how a new box of crayons look, the shiny pink erasers on the pencils, and a basket of markers with lids all clicked on tight.

Just like lining up in a line to go to lunch is new, so is the idea of Writer’s Workshop.  If we go in saying, “here’s a piece of paper and a pencil,  get started….” cries of “teacher, teacher” will soon follow. 

If we approach writer’s workshop as something new and exciting, a chance for children to tell their stories, a chance where they can draw whatever they want….if our enthusiasm and excitement is TRULY there (they can sniff out a faker a mile away!)…our children will be excited too!

I think this book:

goes GREAT with Ray’s book.  Horn and Giacobbe remind us that many children have not had the opportunity to listen to or even tell their own stories.  I know it’s sad, but we all know it’s true.  Inviting children to first tell their stories orally builds the excitement of getting it down on paper.  “They are valued for themselves, for using the words they have to say what they know” (Horn & Giacobbe, p. 15).

Allowing them to make the connections between their oral stories and the stories that our favorite author’s tell, helps them to understand that they can be writer’s too.  Their stories are important and they are valued.

How might you help students build stamina in their writing?

How do we get kids to work for 30-45 minutes every day? We Take……………………………………….slow.

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Let’s be honest, at the beginning of the year, it’s best to not expect much, right?  Ten minutes max.  We want kids to be EXCITED about writing every day, if we let them write for too long because they’re quiet and working…(I know a little bit of quiet at the beginning of the year is so NEEDED), then there is nothing to WANT.  Just like your favorite TV series….they kind of leave you hanging, right?  We want our kids to come back to school wanting MORE!  I stop when they’re all engaged and really working hard….when groans and sighs of “Can we write a little longer….” are heard.   The children will still be excited to write the next day, and we can sloooowly increase the time as their stamina builds. 

You can also think of in terms of those Couch to 5K running programs.  I’m on about week 4.  I run 5 minutes at a time now, while on day 1, I only ran for 1 minute.  Could I have run for 5 minutes on day 1? Probably, but I probably would not be wanting to run the next day!

As I was reading, I tried to think of some books that I have at home that have amazing illustrations.  Three that are my VERY favorites are by Kevin Henkes:

I love the emotion and expression in these illustrations.  (This is my favorite book!!)




I love how the colors change with each season.


And, really how can you start a study of illustrations without meeting the beloved little guy dressed in blue.  My friend, Harold:

If you haven’t picked up your copy of In Pictures and In Words, get it now! You’ll be able to catch up.  It is a quick read, I promise you’ll love it!

I think I have a problem….


How many baskets/buckets/totes/storage containers does one teacher need? I need a storage container for my storage containers.  It’s a good thing I have a storage room.  Ugh.