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Creating Mental Images

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.


  1. LOVE this idea/activity! I'm going to use it in my 1st grade classroom!

  2. Great activity! I love the poem, haven't seen this one before. Will share it with my Kinders after spring break!

  3. Cute! The first grade team at my school uses My monster to teach visualization in a similar way. How fun. In 3rd grade I use Bedhead!


  4. That is such a fun poem! What a fabulous idea, I'm going to try it with my kinders.

  5. I always start with poems too. I can't wait to use this one!!

  6. This turned out darling and is such a great tool to becoming a vibrant writer!
    Curls and a Smile

  7. Perfect for "Poetry Month"! I can't wait to try it with my first graders!
    ~Michelle FirstGradeBest

  8. Thanks for sharing this great idea! I will be using it with my students soon!

  9. SO adorable!!! I'm going to do this with my kinders this week! Thank you soooo much for sharing your wonderful ideas!!!! =)

  10. I love this activity! I am going to plan to do this with my class after we get back from Spring Break! You have the best ideas and they are so cute too!


  11. Will you be creating a farm unit too?

  12. What a wonderful poem. I love the activity too, and I'm looking forward to reading more about your mental images unit (I hope).

  13. Such a great idea...thank you for sharing! I love the ideas you post here on your blog and your website.

  14. I will definitely try this with my kinders this week! Thank you for sharing!!! Do you have any poems or short stories you use for ocean animals?



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