Friday, March 15, 2013

Mercy Watson in Motion

You've got them. I've got them. Smart teachers always have them...I'm talking about books you bought at workshops that you couldn't wait to read. Books that you know will inspire you and give you new ideas about teaching. Books that went into the stack of other things "I'll look at this summer when I get my life back." Well, I decided to dig out one of my "to do" books. 

I saw In Pictures and in Words by Katie Wood Ray when I heard the author speak at a workshop. Then it was a book study on a series of blogs I follow. Finally, I'm reading it. Here's what the publisher says about the book:

"Katie Wood Ray begins with a strong, classroom-based research foundation for this powerful, intuitive idea. She fills in In Pictures and in Words with sample student work that documents how children's thinking deepens as they explore illustrations. Then she suggests 50 ways you might use illustrations to help students internalize key aspects of craft through their love of picture books." 

So what does this have to do with the popular, beginning chapter-book series from Kate DiCamillo? Well, we have been reading the Mercy Watson books aloud and the other day one my smarties says, "What is that blue glow around Eugenia?" My brain went..ding, ding,'s a chance to use what you've been reading, silly! From that page on, my kids were fascinated with the techniques the illustrator, Chris Van Dusen, used to show motion. Look at the cover above. See the motion lines around Mercy's behind? Look at the pages below. See the yellow lines all around Eugenia's and Baby's heads? My kids said, "Yikes! What if it really looked like that when you get angry or surprised?"

Later, my kinders wrote in their journals about their favorite Mercy Watson story. Check out the motion lines in their illustrations. 
"My favorite in the Mercy Watson books is the hot buttered toast and the characters." (See the motion lines around the pig?)
"I like when she bumps her head. I like Mercy Watson books." (See the motion lines from the falling character and the stars around her head?)
"My favorite part is when Mercy eats the pansies. That was funny. I love Mercy Watson." (See the motion lines behind the pig?)
"My favorite thing was the animal control bumped her head on the table." (See the stars again?)
Now it's your turn to share. Have you read aloud this series to your class? Or have you used the ideas described in Katie Wood Ray's book? I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Great post and ideas! I got the privilege to hear Katie Wood Ray speak. Looks like I need her book now too. :)
    Conversations in Literacy

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