Curriculum Connections

Connecting Your Safari to the Curriculum: Art - Page 1

Imagery: Poetry can easily be connected to art since both rely heavily on imagery. Poets use descriptive words and comparisons to draw pictures in the minds of their readers just as artists use pencils and paint to draw pictures on paper. Sometimes poets also enhance the visual impact of a poem by cleverly placing the words on the page to represent an image - again just as artists do with their chosen medium of expression.

In the poems, Kiboko
, and Muhanga, imagery is a key component. The words of the poems draw pictures in the minds of the readers. Parse up the poems and ask students what they see in their minds when they read each line. Have students draw some of these images (separate from drawing the animal itself). These images should be fun and imaginative, and as tangential as your students' imaginations allow, but they should also help students to determine which animal the poem is about. For fun, have them create new creatures by combining some of the images they have drawn. Note and discuss how similar to or how different from the actual animals these concoctions are.  This exercise might even lead to a discussion of biological/survival functions of various animal parts.

Another key component of these poems which enhances their imagery, other than specific descriptive and action words, are comparisons (similes and metaphors). In Muhanga, have students identify the comparisons and discuss how they enhance the imagery.

Have students draw a fictitious creature by drawing literally the metaphors in the first part of the poem Muhanga
and putting them in the positions of the aardvark's body parts that they are supposed to represent. Compare these creatures to a picture of an actual aardvark. This activity should be a lot of fun, but will also reinforce understanding of an important poetic and artistic device.

Related Creative Writing Idea: Have students identify specifically which words in the poems create images in their minds.  (What kinds of words are these?)  Have students choose an animal they like, then have them list words or phrases that produce images associated with the physical or behavioral characteristics of that animal.  They can use their list to write a report, a poem or a creative story telling how the animal got its parts or why it behaves the way it does.  The more creative their imagery is, the more creative their writing will be. 

Comparison is the central technique used in Mbuni
. Again, have students identify the comparisons. (More than likely they will recognize the three sports figures the ostrich is compared to, though only the hard-core cartoon watchers will know that Olive Oyl is Popeye's sometimes girlfriend. Male ostriches, by the way, can reach seven feet or taller (Shaq is 7'1"), can run 40 m.p.h., and can weigh 300+ pounds.) Again, the comparisons feed the imagery.  (Cross reference: see Mbuni in Formulaic Poem Writing Activities)

Comparison enriches the imagery of Punda Milia
, too. Have students do a 'comparison scavenger hunt.' Discuss each comparison and the images it elicits. How do the comparisons add to the tone? How do they help to draw of mental picture of the actual animal?

Draw the outline of a zebra on the board. Have students copy it quickly three times. Have students color in the outlines according to the imagery suggested in the three main stanzas (1. one half dark, one half light, 2. in checkerboard squares, and 3. in strips, like itself). For fun, allow them to use various colors. Have them draw one more zebra outline. Underneath it have them make up an original line that follows the pattern of  those in the poem: 'If  you sliced me up, arranged my parts....' (for example, 'in zigzags,' 'in polka-dots,' 'in diamonds,' etc.). Then have them draw the image that the line elicits. Hang up/post the drawings under the heading, 'Groovy Zebras.'

is full of similes, but in this case their purpose is to deceive - to create images that are not exactly accurate and therefore to mislead the reader about the identity of the animal. Tricky, but fun.

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