Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Producing, Executing and Performing
Developing Arts Literacies:
Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique
Explore how illustrations contribute to the telling of a story by creating illustrations to accompany text, and then creating text to accompany illustrations. Students will explore picture books (without words) and discuss the specific elements of the illustrations that "tell" the story. They will learn to "read" illustrations as they look at the ways in which pictures reveal information about the characters, setting, and plot of a story.
Create illustrations to accompany text.
"Read" a variety of illustrations for information.
Convey elements of a story such as character, setting, and plot through illustration.
Identify techniques and/or symbols used by illustrators to convey information.
Critique their own illustrations.
Participate in a variety of independent literacy-building activities. Teaching Approach
What You'll Need
Your choice of books can reflect other topics the students are studying or authors you are focusing on.
Prior Student Knowledge
No prior knowledge needed
Large Group Instruction
Small Group Instruction
Set up desks/tables and chairs to accommodate small group work
Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.
Resources in Reach
Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.
1. Read aloud a short excerpt from a book of your choosing. Do not share the book’s illustrations, but instead, have students listen carefully, and then create an illustration to go with the text.
2. Allow students to share their illustrations. Have students explain why they chose to depict what they did, and how the picture correlates with the story they just heard.
Explain that pictures, or illustrations, are an important element of storybooks, and they can help us understand the elements of the story, including the characters, setting, and plot.
Point out that illustrations can also provide valuable clues when one gets "stuck" on a word one doesn’t understand.
1. Explain that just as listening to a story creates a picture in our minds, looking at a picture can create a story in our minds. Show students a sample illustration from a large picture book of your choosing, preferably one that is unfamiliar to students.
Cover up the text so that the students are focused on the illustration.
2. Discuss with students which elements of the story they can discern simply by looking at the picture. Can they identify who the characters are and what they might be like?
What about the setting?
Where or when might the story take place?
Can they describe the action that is taking place?
Can they guess what one or more of the characters is feeling and/or thinking?
3. Flip to the next page, again covering up the text. Based on the second illustration, see which ideas about the storyline seem to be correct.
Can students discern something more about the storyline?
What elements of the illustrations are most helpful in figuring out information about the story?
Discuss specific techniques the illustrator used to “tell” the story.
If students are having trouble coming up with specific techniques, point out facial expressions on characters, actions, body language, gestures, or clothing that help reveal information about the characters or action of the story.
1. Explain that some books rely entirely on pictures to tell a story. Divide the students into groups of two to three. Distribute a picture book to each group. Allow them to flip through the picture book to discern the characters, setting, storyline of the book. Have a reporter from each group to briefly share the plot of the story with classmates, along with one of the illustrations that most helped them to understand the story and why.
2. Have each student a character, setting, and plot map of their own creation. Their maps should reveal the characters, setting, and some part of the action of the story. You can use the Character, Setting, and Plot Maps in the Resource Carousel above. You may wish to have students use ReadWriteThink's interactive Story Map as a graphic organizer for their story elements. The maps help students put their stories into words and pictures. Students can create maps on their own paper, or on an interactive white board. Distribute copies of the Storyline Elements handout so students know what to discuss as they look through peer illustrations.
1. Have students share whether their partner correctly guessed the elements of the storyline. If not, what part of the story did they have a hard time understanding?
2. Discuss the hardest and easiest parts of telling a story without words. Allow students five minutes to go back and add to or revise their pictures as needed.
Assess the students' work using the
Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel.
Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.
The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the
National Core Arts Standards ( http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.
Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.
Common Core/State Standards
Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.