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Write Like an Author!

Children learn how authors use words as tools to create visual imagery in this colorful introduction to similes and metaphors.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Ask students what tools a carpenter might use to build a house. Then ask what tools an artist uses. And what about an author? His tools are few - some paper and ink, but mainly words.
    2. Have students form several small groups. Give each group the same set of ten or twelve words including enough different parts of speech that it will be possible for them to form at least one sentence. Invite each group to write a sentence using as many of the words as they like. When they are finished ask them to read their sentences aloud. Are any the same? Most will probably be different. Did some use a word like "smile" as a noun while others used the same word as a verb? Discuss how a jumble of words can have many different meanings depending upon how they are put together. Explain that this is what authors do, they simply arrange words in various ways to make meaning. The magic is in how they arrange them.
    3. Next, provide each student with the following list of words: RIBBON, ROSE, SUN, TIME, TELL. Ask them to each write a sentence using as many of these words as possible as well as any other words they would like to add to create a sentence. Invite them to read their sentences aloud. How different are they? How similar? Tell them that a famous poet named Emily Dickinson once used these words to describe a sunrise. Read the following sentence aloud: "I'll tell you how the sun rose, a ribbon at a time." What was she comparing the sun's rays to? Ask students to close their eyes and picture this scene. Invite a few to describe how they might illustrate it.
    4. Authors often describe one thing by comparing it to something else just as Emily Dickinson did. Ask each student to think of something they would like to describe. Then ask them to list things they could compare it to. For example: A smile is like - sunshine on a cloudy day a yellow flower opening in May a light in the window at night
    5. Provide time for them to share their ideas with others and refine or edit as they wish. Invite each to pick a favorite comparison to illustrate.
    6. Invite them think about what medium might work best for this particular illustration. Distribute white paper and provide access to Crayola® Watercolors, Crayola Colored Pencils, Crayola Markers and any other Crayola products that are available.
    7. When everyone is finished, invite students to discuss possible to exhibit their work. What would be a good title for the exhibit? What would they like viewers to learn from it? Should they include a panel of explanatory information or individual artist's statements?
  • Standards

    LA: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

    VA: Analyze components in visual imagery that convey messages.

    VA: Create personally satisfying artwork using a variety of artistic processes and materials.

  • Adaptations

    Rather than having students write their own comparison, create a collection of quotations from famous poetry or prose that include strong similes and metaphors. Allow students to each select one of these to illustrate.

    If some students wish to incorporate three dimensional materials in their illustrations encourage them to do so. This will add texture and interest to their compositions.

    Encourage students to look for literary comparisons in the books they are reading independently.

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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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