Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Classic Post: Using Wordless Books Within a Content Unit—with FREE download!

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of Whimsy Workshop, and it includes a FREE download with worksheets! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas! If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here!

Hello again! I’m Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’m sharing with you some examples of how I use wordless books from the My World series to add a new angle to a content unit. The book we used this time was Animals In the Forest by Susan Bennett-Armistead. My key concepts for this lesson were based on writing: observations, invented spelling and editing.

To begin, I projected the pages as we did a whole-class picture walk through the book. This complemented our previous class study of North American animals and was a great review. We discussed what we knew about the animals and previous experiences with raccoons and bears.

Next, students used a template to write a poem about the animals in the book. Because the main part of the book has no text, the emphasis was on close study of the pictures and gathering our own details rather than reading about information. This was an interesting change!

Students wrote:

In the forest, I see “a bird feeding green worms to five hungry chicks.”

In the forest, I see “a brown furry squirrel gathering nuts for the winter.”

In the forest, I see “a spider spinning a web to catch flies and mosquitoes.”

Students used their “best guesses” to spell the words. When they were done, we used the last pages of the book to edit their spelling. There are two pages with animal words listed, and students had to try to find their animal on the list, check the spelling, and edit their work.

When we were done, we also used the questions provided at the back of the book to review what we had learned and explore new questions about the forest, such as the following:

Where do animals hide in the forest?

Where do animals get food in the forest?

The "In The Forest” worksheet we used is included here as a free download! These books were a valuable addition to our study of North American animal resources!


I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.


To download the "In the Forest" worksheet, click the worksheet image to the left below. For more information on the My World series, click the image to the right below to download a series information sheets with highlights and key features, or click here to visit our website!

In the Forest Worksheet   New Call-to-Action