We have been studying character feelings using words in the text. This lesson teaches students how to use the illustrations, together with the text, to determine character feelings. I used Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes to introduce the skill. I referred back to the character feelings chart we had created the day before.
I explained to students that were going to identify Lilly's using evidence through the illustrations. I had made copies of two pages from the story that clearly showed Lilly’s feelings. I gave them to each student, along with a highlighter. I modeled looking at the feelings chart and looking for evidence in the story’s illustrations. I used the highlighter to show details of the illustration as I pointed it out. I modeled adding this evidence to the feelings chart.
Sample Script: Looking at the chart, I wrote Lilly is furious as she thinks about her purse that has been taken away. I can use the evidence in this illustration because it shows Lilly's eyes getting bigger and redder with these angry squiggly lines. I can tell that Lilly feels bad for what she did because the illustrations show her getting smaller and smaller and there’s a tear here.
After a few examples, students helped me identify illustrations that helped show how Lilly felt.
I had students take out their Mulan Feelings Chart from the day before. Their task was to identify evidence from the illustrations to support Mulan’s feelings. They were instructed to write this additional evidence on their chart. Students placed a transparency over the text. They used a dry erase maker to mark up the illustrations. For example, one pair of students circled Mulan’s downturned face to indicate she was feeling upset because her father had to go to war.
Students worked with the same partner from the day before in order to provide continuity in the conversations.
Students were very adept in finding subtleties in the illustrations to determine character feelings. They noticed that Mr. Slinger's (from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse) tail was up and curly when he was happy and down and straight when he was mad. I had never noticed that in all the years I have read this story to students! They even noticed that Lilly's eyebrows were down when she was unhappy. They made the same connections when reading The Ballad of Mulan.
I used a simple checklist to assess whether not students were able to use illustrations as evidence to determine character feelings. They often used the text, but I wanted to be sure they took note of the illustrations as well to find additional clues.