Talking Trees – The Wonder of Personification – A FAB 15 A-GE!

Hello, I'm a magical Math Tree. Can you find the numbers on my branches?

“Hello, I’m a magical Math Tree. Can you find the numbers on my branches?”

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to uncover the magic of personification.

Personification is a mouthful of a word, and its potential as a teaching tool speaks volumes for teachers who are willing to “think and act outside the box.”

What exactly is personification? It’s worth noting…

…The Oxford English Dictionary defines this wonderful A-GE – attention-getting element – as the act of attributing a personal nature to an abstraction or thing – like a tree. Of course trees can’t actually “talk,” but don’t tell that to creative teachers.

The dictionary adds that personification can use figures to symbolize qualities – like strength.

How can you use personification to focus on admirable qualities? Example: A teacher standing next to an image of a tree with a photograph of one of her nation’s most respected leaders in hand can use personification by saying, “Look at this woman, class. She had the strength of a tree that withstood many storms. Her name is…and she…”

A memorable lesson? Absolutely, made more so with the incorporation of personification!

Who says a tree can’t talk? With the wonder of personification you can turn a giant bulletin board into a Math Tree with branches of numbers that kids can count when you give the tree a “voice” that asks the kids to do so. And…

…if you work with older students, make the branches personify math concepts like extrapolation. Learning square roots may be too difficult for elementary school children, but teaching the importance of a strong math foundation – as in sturdy roots – works for every grade level.

Here’s good news…

…no special training is needed for teachers to use this masterful means of catching and keeping kids’ attention. Personification and the other FAB 15 A-GEs – attention-getting elements are worth paying attention to; the benefits that they offer to teachers are awesome. “Teachers” may also work by other names…

Camp counselors, librarians, YMCA and other track-out and after school program coordinators, parks and recreation program presenters, Sunday school teachers and pediatric healthcare providers – adults who work with kids on vacation from school -can also benefit from rolling the A-GEs into their plans for K – 5 kids.

What exactly are the benefits?

In a nutshell, using attention-getting elements can help you 1) start time together at a high energy level, 2) introduce programs 3) hold kids’ interest 4) keep children focused and on task in groups and independently 5) prevent lost time during transitions between activities 6) promote healthy lifestyles and good character 7) promote world knowledge and interest in protecting natural resources 8) encourage curiosity and critical thinking, and model and encourage a love of learning.

Attentionology has explored fourteen of the FAB 15 elements so far…1) attracting appearance & presence 2) enthusiasm 3) voice 4) eye-catching visuals 5) word choice 6) color 7) music 8 entertainment 9) interaction 10) humor 11) surprise 12) dramatic movement 13) imagination 14) puppetry. Today’s featured A-GE – personification – is a delightful partner of puppetry.

Breeze through other nature-based opportunities to use personification in your teaching programs…

Make Pictures “Talk” to Start Story Time

Holding up eye-catching photos and illustrations is a great way to get kids attention as you settle them down for story time. Add the element of personification and young

"Hello everyone! I am the setting of the story you're about to hear. How can you describe me?"

“Hello everyone! I am the setting of the story you’re about to hear. How can you describe me?”

children, especially will be spellbound. For example, you can:

1) hold up a photo of a magnificent sunset.

2) move the photo slightly from side to side, as if it’s “alive.”

3) speak in a cheerful voice different from your own and say, “Hello everyone! I am the setting of the story you’re about to hear. It’s bright isn’t it. How else can you describe me?”

4) use the “talking picture” to remind children to be quiet and attentive during your story reading, by making the photo move again slightly and saying, “Thanks for describing me so well! It’s time to start my story now. Please keep your eyes and ears on Ms. ________________ (your name).”

Personify Pictures and Objects to Start Students’ Story Writing

Personification isn’t only effective as an attention-getting element with young children. Teachers of older students can “get a lot of mileage” humanizing pictures to help students start writing their own stories.

For example, you’ll grab kids’ attention if you make a photo of a beautiful sunset “speak,” saying, “All eyes on me, a setting sun, please! Alert! Someone has been lost just now at sea! Go, write a story about what happened…” 

"I'm a magic hat that a friend of mine brought to life. You won't believe the magic I made..."

“I’m a magic hat that a friend of mine brought to life. You won’t believe the magic I made…”

NOTE: Students don’t necessarily have to write stories that personify characters, like a talking sunset or a talking magic hat, but some students will jump at the challenge to do just that.

Offer writing prompts for stories with personified characters. For example, invite kids to write as if they were a magic hat that has come to life, able to work wonders, or an eagle with a sky-high perspective. Students love this!

What’s not to love about personification!

Teachers can tap this amazing A-GE – attention-getting element – and bring to life pictures, objects, concepts, character traits, you name it.

Remember, no special talent is needed to use personification other than a willingness to use rudimentary animation and put-on voices – all for fun and function!

Please send me a quick comment about your favorite A-GE. What is it?

Look for Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers here on Monday.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet



Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Mid-Week Focus
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are having trouble writing connecting sentences between the beginning, middle and end of a story.

Solution: Show toy airplanes, pretending to make them "take off" across notebook paper. Explain to the class that stories, like airplanes, require clear "flight paths."

Related Posts: Become the Classroom of the Traveling Story!