TEDxKids@NBCC Journal Entry 2: Illustrative Language.


In our second class in the TEDxKids@NBCC series (leading to a TEDxKids@NBCC event on 2/17/12), we ventured into the world of illustrative language while continuing to get the kids to stand up and talk.  To see where we started this journey, visit here.

So today we planned three exercises that moved the focus entirely to the kids with the following goals:

A. Get them to realize how colorful, illustrative language can help bring a story to life

B. Have them spontaneously describing different images and scenes

C. Keep them on their feet and talking in front of the group (if not always facing them!).

We started by showing two images of a bed: a plain bed first, then added the “made” bed next to it, and asked them to share different words that described each.  The exercise was more lively than I thought.  I first took nominations of words from the crowd, but then made each kid stand up and share their descriptions.  The end game was to understand that their stories need to be ‘dressed up’ like a comfy, unique, bouncy, snuggling, soft, cow-decorated bed.  That the boring, white, wooded bed doesn’t make as interesting a story.



Then next we took the beautiful TEDxSF video from and showed the last four minutes without sound. (Entire talk below – it’s too beautiful not to share the whole thing here!):


We played “freeze video” with the kids during the last four minutes.  We’d let it play for about 5-10 seconds then pause it (the images rotated about that often).  The child who was in front (everyone just took random turns) was then tasked with quickly describing what they saw.  By the end, most Kindergartners were not brave enough to step up (although they were watching intently), and the 1-4th graders all wanted a second turn.   The room was too dark to record the “freeze video” session so we grabbed a few still shots:

Lastly, we gave them an “activity” (I egregiously called it homework) to take one mythical image we found on the web and create a 1-2 minute story about it for next week’s class.  This is introducing thinking about what you are going to say before you say it, preparing in your mind to say it in front of your class and then “suiting up” to do so.


So far, we’ve spent just 60 minutes “in class” and about 4-5 hours total preparing various materials for the two sessions.   This week took more time to prepare because we sourced the images, printed them all out, downloaded the TEDx talk above (and actually a second one that we didn’t use), wrote out an instruction sheet for the “activity,” and had to set up a projector and computer.  All VERY easy but just took a few more logistical steps.
Most kids are still pretty engaged (remember, it is the end of the day on a Friday).  Here we see Sophie make an artistic connection to the project…I was just impressed one of them remembered to bring back their folder.