Exploring the CSI Thinking Routine through Picture Books

The Children’s Book Council Shortlist of books provided many possibilities to introduce and explore Thinking Routines. This term I introduced the Harvard Project Zero Visible Thinking  Colour, Symbol, Image Routine CSI to Year 3. The CSI routine was introduced and each week after we had read one of the Shortlist books the students were given a sticky note to write or draw a Colour, Symbol and Image related to the story. After a few goes the activity became easier and the students were able to dig a little deeper. The CBCA Shortlist Picture books led to deep thinking as they covered themes and ideas that were real and at times confronting.

Once we had completed the activity for the six books the students selected one book to examine and respond using the CSI routine in greater detail. A selection of work can be found in this post. Overall I was impressed with the students understanding and their response to the CSI routine, it enabled students to share aspects of the book and touched on the theme, mood and at times character emotions.


Colour, Symbol, Image sticky note responses for ‘Suri’s Wall’ by Lucy Estela

CSI ‘Suri’s Wall’ by Lucy Estela


CSI ‘One Step at a Time’ by Jane Jolly


CSI ‘One Step at a Time’ by Jane Jolly


CSI ‘Flight’ by Nadia Wheatley














How the series of lessons fits into the Curriculum

Unit focus: Explore and respond to Children’s Book Week Shortlisted Picture Books  – focus on Thinking Routine – Colour, Symbol, Image.

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum Outcomes:

  • English: Writing and representing 1 EN1-2A

A student: Plans, composes and reviews a range of texts that are more demanding in terms of topic, audience and language

  • English: Thinking imaginatively, creatively and interpretively  EN2-10C

A student: Thinks imaginatively, creatively and interpretively about information, ideas and texts when responding to and composing texts

General Capabilities:

  • Literacy: Comprehending texts through listening, reading and viewing. Interpret and analyse learning area texts.
  • Critical and Creative Thinking: Inquiring – identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas.
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