Visualizing Shel Silverstein

It’s National Poetry Month–and since I love Shel Silverstein’s work (and we have a good number of his books in the library), I did a mini poetry session with 3rd grade in the library last week. As an introduction, we watched “Ickle me, Pickle me, Tickle me too” (see ShelSilversteinBook’s channel on You Tube) read by Silverstein himself. My goal for this lesson, however, was for students to understand “visualization” as a comprehension strategy: Make a mental picture to help you understand text.

I adapted a great lesson about visualization from a math (yes!) site and read-aloud the following poem:


A square was sitting quietly

Outside his rectangular shack

When a triangle came down–keerplunk!–

And struck him in the back.

“I must go to the hospital,”

Cried the wounded square,

So a passing rolling circle

Picked him up and took him there.

As I read the poem, students were drawing their visual interpretations of the poem. It was interesting that a couple of students were worried about what or how to draw. I had to emphasize and re-emphasize that there is no right or wrong way and that we all form different mental images of text. The result was a very unique illustration from each student. Some focused on the shapes, some on the hospital.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

Then I shared Silverstein’s illustration with the class. As it turns out, he chose to not illustrate one part of the poem. Can you guess what is missing in Silverstein’s illustration?


(From A Light in the Attic, 1981)


One thought on “Visualizing Shel Silverstein

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s