Enjoy using the Story Grammar Marker® Materials For Traditional and Graphical Stories - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Enjoy Using the Story Grammar Marker® Materials For Traditional and Graphical Stories

by Sheila Zagula February 20, 2015 7 min read

Our winter theme is expanding in literature as well as in real life here in New England. From blogs containing twelve episodes of Frozen to Owl Moon to the recent Blizzards of 2015, we have chosen two versions of the same story reflecting a winter theme.

The Snow Walker Book Cover
The Snow Walker
(On My Own History)

By Margaret K. Wetterer and Charles M. Wetterer (Authors)
Mary O'Keefe Young (Illustrator)
Carolrhoda Books (Lerner)
Minneapolis, MN: 1996
ISBN: 978-0876149591

Milton Daub Book Cover
The Snowshoeing Adventure of Milton Daub, Blizzard Trekker
(History's Kid Heroes)

By Margaret K. Wetterer and Charles M. Wetterer (Authors)
Emma Carlson Berne (Adapter), Zachary Trover (Illustrator)
Graphic Universe (Lerner)
Minneapolis, MN: 2010
ISBN: 978-0761361947

We thought that you would enjoy using the Story Grammar Marker® materials with the same story but two distinctive versions: one traditional and the other graphic. The different forms of the story will enable students to know what it is to transform content into two (or more) versions. The setting for the story is the Bronx during the Blizzard of 1888. The traditional story contains “details” that the graphic story shows through facial expression, body language, punctuation and speech/thought bubbles. Often students who need narrative-based intervention (diagnosis of language problems, high levels of autism and theory of mind concerns), benefit from the visuals provided in graphic novels/stories but also profit from listening to and using language to express the complexity of the plot.

Explicit instruction in how graphic illustrations and linguistic elaborations relate to each other is beneficial in terms of developing:

  • story grammar structure,
  • expository structure and
  • the ability to express and elaborate upon the content.

Included in this blog is an in-depth story grammar (macrostructure) analysis using our unique icons, expository mapping of information contained in the introduction, and the creation of an expository text “center/station” activity to connecting the science of snowflake development to the story using expository text mapping: list, sequence, cause/effect.

Finally, there is an annotated bibliography of books related to winter. Enjoy.

The original book was a traditional narrative picture book. The book we have analyzed is the graphic novel, adapted in 2010. Same story, different format. The traditional text provides much more language describing the events than are captured in the graphic novel.

An idea would be to use both with the same student concurrently.

The introductions to both books are written in expository text that lends itself to the setting map from Talk to Write, Write to Learn manual, page 165.

Descriptive Setting Map

The blizzard was the cause of a list of effects, such as these shown on a part of the ThemeMaker Student Tool.

ThemeMaker Cause-Effect Map

The entire book lends itself to “Making Connections” with the world, life, text and self.

Making Connections Diagram


Character IconMilton Daub, 12 years old, oldest of five (Ella, Hannah, Maurice and Jerome)

Star IconDaub’s family home

Shoe IconDangerous storm, plenty of food but Mom wishes she had milk for the baby

How to Make SnowshoesHeart IconMilton is concerned and remembers that in his geography book there is a picture of snowshoes and realizes he could make a pair and go for the milk.

Plan IconMilton will go for the milk with a sled using the snowshoes.

Action IconMilton and Dad make snowshoes and he tries them out. Dad ties a rope to Milton so he can try the snowshoes out safely. The snowshoes work. Milton goes out the second floor window. Dad tells him to pay attention to the landmarks in the neighborhood. Milton takes his sled with him.

Action IconGets five cans of condensed milk from Mr. Ash as there was not fresh milk delivered. Milton begins the journey home.

Action IconOn his way Milton sells all his canned milk to townspeople who see him out their window and some give him more money than what the milk cost him. So he returns to Mr. Ash for more milk three times! He finally buys a case of milk with the extra money from the neighbors.

Action IconMilton sells more milk on the way home.

Consequence IconAfter he hears the noon whistle, Mlton returns home in the early afternoon to a worried family. He gives the money to his mother, eats, and then decides that he wants to go out again.

Resolution IconHe had fun and knew that many people needed milk.



Shoe IconPeople need the milk.

Heart IconMilton is concerned about them.

Plan IconWants to go out again and his parents agree. Dad checks the snowshoes and they seem fine; mom gives him stockings and tells him that he must be home before dark.

Page 18: Talk about the thought bubble Thought Bubble Iconas Milton imagines himself as a great dogsled explorer!

Action IconBy 3 o’clock, he had bought and sold all of Mr. Ash’s milk so he decides to go to Mr. Roach’s grocery, four blocks away.

Action IconHe buys a case, and on his way to sell it, his right snowshoe loosens! He ties it together with wires. He finishes selling the last of the cans and just about ready to go home when…



Shoe IconA woman yells out her window and throws down a prescription that her husband needs and asks Milton to go to the drugstore.

Heart IconMilton feels concerned for the womans husband and forgets Thought Bubble Iconabout his broken snowshoe and the money.

Plan IconHe decides to go to the drugstore. He is determined.

