In celebration of Chinese New Year, the students from my
highly diverse classroom read descriptions of the various lunar
symbols and completed a prewriting activity comparing and
contrasting themselves to their particular symbol, i.e. the Year
of the Dragon, the Year of the Snake, etc.
In our reading groups, we had been looking at an author’s
use of figurative language. We
then revisited our prewriting activity, applied what we learned
about figurative language, and turned our comparisons into poetry.
This poetry accompanied a three dimensional representation
of that animal students made out of papier-mâché.
student writes in a variety of forms for different audiences and
The student understands elements of literature – fiction.
The student communicates through the arts.
will use their prewriting activity as the basis for writing
will create a three dimensional representation of their animal on
which to publish their poem.
books of poetry/stories/legends
materials: Papier-mâché materials (newspapers, flour/water
substance such as modge-podge or gesso paint
Six class sessions
help students recall the use of figurative language, students work
in pairs reading and researching stories/myths/poetry of their
lunar animal and identify the figurative language used.
Students select three examples and further explain and
develop the figurative language used. I.e.:
very small mosquito glared at me with rather large confused
– mosquitoes don’t glare but it conveys the feeling it must
have had when caught. T
sand sticking to your wet skin, they don’t let go.”
– describing how lice sling to your head.
Session 2: (45 minutes)
use the ideas in their prewriting activity on their lunar symbol
to create their own figurative language.
Model for students how this is done using student work as
then create a poem using the figurative language derived from
their prewriting activity.
A poem describing the lunar animal
A poem of conversation with the lunar animal
A poem of direct comparison/contrast with
A poem in which the student becomes the
For students who long to rhyme and who have
access to the Internet, there are some great rhyming dictionaries
on line, just type in “rhyming dictionary” into your search
Session 3: (45 minutes)
revise and edit their work with a peer.
Model this process with students first using actual student
draw a design (actual scale, which we have practiced in math) for
their three dimensional piece keeping in mind they will be
publishing their poem directly on it.
students may choose to create a mask, some the body of the animal.
Determine which the students will be doing before going on
to the next session so materials can be ready, i.e. the materials
for the mask or the armature for the animal.
4 and 5: (90 minutes total)
create the armature for their piece and begin to lay on the
will need two separate sessions so one layer can dry before
applying the second layer. Armature can be made from balled up
newspaper that has been taped into shape, pipe cleaners can also
be used to form a spine for a structure, bendable wire is another
option, balloons for masks, or paper plates for masks.
Starch and white glue make a good paste for the papier-mâché.
It dries quickly and gives a good solid surface.
between drying and painting, find time to go over each piece
quickly with modge-podge or gesso. These substances, while
optional, give a good painting surface.
6: (45 minutes or as long as you have)
paint their piece, add decorations and “publish” their poetry.
Publishing their poetry right on the piece can be tricky
(no mistakes!) so students may wish to publish it on something
else and set it so to accompany their piece.
project is one where students must remain on track or it will go
on and on. If time
allows, it is best to have two painting sessions so paint can dry
before details are added. Many
students went back to their poetry after the animal was made,
further revising and editing.
It was incentive to make what they had already written even