Picturing a Poem

Purpose

Visualisation is the skill of being able to create mental images while you read. The reader combines their background knowledge with the words of the poet to create mental images that enhance understanding of the text and bring the poem to life. Visualisation is not just about images we see in the mind’s eye but also engaging all the senses.

This lesson includes collaborative drawing. The talk is as important as the drawing, which is the purpose underpinning the collaborative nature of the task. The focus is on developing understanding, not a drawing lesson. 

Preparation

  • Copies of ‘Jungle Cat’ Visualisation, one per child. (Do not show the poem in the collection at this point or the note by the poet at the beginning.)
  • Copies of Painting a Picture, one per child. 
  • Copies of Moon Juice, at least one per pair.
  • Practise reading ‘Jungle Cat’ aloud to model good expression and fluency.
  • Large sheets of paper and drawing materials for collaborative drawing.

Process

Begin by reading the poem, ‘Jungle Cat’ aloud.

As you read, ask the children to close their eyes or look down to help them focus on the words being read. When you have finished reading, ask pairs:

  • Would you like to meet a jungle cat? Tell me why/why not. 
  • What impression do you get of a jungle cat from the words you heard? 

Share first responses before distributing copies of the ‘Jungle Cat’ Visualisation resource.

Distribute copies of the book and reread the poem while the children follow the text. Ask pairs: 

  • Can you describe what the jungle cat is like? 

Distribute copies of the Painting a Picture resource and introduce each subheading:

  • Things I see.
  • Sounds I hear.
  • Feelings I get.
  • Words that stick. 

Model completing the table, making it clear that responses may differ but that you are referring to the text of the poem as work through the sections. 

An example is shown below:

Things I see Sounds I hear
The jungle cat is described as fire-eyed. This makes me see orange eyes.  There are different sounds – some friendly, like the purr, and some are more bad-tempered, like hiss and yowl. This makes me think of a cat fighting. 
Feelings I get Words that stick
The jungle cat makes me feel a bit afraid and as if I wouldn’t want one near to me.  Rumble the night

Trick-tailed

Once the children have completed the grid, share responses.

Pairs should now work collaboratively to draw a picture of the jungle cat. Explain that they should share their visualisation ideas to draw the image.

 

Once complete they will swap their drawing with another pair. They should then annotate the other pair’s drawing with words and phrases from the poem. Swap back and consider the annotations made. Ask:

  • Is there anything you would now like to add to your drawing?

Final reflection

Share the illustration on page 19 and explain that this is the way that Elīna Brasliņa has visualised the jungle cat using Kate Wakeling’s words. Invite the class to comment on the differences and similarities between their pictures and the one in the book. 

Make explicit that we all visualise things differently using our background knowledge and the words of the text.