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Lesson Plan

Designing Elements of Story in Little Blue and Little Yellow

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Designing Elements of Story in Little Blue and Little Yellow

Grades K – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Theodore Kesler, Ed.D.

Flushing, New York


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Through multimodal activities, students will explore key elements of design such as color, shape, size, texture, density, and layout to understand and appreciate how these elements combine to convey meaning in Little Blue and Little Yellow, by Leo Lionni. Using art and digital media, they will then create their own designs to express meaning for setting, character relationships, and plot. Students will realize how to use design elements to read images and how meaning in picture books is equally conveyed in both words and images.

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Doodle Splash: Students combine the process of drawing with analytical thinking by pairing online drawing with writing prompts that encourage them to make connections between their visual designs and the text.

Action Phrases from Little Blue and Little Yellow: Teachers will print out this worksheet and cut out the phrases, one for each small group, as described in the sessions.


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This lesson teaches young children to engage joyfully in the “cues for reading that extend beyond the letters and words on the page, demanding interpretation and interaction with the text beyond the decoding of print” (Hammerberg, 207). Hammerberg asserts that these design elements of picture books are an integral part of the meaning-making process. Similarly, this lesson builds on multimodal literacy theories. The following statements from the NCTE Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies (2005) directly apply to this lesson:

  • [Literacy] is the interplay of meaning-making systems (alphabetic, oral, visual, etc.) that teachers and students should strive to study and produce. "Multiple ways of knowing" (Short & Harste) also include art, music, movement, and drama, which should not be considered curricular luxuries.
  • All modes of communication are codependent. Each affects the nature of the content of the other and the overall rhetorical impact of the communication event itself.
  • From an early age, students are very sophisticated readers and producers of multimodal work. They can be helped to understand how these works make meaning, how they are based on conventions, and how they are created for and respond to specific communities or audiences.

Thus, in this lesson, students will learn the conventions of design as they come to realize the codependency of multiple ways of knowing to express meaning within a learning community.

Further Reading

Hammerberg, D. (2001). Reading and writing “hypertextually”: Children’s literature, technology, and early writing instruction. Language Arts, 78 (3), 207-216.


NCTE Executive Committee. 2005. Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies. Web. November 2009. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/multimodalliteracies.

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