Animalia, by Graeme Base, is an alphabet book that is entertaining people of all ages. And it would be a great mentor text for lessons in either alliteration or sentence building – or better yet a fun lesson that combines both!
As with many language arts skills, kids have come across both alliteration and sentence building any number of times before entering the middle grades, but combining these two skills can result in an interesting exercise that is fun and challenging for kids at many ability levels.
You would think that an alphabet book would be more for little kids, but not this ones. Animalia is a classic, loved by kids of all ages as well as adults. Each letter of the alphabet is featured in a beautiful, detailed illustration with many items beginning for readers to find. Some are in plain view and you’ll need to search for others. In addition to the pictures, an alliterative phrase presents the letter used in a creative combination of words.
As an example, the “W” page shows wasps decked out with medieval swords and shields and circling over a shoreline community. The page reads,”Wicked warrior Wasps wildly waving warlike weapons.” In the background, you see a washerwoman hanging clothes on a line next to an old-fashioned washing machine. Her laundry is about to get away from her, but a wizard is coming to the rescue, walking through her gate. Further in the background, there is the ocean with a whale and a ship wreck on the rocks. A covered wagon drives by some wigwams on the shore.
The pictures are great fun, but it’s the text that can be the lead-in to a lesson on alliteration and sentence building. Like every other page, the “W” page described above is a great mentor text for alliteration. And the phrases are just complex enough for kids to attempt to build their own examples. That “W” page was constructed of adjectives, nouns, an adverb and a verb. Many of the pages also include prepositional phrases.
Just provide some pictures as prompts, and have the kids follow the pattern from one page from Animalia, using the same parts of speech but with a beginning letter of their choice. Funny animal pictures should work well, and they’re easy to find. Below are a few that I found on Pixabay to get you started. As an example for the horse picture above, kids could write “Handsome horses happily hike through history”? Well, I’m sure you could do better, but you get the idea.
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