Mentor Monday Linky, March 31: Visualization--Delightful Dancing Dinosaurs!

It is my pleasure to be linking up with Emily over at The Reading Tutor for her weekly Mentor Monday forum!  Since April starts tomorrow, and it is National Poetry Month, today's post is a celebration of one of my favorite children's books that has a rollicking, rhythmic, and poetry-like text.  It is also full of fabulously figurative language that helps children visualize or create a "movie in their minds" of what is happening in the story.  

I often encourage my second graders to "connect to text" before they read it by creating picture predictions based on a mentor sentence from the story or on the title.  Before sharing Dinosaurumpus by author Tony Mitton and illustrator Guy Parker-Rees, I ask the group what they think a "Dinosaurumpus" is and then chart their predictions.  They often come up with ideas that include the following:
  • something wild
  • a dinosaur party
  • a crazy battle between dinosaurs 
I then show them only the book cover illustration and explain that a "Dinosaurumpus" is a dinosaur "dance!"  This information always garners a great reaction of mixed curiousity and hilarity, and they often exclaim in unison, 
"Mrs. R., dinosaurs didn't dance!"  

My response to that is always, "But how do you KNOW that?  You weren't around in prehistoric times!  Maybe they put on their boogie shoes and had their own Dancing With The Dinosaur Stars contests?!"  I then encourage them to imagine what their favorite dinosaurs would look like while dancing, and distribute a storyboard frame so they can sketch and color the ideas they "see" or imagine in their minds of what dancing dinosaurs would look like.

Once their visualization pictures are complete, I share the story with great expression and movement.  It truly lends itself well to a "retro"-style of read aloud!  Think Twist and Shout  by The Beatles, and Hound Dog by Elvis Presley  (with a little bit of Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis) thrown in for good measure!  Each page introduces a new type of prehistoric creature, along with wonderfully alliterative and rhymed verses that are full of onomatopoeia and action words!

The story reveals how dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes come together to participate in quite a spectacle of fancy footwork.  The alliterative, repetitive, and rhythmic opening chorus sets the tone and builds suspense for the rockin' and rollin' fun to come....

There's a quake and a quiver
and a rumbling around.
It makes you shiver.
It's a thundery sound.

Shake, shake, shudder...
near the sludgy old swamp.
The dinonsaurs are coming,
Get ready to romp.

Each dinosaur in the story demonstrates a different dance move that your students will enjoy acting out and making sound effects for.  This book is definitely well-suited for a Reader's Theater or choral reading presentation!  Students will be eager to stomp, thwack, twist, spin, swing, jump, zoom, snap, and rattle their way through Dinosaurumpus!  

After reading, I ask students to enhance the visualization story boards they sketched earlier by adding details they learned about dancing dinosaurs from the story.  I also provide response pages with some of my favorite sentences from the story for them to choose from and illustrate. My plan for this year's Dinosaurumpus activities is for the group to use their visualization sheets and create a hallway mural of dancing dinosaurs, and create new story verses of their own based on other dinosaurs they like.

Be be sure to check out the fun carousel at the end of this post that features more of my favorite poetic picture books!  You will need to scroll to the right to find the buttons to make it be a "merry-go-round!"  If you click on each picture, it will display the Amazon link.  I own all of these books, and can assure you that my students  absolutely love to read them over and over again, I earned these companion audio discs with bonus points from Scholastic many moons ago, and my class also often asks to listen (and chant along) to them during our snack or transition times!  

Fluency practice at it's finest folks!  All of these book selections are rich in figurative language and lend themselves well to visualization before, during, and after reading.

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog!  I hope that you read or found something new and useful that will help make learning engaging and fun for your students.  Continue to teach your children well, share your story, and hold a song in your heart!


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