How theater and visual arts can help to engage your students to read.
- Create illustrations to accompany a text.
- Infer meaning from illustrations for information.
- Describe story elements such as character, setting, and plot through illustration.
- Identify techniques and/or symbols used by illustrators to convey information.
- Evaluate revise illustrations.
- Participate in peer discussions.
Teachers should select books that align with other content topics or authors you are focusing on. Explore the Reading Rockets Wordless Books list for recommendations.
Students should have experience with picture books and story elements.
Modify handouts, text, and utilize assistive technologies as needed. Allow extra time for task completion.
- 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.
- Allow students to “turn and talk” to their peers and share their illustrations. Ask students, how does your illustration correlate with the text from the story? 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 for decoding and clarification of unknown words.
- Explain that listening to a story creates a picture in our minds, and looking at a picture can create a story in our minds too. 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.
- Discuss with students which elements of the story they can discern simply by looking at the picture. Who are the characters and how would you describe them? What is the setting? Where or when might the story take place? What actions and events are taking place? What can you infer about the characters’ thoughts or feelings?
- Flip to the next page, again covering up the text. Based on the second illustration, see which ideas students were able to infer. Ask students, what can you infer 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. Use a mentor text to model techniques, pointing out facial expressions on characters, actions, body language, gestures, or clothing that help reveal information about the characters or events in the story.
- Explain that some books rely entirely on pictures to tell a story. Divide the students into small groups. Distribute a picture book to each group. Allow time for students to flip through the picture book to discern the characters, setting, and storyline of the book. Ask the recorder to jot their findings down on page one of the Capture Sheet: Story Elements. Have a reporter from each group 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.
- Have each student create their own character, setting, and plot maps using page one and two of the Capture Sheet: Story Elements. 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 for planning. 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 use an interactive board.
- Provide students with feedback. Facilitate learning in small or whole group to offer constructive feedback so students can revise their picture story.
- Divide students into partners and have them share their illustrations. Display the Discussion: Storyline Elements resource as a reference during peer discussions. Have their partner infer the storyline and discuss what parts they understand and do not understand.
- Assess students’ knowledge of storytelling with illustrations. Allow time for student-teacher discourse to evaluate the student’s work. Ask students, what does the illustration infer about the character’s thoughts or feelings? How does the setting relate to the events in the story?
November 14, 2019
Find tips on how to use the arts to build writing revision skills and differentiate the writing process.
Process drama is an imaginative tool for non-arts teachers and students to explore issues and solve problems.
Greek and Egyptian mythology, the story of the Lion King, and the legend of King Arthus are just some of the ways these resources explore the different cultural interpretations of heroes. Then learn the stories of Cinderella, as well as American legends Paul Bunyan, John Henry and Pecos Bill.
Kennedy Center Education Digital Learning
Director, Digital Learning
Manager, Digital Education Resources
Assistant Manager, Audience Enrichment
Program Coordinator, Digital Learning
Content Specialist, Digital Learning
Connect with us!
ARTSEDGE, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, is generously funded by David Rubenstein.
Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.
Kennedy Center education and related artistic programming is made possible through the generosity of the National Committee for the Performing Arts and the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.
The contents of this Web site were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal government.
Unless otherwise stated, ARTSEDGE materials may be copied, modified and otherwise utilized for non-commercial educational purposes provided that ARTSEDGE and any authors listed in the materials are credited and provided that you permit others to use them in the same manner.
© 1996-2020 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts