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My best lesson - When a picture is worth a thousand words

Visual art is an important and meaningful way in which children can express themselves, but it is often underrated by teachers. This is a shame. Art is another form of language and it gives students an opportunity to excel in a different medium. Children who are unable to communicate their thoughts in writing can achieve great success by presenting their ideas through art.

My best lesson is for seven-year-olds. It combines art and language using the Hairy Maclary series of children's books by Lynley Dodd, and it can be taught in three 30-minute sessions. Here's how:

Session 1

- Read a Hairy Maclary book to the children and discuss the characters and pictures with them.

- Talk about the personality of each dog and which character they like the best.

- Ask the children if they would like to add any other characters and why.

- Ask the children to draw, then write, their own books on A4 paper, beginning with an illustrated title page. Use the Hairy Maclary book covers as a guide.

Sessions 2 and 3 l The emphasis should be on drawing the story in sequence first and adding text later, if the child wishes to.

- If a child has drawn the whole story in pictures without accompanying text, ask them to tell the story to their friends or to the rest of the class.

- Children who have written accompanying text can read their story to the class or group.

- Laminate the finished works and bind them into book form. An easy method is to punch holes in the pages and tie together with string.

- Hang the completed books in the classroom for individual reading.

Barbara Wilson is a supply teacher in New Zealand.

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