|Exercising Language Skills by Describing an I
Spy Scene |
A good way for
children (especially budding young writers) to practice their
language skills and put their vocabulary into action is by
describing a scene that includes a lot of detail and activity. What
could be better than using one of Walter Wick's photographs! For
some great scenes with people, action, and interesting objects, open
up the latest
I Spy book, I Spy Treasure Hunt. Pages 10–11 feature a
town square filled with people taking pictures, in-line skating,
riding bikes, and walking on the sidewalk. Make sure your children
focus on the details, and use lots of new vocabulary words to
describe what they see.
Of course, a great
story might come out of these descriptions as well! I Spy
photos are great story starters. As you page through I Spy Treasure
Hunt, you will notice that the pictures and riddle rhymes tell
a story about a search for buried treasure. Similarly, the pages
of I Spy Spooky Night describe a visit to a creepy old house,
complete with secret doors, missing keys, and a tricky skeleton!
Walter Wick has told these stories using pictures. Now have your
kids tell the stories in words.
Wood Block City Perspective
In the I Spy
School Days book and the you can find a
city constructed of wood blocks, pencils, and other items. Not only
is it a lot of fun to create a similar city in your classroom or
play area, but a three-dimensional "map" like this can be a very
useful tool for developing a young child's sense of perspective.
Build your city on a desk or small table, where children can easily
move around and see it from different angles. Make sure to include
lots of little items and details — people too! Then play I Spy!
Children will have to move around to different sides of the city
in order to find certain items. As a further challenge, pick a toy
person, place it in the city, and have the children play I Spy
from the toy person's perspective. What items can the toy see? What
items can't it see? Where would the toy have to go to be able to
see certain items?
To get lots of
use out of your wood block city, have your children make maps of
it on paper, including all the landmarks, the streets, people's
houses, etc. Teach them how to give directions to a toy person trying
to get from one part of the city to another.
About Literature Through I Spy Fantasy
of the photos in I Spy Fantasy provide great settings for stories.
They can also be a catalyst for a lesson on literature. Start with
the photo on pages 10–11. Use this picture to discuss the difference
between fantasy and reality-based stories. What are the fantastic
elements in this picture? (Hint: do frogs really play golf?) What
elements would you really find in the woods?
Next, turn to pages
20–21. Ask your children what is going on in this picture. Then
discuss setting: where is this taking place, and when? Have your
children point out the objects in the photo that don't quite fit
with their description of the setting. Does the surfer girl fit?
What about the bulldozer? Why or why not? (It will be interesting
to see how your children CAN make the items fit, using their imagination!)
There are at least
two stories going on in the photo on pages 32–33: a story within
a story. First, there is the story of the child who built this diorama
in his/her room. (Is it a school project? Is the child a budding
artist?) Within that story, there is the story in the diorama itself:
Who is on that train? Where are they going? What about the people
on the cliffs? Can your children find other examples of a "story
within a story" in other I Spy pictures, or in their
Finally, you can
establish the distinction between nonfiction and fiction by asking
older children to write a story inspired by one of the pictures
in the book, AND to write an essay about the book (what it made
them think or feel; how it was done). Ask them to explain the difference
between the two assignments. What did they do differently? Which
one did they prefer?
Many Is a Million?
Looking at pages
from one of the I Spy
books, children might think there are a million objects in the
pictures. Are there a million? Have the children count the objects
in a picture, then count the pictures in each book. How many I
Spy books would it take to reach one million objects?
Take this idea
further by asking children whether there are a million objects in
your classroom or play area. Are there a million objects in the
school/home? How many schools or houses would you need to find a
million things? How many apples would you have to eat every day
to eat a million in 10 years? Are there a million children in the
school? How many schools would you need to bring together in order
to get a million kids? This is a great way to exercise basic math
skills, and introduce new ones!
For more ideas
on how to teach "a million," see The Magic of a Million
Activity Book, by David M. Schwartz and David J. Whitin, published
by Scholastic Professional Books.
Spend your days outside and enjoy
the weather, by making your I Spy pictures outdoors, using themes
such as nature or sports. Here are some ideas:
Spy Take your kids on a hike in a park or forest. Make it
their "mission" to find objects on a predetermined nature
theme. (This is a good activity for an introductory botany or ecology
unit.) They can gather objects, or just call out their riddles,
using everything they see as their "picture."
Spy When recess rolls around, use the blacktop, sporting
equipment, and some chalk to make a picture riddle like the one
in I Spy School Days
Beach I Spy Make your own beach picture. Collect shells, seaweed, beach toys,
driftwood, whatever you find around the beach. The sand is a perfect
backdrop to a fun-in-the-sun picture riddle.
Aqua I Spy
Here's a fun one. Find things that float (and won't get ruined by
water). Use a sink, bathtub, or kiddie pool as your "canvas."
Here you will face some fun and interesting challenges as you try
to get your picture just right. The results will be well worth it!
Spy For a lot of us, "going outside" means hitting
the streets. If this is the case for your kids, use chalk, and objects
like bottlecaps, coins, and rocks to make a great I Spy on
your street or sidewalk.
Of course, to keep
these wonderful creations forever, you will need to bring along
a camera. Make sure there's a lot of light, and try to get the camera
as far above the "picture" as you can. But the fun is
really in the creating, so a camera isn't required. Whatever you
do, enjoy the fun and fresh air!
Spy... The Room!
everything in your classroom/playroom and play I Spy! This
game is especially good for vocabulary building in young children
and ESL students. First, have your children create eye-catching, easy-to-read
labels for all the objects in the room. Children will enjoy labeling
everything, even the floor, the ceiling, doors, windows, and chalk.
Then give your kids a chance to roam around the room, picking objects
to include in their I Spy riddle rhymes. As a special twist,
ask children to draw the objects in the rhymes, instead of using the
words. This will help build the relationship between words and pictures/objects
in their minds. Finally, let the children exchange and solve each