• Visual Arts
  • Literary Arts
  • English & Literature
  • Grades K-2

Visual Storytelling
How do illustrations contribute to storytelling?

In this k-2 lesson, students will examine how illustrations contribute to the telling of a story. Through picture books (without words), students will discuss the elements of the illustrations that “tell” the story. They will learn to interpret illustrations as they look at how pictures reveal information about the characters, setting, and plot of a story. To culminate the lesson, students will create illustrations to accompany a text and then write text to accompany illustrations. 

Print Lesson

Lesson Content

Learning Objectives 

Students will: 

  • 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.

Standards Alignment

Recommended Materials

Capture Sheet: Story Elements, ReadWriteThink’s Interactive Story Map, Discussion: Storyline Elements, optional Drawing: Inside Out - Timelapse


Teacher Background

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. 


Student Prerequisites 

Students should have experience with picture books and story elements. 


Accessibility Accommodations

Modify handouts, text, and utilize assistive technologies as needed. Allow extra time for task completion.

  • Adaptation

    Amy Heathcott

  • Editor

    JoDee Scissors

  • Updated

    November 14, 2019

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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.

  • Myths, Legends, & Folktales
Kennedy Center Education Digital Learning

Eric Friedman 
Director, Digital Learning

Kenny Neal 
Manager, Digital Education Resources

Tiffany Bryant 
Assistant Manager, Audience Enrichment

Joanna McKee 
Program Coordinator, Digital Learning

JoDee Scissors 
Content Specialist, Digital Learning

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