April 24, 2011

Beautiful Blackbird

Title:  Beautiful Blackbird
Ashley Bryan (Author and Illustrator)
Click the Amazon link to purchase: 
Beautiful Blackbird (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner)

Comprehension Strategy:          Synthesizing              
Art Modalities: Creative Movement, Visual Art

Summary: In a story of the Ila people, the colorful birds of Africa ask Blackbird, whom they think is the most beautiful of birds, to decorate them with some of his “blackening brew.” (Summary from the book.)

Beautiful Blackbird
black tempera paint
various colors of construction paper
simple bird pattern

Synthesis takes place when readers’ thinking changes. Their thinking evolves. They infer meanings beyond the story line. They recognize themes.
Read aloud Beautiful Blackbird. To help your students recognize the themes, you might want to discuss the following lines from the story:

“Color on the outside is not what’s on the inside. You don’t act like me. You don’t eat like me. You don’t get down in the groove and move your feet like me.”

“We’ll see the difference a touch of black can make. Just remember, whatever I do, I’ll be me and you’ll be you.”

Extend the students’ understanding of the story by encouraging creative movement. Gather students in an open space such a gym. Reread the story. Have students move “with a flip flop flapping of their wings” and a “stirring, whirring of the air” as you read the description of the “Beak and Wing Dance” and the “Show Claws Slide.”

To prepare for a visual-art extension, mix some “blackening brew” (black paint) in a “medicine gourd.”
To make a bird, each child traces and then cuts out a simple bird shape from construction paper. She then uses a feather to paint on black accents. Display the birds on a yellow background along with the following poem from the story.

“Our colors sport a brand-new look,
A touch of black was all it took.
Oh beautiful black, uh-huh, uh-huh
Black is beautiful, UH-HUH!”

 "Meet" Ashley Bryan at Reading Rockets.

More from Ashley Bryan, Uh-huh!


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