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.

DSCN0391 IMG_3602 IMG_3598

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!


  1. I just love your comments. I was so excited to see the Little White Rabbit book I have that book and I didn't have a good lesson for it! Yeah! The Old Bear looks adorable. Thanks for sharing.

    The Very Busy Kindergarten

  2. I! Love! It! Kathleen! I couldn't agree more. I also love the other professional book you mentioned. They go together so beautifully. Thank you my dear friend!

  3. Thanks for sharing the wonderful book choices!

  4. What a great post and such great ideas and things to think about! I think I had better get this book now that I see how wonderful it is through your post.
    I can't wait to meet you in Vegas!!!!

  5. Thanks for suggesting Think, Write, Share--I'm ordering both books from Amazon the minute I finish typing this!!
    Karen :o)
    Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten

  6. I love your analogy to training for a 5K! When I saw Little White Rabbit I thought of Runaway Bunny...I love both books!!

    Owl Things First

  7. I've been studying "Talking, Drawing, Writing" too! I agree it meshes perfectly with "In Pictures and In Words" Yay!!

  8. What a wonderful post! I have the book in my Amazon cart and it is getting ordered right after I write this note! I totally agree with all you are saying. I have always believed in writing from day one and my kids always LOVE writing. Starting on day one really helps get the kids see they are writers and helps set up that atmosphere in the classroom. They would write all day of they could! Thanks for post!

  9. I loved reading your post and I totally agree - cut them off before they get bored.....They'll come back wanting more.....and that is a kinder teacher's dream! :0)

    I look forward to reading more!
    Kindergarten Lifestyle

  10. I have been reading "Talking, Drawing, Writing" too. I know in this book it mentions going through the process of storytelling first. How would you go about having the kids write on the first day of school by meshing both Katie's book and Talking, Drawing, Writing? Thanks so much for all of your suggestions! I am curious as to know you start off your year!

  11. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Katie Wood-Ray!!! My students (and I) have never enjoyed writing so much!! This past year we used Giaccobe's book as our focus and I floundered; I really struggled to fit the two together because Giaccobe's focus was on the narrative. Thanks for making connections for me!!

  12. You are spot on...I agree with everything you say!! I have only read the first four chapters (I am trying to catch up!!) but already I love Katie Wood Ray. As Kindergarten teachers at the beginning of the year, we all begin writing with pictures. Katie Wood Ray reminds us that this is what we should expect from 5yr olds in September. I can't wait to read the next two chapters!

  13. Fantastic post!! I've wondered about the book, "Talking, Drawing, Writing." Another great resource I'm missing out on. And "Harold's Purple Crayon." That would be a great book to use. Zoom in!

  14. I read "Talking, Drawing, Writing" when it first came out. It opened my eyes to the power of DRAWING and how important it is to the young child - the New Writer/Reader. Older students can write down key words or phrases to remind them of points they want to make in their writing - or even make an outline. But the Young Writer can't do that yet. They use DRAWING to organize their thoughts. When they learn to draw more details in their picture, they are training their brain to expand it's view which will help them to include details in their writing later on. When they see how much more interesting a fully developed picture is compared to a single drawing of a person 'floating in mid-air' on the paper, they'll recognize that in their writing, too.

    In kindergarten, we almost never do any writing without drawing first. It IS part of the Writing Process!

    Giving our students Directed Drawing lessons is important as well. Just as we instruct them with handwriting, we need to give them the opportunity to develop the confidence to draw something difficult by breaking it down into smaller pieces. Finding "how-to-draw-a-castle/penguin/cat" (whatever) instructions is easy - just google it. "I" am not an artist but I can follow a 5-step direction of how to draw a simple fish! So can anyone - that's all a young child needs. In doing so, they learn to use the positional vocabulary we all use while demonstrating, they'll increase their focus to task ('cuz they want to draw it!), stamina, AND start to see objects in a different way.

    Directed Drawing lessons just opens the door to drawing for them! Teachers will see their skills increase all year long - which means they'll put more detail in their pictures - which means they'll be THINKING about details - which will transfer into their writing.

  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. Totally caught the bug last winter and implemented it within my classroom. I cant wait to see how I can better manage the management of the system this coming year w/ 6 more kids in my classroom! The paper end of it was amazing -- however the work was OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD!

    I made the connection to her writing that are you writing a sticky note a journal entry w/ no meaning each day yea writing is BORING then, BUT, if you can tell and develop a story you have the world by the tail! Teaching students the curriculum of time ....LOVE!

    Need more time to go read everyone's thoughts!! LOVE!

  16. Here is the link to my blog w/ my responses/ comments. Thanks! Loved seeing your examples & hearing your take on the book!