“Du Iz Tak” by Carson Ellis and Companion Activity
This book is absolutely genius! Carson Ellis wrote this lovely picture book all in a language that she completely made up! However, it isn’t complete and total gibberish because she paired her curious little insects with illustrations that help tell the story and repeats her new words in a pattern that helps you decode what the insects may actually be saying. This leaves the reader feeling quite proud and intelligent because they aren’t lost the whole time, in fact, they can follow the story quite well!
It is about a community of insects that discover something new one day. It is a sprouting plant and they watch this new plant grow and develop and interact with the changes in their environment. As a reader you get to follow it through the seasons to the next spring where, to the insects delight, more sprouts appear. The illustration have a minimalist feel due to Carson’s wonderful use of blank space, however, they are incredibly detailed with luxurious textures on every object down to the tiniest insect’s wings.
“Du Iz Tak” Companion Activity and Printables
As I mentioned above, the made-up language that Carson uses has words and phrases repeated in meaningful ways so that a supposed definition for a phrase can work for the same phrase in both situations where it is used. This makes it similar to a real, functioning, intelligent language. That makes this book one that is PERFECT for kiddos to practice inferring and decoding skills. Inferring and decoding skills are essential for good readers to have in order to learn new vocabulary in books and to better comprehend what they are reading in general. They are the skills you use when you come across a word that you don’t know, but can determine the meaning by applying background knowledge that you have, observing the illustrations for clues, or using the phrases and words that you do know around it. Even adult readers use these skills on a regular basis, usually without even realizing it.
For example, when you read this book chances are your brain will automatically start applying background information that you know, look for patterns in the text, and pick up clues from the illustrations so that you can piece together what is happening in the story. That is why I was inspired to create the activity sheet for this book. It includes a table at the top where you can jot down what you think different words and phrases mean as you come across them in the book. The farthest column is where you can circle how you came to that conclusion, whether you had clues from the text, illustrations, or background knowledge. This helps readers to realize the tools available for them to use when decoding and how helpful they can be.
The second half of the sheet is the activity part that tests your theories for the translations you recorded in the table for the new words. You are invited to write your definitions for the words and phrases in the book on sticky-note tabs and place them over the correlating words and phrases in the book. Then you read the book by reading only the words on your tabs to see if the book/story makes sense. This is the magical part because children will be surprised and delighted to see the story revealed before their eyes.
*Quick tip: When using the tabs, write on them before you place them on your pages. Otherwise, you could end up with indents from your pen in your book.
When I taught Elementary School, decoding and inferring were skills that I taught. Therefore, the teacher in me just HAD to make a more worksheet style printable as well for all the fellow teachers out there. The difference between that one and the one photographed is that it includes a place for students to put there name at the top, some critical thinking/discussion questions at the bottom and some instructions for handing it in.
Click here to download the Activity Printable: du-iz-tak-sheet
Click here for the “student” format: student-worksheet
If you give this Beyond the Book activity a try I’d love to hear how it goes! Share it on Instagram using hashtag #beyondthebook (I’m on Instagram as @book.nerd.mommy) or even just comment here with your thoughts. It would make my day! Or to simply save for later pin the image below.
Also, if you love this activity, you may be interested in my decoding/inferring activity (including a free printable) that I paired with the book “Baloney (Henry P.)”. Check it out here.