Overview: Teaching personification through visual art using the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Grade level: 2-3
Aligned Standards: Reading and Visual Art
Personification can be a tricky concept for students. Essentially, personification is attaching human attributes to a non-human object. For example think of the images of the “man in the moon”, or the phrase “the candle is dancing in the wind”. Getting our students to not only identify when personification happens, but to actually use it in their own use of language is definitely a higher-order skill.
That’s why integrated art lesson plans work so well when trying to teach this idea. The arts can really help to make this crystal clear – particularly visual art. For today’s free arts integration lesson seed, we’re using the book Leaf Man from Lois Ehlert to connect reading and visual art standards surrounding the topic of personification.
Now…just a word on this book selection. Typically, this book is used in Kindergarten or 1st grade as the sentences are short and often times you can use the book to help with prediction: where will the leaves blow next? But in this lesson seed, I’m actually using it with 2nd and 3rd grade.
Why? Because we don’t really start to dig into the nuances of personification art and its other forms until the end of 2nd, beginning of 3rd grade. As we’ve shared before, there are many ways to extend the life of a book and this is one of them. Your 2nd and 3rd grade students will be able to see more details and pick up on the variety of ways that both the illustrations and the text highlight this concept. Plus, there are some scientific connections that you can make with leaf study (investigating the leaf veins and how they are related to the circulatory system in humans) which are better done in the older grade levels.
This is a great lesson to use as we head into the deeper fall months and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you decide to use it, please take pictures of the finished products and share them with us in the comments – we’d all love to see how it goes!
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.