Creating Mental Images is one of my favorite units to teach. It gives readers a chance to interact with the text in a way that’s personal to them. We begin our unit with very simple poems and stories and gradually add stories which require them to use their schema and background knowledge to conjure up an image.
My Neighbor’s Dog is Purple is a great poem to use to begin this unit. Not only is it very simple and fun, but it also shows readers that Mental Images can change as you read.
I read the first two stanzas of the poem several times. As I read I have them close their eyes and create a Mental Image in their mind. Once I’ve read it several times I have them draw their image
Then, I read the last part of the poem and after they settle down (they love that it is a crocodile and go CRAZY) I have them draw their new Mental Image.
Close up of crocodiles. Since we just did our zoo unit last week and learned about alligators and crocodiles it was easy for them to draw the crocodile. It was so cute to hear them say things like, “I need to make sure he has his top and bottom teeth showing so he won’t look like an alligator.”
This poem is in one of his books, I think it’s from A Pizza the Size of the Sun but it is also free on the web so I’m going to post the poem here for you so that you don’t have to search for it.
My Neighbor’s Dog is Purple
My neighbor’s dog is purple,
its eyes are large and green,
its tail is almost endless,
the longest I have seen.
My neighbor’s dog is quiet,
it does not bark one bit,
but when my neighbor’s dog is near,
I feel afraid of it.
My neighbor’s dog looks nasty,
it has a wicked smile….
before my neighbor painted it,
it was a crocodile.