A while back I was introduced to the book Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. The illustrations in the book are – you guessed it – the actual size of the creature being described. That makes it a wonderfully engaging and interesting book for children of all ages – and for anyone just learning English, the images are captivating enough to convey plenty of meaning.
I was asked to do a lesson in a grade 2 classroom in Richmond. The school was working onstrategies for non-fiction reading, and I was to focus on the strategies of visualizing and asking questions. We read the book together, talking about the images the children made (the pictures in my head) and the questions we had (what I wonder about). After reading and exclaiming :O at the illustrations for a while, I gave each child a card with a picture of one of the creatures and small bit of text on it. I asked them to look at their card, to read the text and then to do 2 things: to draw the picture they had in their head and to write one question they had about the image. Not surprisingly, every single question the kids had about the creatures was mathematical in nature, and their questions inspired many many math lessons after that day… I’ve used the book in intermediate classrooms as well, where the notions of proportional reasoning and scale come in nicely!
I’ve been asked to include the Actual Size fact cards in this post so that others can try this task. I’ve summarized, in kid-friendly language, one fact about the animal on each the card and included (in METRIC) some information about the creature’s length, weight or height. Feel free to download them, understanding that they are drawn from Steve Jenkins’ work and should be credited to him. The file is very very big…!
Let me know how it goes in using these cards and this wonderful book!