Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Picture This

Paula Willis


Picture This!! Explore creative ideas for illustrating children's books using innovative and unusual objects for illustrating juvenile stories.


The student uses two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to communicate an idea or concept based on research, environment, personal experience, observation, or imagination.


-Pencils for sketching
-Acrylic or watercolor paint
-Tissue paper
-Construction paper
-Sponges for cutting into shapes for stamps
-Household objects that could also be used as stamps, ex: doilies, toy car wheels (tread makes great patterns), leaves, bubblewrap, etc.


Pancakes, Pancakes! By Eric Carle, 1990, New York, Scholastic Books

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 1983, New York, Philomel Books
Swimmy by Leo Lionni, 1968, New York, Pantheon Books
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni, 1970, New York, Pantheon Books

-Videos: Five Lionni Classics from Library Video Company, order # RK2506, $14.95, 30 min.
Eric Carle Picture Writer, Library Video Company, order # RY4406-K, $ 39.95, 27min.


1. Gather any materials before hand and set up in groups, construction paper in one, tissue in another…
2. Prepare floor area and tables with newsprint to protect from glue, paint…
3. Make available in poster or books the illustrators work at the front of the room or in other designated area, away from work area, so that all may freely access during work time.
5. Read the children's books and preview the videos. Prepare any comments needed for discussion with students.
4. Make a copy of the rubric for grading.


1. This lesson involves using two-dimensional media, techniques, tools and processes to communicate an idea or concept based on research, environment, personal experience, observation, or imagination. The students will be illustrating a story for young readers. A story, appropriate for elementary age children should be written prior to creating the illustrations. This may be done in conjuction with the English teacher, or could be part of a previous lesson where writing standards apply. The story should be short and simple. This is an art class so the lesson will only deal with the visual art standards.

2. Prior to having students write the stories, introduce them to authors and illustrators Eric Carle and Leo Lionni and their style of illustrating their writing which is created by using a variety of non-traditional materials. These materials include stamps, torn paper, doilies, laminate, opposed to rendering in pen, marker, or paint.

3. Discuss the books in terms of the illustrations and how and why they chose to illustrate their story in this manner.

4. Compare and contrast the various styles and media presented here with other more traditional styles of illustrating, such as drawing and rendering in markers or paint.

5. Prepare the students for the video by telling them to look for these skills and techniques while viewing the video. Then start the videos. This will take at least 1 hour to complete due to length of the videos.

6. The videos will show the students how the images were created by the illustrator. After viewing the books and videos, discuss some the techniques used by the two illustrators and what makes them effective in relating to a child of elementary age, such tearing paper instead of cutting, stamping instead of drawing.

7. After the students have been introduced to the authors, books, and videos give them the writing assignment for homework. Instruct them not to make it too lengthy. It may take a night of homework and one class period to write. Once the story is written they are ready to illustrate.

7. Encourage students to explore and create new ways of portraying their story, by thinking of their own ordinary objects that could be used in different ways to create something new.

8. Guide the students in experimenting with the various materials and techniques to get a feel for working with them, such as using torn paper vs. cutting, glue vs. pencils for drawing.

9. Let students use the books in the class as well as encouraging them to explore others in the local media center as a reference and to gain ideas on how to illustrate their story.

10. Provide feedback by critiquing images as they are working, praising creative ideas or pointing out ways of improvement.

11. Assess the project by refering to the rubric provided.

Note: Students may need assistance with cutting out sponges or foam for stamps.


When the project is complete, collect the student work in book form and use the rubric to assess the process used to communicate their ideas based on research, environment, personal experience, observation, or imagination.

See the attachment for a scoring rubric.

Web Links

Web supplement for Picture This
Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

Web supplement for Picture This
Smithsonian Magazine

Attached Files

File Attachment.     File Extension: pdf

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