Picture day was the bane of my existence all throughout school, and continues still today because I’m a teacher. It all started with my kindergarten picture day, when I was rocking some 80s bangs. My mom had warned me not to let the photographers use those cheap little combs on my hair for two very important reasons: 1) HEAD LICE (squeal!) and 2) No one wanted their bangs ruined in the 80s. Guess what? They grabbed me and combed my bangs before I could even protest. I was incredibly mad and really disappointed, and it shows in my photo — arms crossed, frowny face, HORRIBLE BANGS.
Since being a teacher, I’ve learned to love using picture day as a learning experience, and have tied tons of academic standards to texts focused on this topic. This year, I added a new title to my picture day book list from Scholastic Reading Clubs: Picture Day Perfection. Love it or hate it, picture day is a big event for your students. Use this story and others (read on), as a way for your students to personally connect with and learn about the concepts of visualization, text connections, narrative writing, and citing text evidence.
Picture Day Perfection is the perfect title for text connections for many reasons. To start, every student can connect personally with the happenings of picture day. Making text-to-self connections with this story is a snap from the first page to the last. Students will be connecting with the routines, feelings, and events of the entire story.
Text-to-text connections are also a breeze with this text, because it’s a great match for other awesome titles such as Bedhead and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Using Venn diagrams, T-charts and more, students can connect, compare, and contrast these stories.
Picture Day Perfection is an ideal text for visualization practice and extensions, as are its connecting texts listed above. Before reading, take different small excerpts from the text and provide them to groups or individuals to review. Having no prior knowledge about the content of the text or coordinating illustrations means students truly have to rely on only the text provided to create their mental images.
Ask students to use the small chunk of text to create a drawing of their visualization, using only the words provided as basis for their illustration. Once drawing is finished, students should highlight the key words in the text and then label the details in their drawings that are direct reflections of the text.
Last, have students compare drawn mental images with students who have the same text passages, then combine the whole class and have them sequence their text chunks as they think the story unfolds. Have fun reading the entire book aloud to the class, and then discuss the actual sequence of the story as well as how similar or different their mental images were in comparison to the actual illustrations.
Watch your kids crank out awesome, hilarious narratives filled with juicy details and explicit descriptive writing that will paint mental images for their readers with this text! After experiencing visualization with this text themselves, they’ll be better able to create the same effect in their own writing. Using your camera or cool iPad app for filmstrip photos, snap shots of your kiddos faking a “bad picture day” moment. They LOVE this. Have them mess their hair up, make their clothes look sloppy, and have the worst faces EVER in the photos you snap.
Then, have your students map out what happened throughout picture day to lead up to such an awful photo. Tell them to work backwards from their final (terrible) photographs and imagine the events that took place leading up to that tiny moment. They can use the three mentor texts (Picture Day Perfection, Bedhead, and Alexander…) for inspiration, but shouldn’t copy the events in those stories. Their narratives are sure to make you chuckle and bring the best out of your students’ (fake) worst picture days!
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