Monday, April 09, 2012

Dinothesaurus

ANOTHER Excellent post from a student!
Florian, D. (2009). Dinothesauraus. New York: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing Division.



I have a confession. I have failed miserably when it comes to incorporating poetry into my curriculum. In all honesty, I could count the number of poems I have shared with my eager-to-learn second graders this year on one hand. I'm not proud of that fact either. As I've read and reflected on this week's genre, I'm convinced my neglect to share poetry with my students is because I'm not comfortable with it. I can remember not only reading poetry in middle and high school, but dissecting it to the point of it being meaningless to me. I'm promising not to let this happen to the kids I teach.

Poetry should be as enjoyable as reading an intriguing fantasy. Reading a variety of poems this week has helped me determine the above to be true. I chose to blog about Dinothesaurus this week, because I think it's a collection of poems my second graders would love. Young readers are interested in poems about animals, so I'm certain this collection will be a hit with most students.

What's makes this book of poems so great? I thoroughly enjoyed the play on words throughout the text. For example, Douglas Florian (2009) speaks about the Giganotosaurus in this way,

"When it was hungry or got into fights,
It opened its jaws and took giga-bites." (p.7)

Florian uses sense imagery throughout the book to allow the reader to connect to the poems through use of the five senses. Consider Florian's (2009) description of the Brachiosaurus, "On massive legs with knobby knees." (p.3) What else contributes to the value of this collection of poems? Florian uses similes in some poems to make comparisons. For example, "Seismosaurus: as large as a lake" (Florian, 2009, p.11), and "Tough as tanks and hard as nails" (Florian, 2009, p. 21) are two great similes used to help the reader make connections. In addition, Florian chose to use rhyme throughout the book to appeal to the reader. Consider this excerpt:

"Deinonychus had terrible claws.
Deinonychus had dangerous jaws." (Florian, 2009, p.24)

This poem has each line rhyming with the previous one. Other poems in the collection rhyme in this way:

"Some forty feet long.
Some fourteen feet tall.
Its back limbs were strong.
Its front limbs were small." (Florian, 2009, p.15)

This poem has line one and three and two and four rhyming.

In addition to the poetry, Florian uses collage art to enhance his poems, making this text a great example of a picture book. He uses collage art to depict representations of dinosaurs. Each illustration shows cuts and tears of paper used to create collage art. It also looks as if Florian used crayon to create illustrations of the dinosaurs. Students will absolutely adore the artwork in this picture book of poems.

How could this wonderful book of poems be used in the classroom to improve comprehension? I would encourage students to create mental images of the dinosaurs Florian describes. As mentioned previously, he uses sense imagery in many of his poems in Dinothesaurus. You could postpone sharing illustrations with students and have them illustrate based on the descriptions Florian gives for the dinosaurs (of course, show them the wonderful illustrations afterward).

Thoughtful questions to ponder:

Why do you think Florian chose to make some words bold print, all capital letters, and larger/smaller in text size?
Which dinosaur is your favorite? Why?
What dinosaur fact do you find most interesting? Why?
What if dinosaurs still inhabited Earth? How would that affect humanity?

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