Skip to Main Content

Garden City School Library: Getting the Picture

Essential Question

How can illustrations help tell a written story?

Lesson 1 - Jon Klassen

  • Introduction: Ask the students if an illustrator writes words or draws pictures. Explain that sometimes the words in a picture book don't tell the full story; you need to look at the illustrations to get all the details. 
  • Readalouds: Read just the words of This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. Ask the students what they thought about the story. Now reread, showing them the pictures. Guaranteed they'll like it better this time around! Next, read Sam and Dave Dig a Hole - written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen - showing the pictures. They will be freaking out about the gems. When you are done, ask the kids to articulate how the illustrations helped tell the story.
  • Activity: Candlewick Press, the publisher for these books, has activity kits online. Here are links to what I used:

    This is Not My Hat: p. 8 of this PDF - color a fish

    Sam and Dave: p. 11 of this PDF - maze

Lesson 2 - We Know Something

  • Review: Ask the kids what an illustrator does. Remind them that sometimes the pictures in a book include information that isn't in the text. Today we'll read two books where we know more than the main characters do.

  • Readalouds: Read Life on Mars by Jon Agee. and Good Night, Owl by Greg Pizzoli. When you are done, ask the kids to articulate how the illustrations told US what was happening. What did we know that the main characters didn't?
  • Activity: 

    Life on Mars maze: p. 2 of this PDF from Penguin, the publisher

    Owl coloring pages drawn by Kate Endle from this coloring book

    Take turns finding hidden objects in this video:

Lesson 3 - Find It!

  • Review: Ask the kids what an illustrator does. Tell them that sometimes illustrators add items to their pictures as bonuses ... if you notice them, they are a little extra.
  • Readalouds: Read It's Only Stanley by Jon Agee (who created last week's Life on Mars). After you finish, use the Elmo to show the kids what happens to the poor cat after the double-page spreads of Stanley tinkering with the house.

    Then read explain that sometimes books are illustrated with photographs. Read Where in the Wild?, written by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy with photos by Dwight Kuhn. Invite the students to come up and point to the hidden animals when they see them. 

  • Activity: Students can try to find the six hidden objects in this koala coloring page from There is an elephant one, too. They can also take turns coming up to the screen to find the hidden object in this video

Lesson 4 - X

Illustrations: Jon Klassen - Triangle, This is Not My Hat

author/illustrator RL.K.6

Pets: Ginny Goblin and I Want a Doig

Illustrations: Life on Mars and Good Night Owl

Koala Hidden Objects Activity | Woo! Jr. Kids Activities : Children's Publishing ( 

The Dark and Creepy Pair of Underwear 

Illustrations: Sector 7 because I forgot The Book with No Pictures … and I think maybe I will save that because describing pictures might be a better segue

Standards Addressed

AASL: I.B.1 - Use evidence to investigate questions; III.D.1 - Actively contribute to group discussions; V.A.1 - Read widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes 

RI Core: R.I.K.10 - Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding; SL.K.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations; SL.K.5 - Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail 

Rhode Island Cross-Curricular Proficiencies: Communication - Respond to ideas or information expressed by the speaker