My students and I have been working on word maps. We’ve been taking a close look at words and how writers use words and how writers have certain words that live in their souls and they try to give voice to those words, making pictures to bring the readers into their intimate world.
We started by reading some poetry and sorting through the words to see how many were sensory words, action words, abstract words and then just plain fun words. Then we made
lists of abstract words that we liked and we tried to come up with a big list, so we shared with each other and borrowed the words we liked in common and added them to our own list.
Once we had a good list, we contemplated it. We wrote about it. We talked about it. We
spent a good deal of time deciding which one word would we like to try to represent, to make real for everyone else coming into our word world. Then, the harder work began as we made lists of sixteen words for
each of the five senses that related to our abstract word. We added ten action words to represent our abstract word and then along with the abstract word, we added free words of our choice to equal a hundred words. This took a lot of time and more sharing and our brains were strained by the process.
Now, we had to think of a picture that would give life to our abstract word and build it with the hundred words. The results took my breath away. My word was JOY, and I decided to build joy as a Christmas tree. I loved the results even though my students say it looks more like a peacock. Wonderful stuff! Try it.