Action IconMrs. McKane calls her husband who gets the medicine and gives it free of charge to Milton.

Action IconMilton returns to the woman and gives her the medicine.

Thought Bubble IconMilton is about THINKING (p. 22) about that broken snowshoe… He’s feeling worried that he may sink in the snow if his snowshoe breaks…



Shoe IconA woman asks Milton to get her some food as she has none in the house.

Heart IconHis snowshoe is snapping which worries him. Milton is concerned and nervous about his snow shoe but worried about the woman, as well. (This shows perspective taking.) See Milton's picture on page 25 and discuss feelings shown.

Plan IconHe decides to get the food and then go home.

Action IconMilton takes the woman’s list.

Action IconMilton returns to Mr. Roach’s grocery and orders two of the same order, the one for the woman and one also for the woman who has the sick husband because he thought she might need some groceries too.

Action IconHe goes back and gives the groceries.

Thought Bubble IconHe realizes it is already after 4 o’clock…

Heart IconA dead bird falls from the tree and startles him. His snowshoe is snapping and which worries him. He has trouble finding his way. He is afraid. Picture on page 25.

Consequence IconSees the house (the Alaskan explorer returns!) He journeys through the cold and snow into the house. Parents are relieved…he shows the money he made…mom has him get changed and go to bed…gets him soup…

Resolution IconMilton is exhausted and falls asleep even though it is only 6 o'clock. The blizzard snow stops on Wednesday. People talk about Milton and many stop by to thank him, especially the woman whose husband was sick. Milton is proud and happy to have helped!

Feelings Activity

Feelings Poster This is a wonderful time to use the SGM Feelings Mini-Poster. The activity template provided for download takes a Character and a Kick-Off from our above selection. The students can use the mini-poster to choose three feelings for the kick-offs chosen. We've included a blank template for you to use with a different story of your choice. This task demonstrates text complexity as the student looks for multiple feelings rather than just one.

Feelings Student Map


Student Activity: Snowflake

Also for blending expository and narrative texts, we chose pages from The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino.

Book Pages

Did you know that snow begins with a speck, a particle contained in a cloud? We thought that this concept would create deep thinking about the development of snowflakes and also would make a great center or station for your classroom or therapy session?

This activity is taken from information on pages 8 to 12 in this book. The text lends itself to a list map and a sequence culminating in cause/effect. Scaffold these structures with your students prior to this activity.

This expository “center/station” activity provides an application of factual knowledge to show how scientists think deeply and use expository sequences in their thinking; in this instance, to study a phenomenon such as the snowflake. Deep thinking about a topic involves links among real-life personal experiences, real-life phenomenons, and the abstract, theoretical knowledge that experts in a particular discipline (science, history) have.

For this activity, we have made available for download the following pages for your students. Instructions are included in the PDF file. Your students will make a list, a sequence and learn about cause-effect while completing their "Snowflake" activity. You may choose to write sentences, words, or just use the pictures included with your students for sequencing how the speck becomes a snow crystal. Also included on the last two pages are sample completed maps.

ACtivity Pages, Small


Sample Picture of the Completed Activity

Sample Completed Activity


*Bodden, Valerie. Our Wonderful Weather: Snow. Minnesota: Creative Education, 2012.
*Byles, Monica. Life in the Polar Lands. New York: Scholastic, 1990.
*Carson, Mary Kay. Inside Weather. New York:  Sterling Children’s Books, 2011.
*Caplovich, Judd. Blizzard! The Great Storm of ’88. Connecticut: VeRo Publishing Company, 1987.
*Cassino, Mark.  The Story of Snow. California: Chronicle Books LLC, 2009. 
See attachments for an activity related to this book.
Frost, Robert. Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2001.
*Gibbons, Gail. It’s Snowing. New York: Holiday House, 2011.
Hader, Berta and Elmer.  The Big Snow  New York: Aladdin Books, 1976.
Rocco, John.  Blizzard. New York: Hyperion, 2014.
This is a similar story as the one featured, The Snowshoeing Adventure of Milton Daub, but for a younger audience.
*Simon, Seymour. Weather. New York: Harper Collins, 2006.
Standiford, Natalie. The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto. New York:  Random House, 1989.
Wetterer, Charles and Margaret. The Snow Walker. New York:  Scholastic, 1996.
Wetterer, Charles and Margaret. The Snowshoeing Adventure of Milton Daub, Blizzard Trekker. Minnesota:  Graphic Universe, 2011.
Yolen, Jane. Owl Moon. New York: Philomel Books, 1987.
Extensive analysis and lessons by Lindsay Domb on our facebook page.
* Expository Texts

Sheila Zagula
Sheila Zagula

Sheila Zagula works with MindWing Concepts in product development, drawing on her expertise and talents as well as many years of implementing the Story Grammar Marker® and related materials. Her teaching career spans thirty-eight years, most recently as literacy coach in the Westfield Massachusetts Public School System. Sheila has experience as an early childhood educator, a teacher of children with special needs, and a collaborative instructor within an inclusion framework serving children in grades K-5.

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