Charlotte's Web

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SWBAT use the illustrations in the story to analyze the characters, setting, and events.

Big Idea

Expose students to complex text and use the illustrations to help the describe the story.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection

RL1.7 is one standard that really helps prepare students for college and career readiness. The standard allows students practice evaluating and analyzing pictures or details in a story to develop their understanding of the character, setting, or events in a story.  With this standard, the students aren't just trying to understand what is happening in the illustration, they are analyzing it and evaluating how it adds to their comprehension of the story.  When the students engage in higher order thinking like analyzing and evaluating they increase their ability to understand the characters, setting, and events in a story.

The lesson image is of a play about Charlotte's Web, and I really like it because it reminds me how acting out a story can help students understand. Another way the can learn more about the story's character, setting, and events is by analyzing the illustrations.  This lesson is designed to help the students learn to analyze the illustrations and add to what the text tells them in a story.  Charlotte's Web is a great story to do this, and I read have read the text to the class in a previous read aloud that I do in the afternoon. Most of my reading lessons are in the morning and we analyze the pictures of the webs Charlotte spins with the words in it.  The pictures of the webs add to the reader's understanding of both characters, Wilbur and Charlotte.  Not only do we learn about them, but we also learn about their relationship.

Lesson Overview

Most of the lesson allows students to work in small collaborative groups, and this adds to the development of their speaking and listening skills. The groups are mixed in their ability and based on oral reading fluency scores on DIBELS.  In order to organize the group member roles I like to call one member the peanut butter partner and the other the jelly.  When I notice that one partner is not participating I might ask the peanut butter partner to teach the jelly in the next conversation. Sometimes I also like to ask the specific partners to do the reading or writing.  It is just a fun way to organize activities instead of calling the students by name.

The lesson allows for transitions every twenty minutes, because this is about the maximum time my students can stay focused.  We start out in the lounge, then we move the desks for guided practice, later we move to the center tables for partner work, and the lesson ends back at the lounge.  During each transition the students chant the lesson goal, because it keeps them focused and manages behavior as they move.

Introductory Activity

This part of the lesson is when I want to get my students excited about learning and engaged in the lesson. To do this I show the lesson image on the Promethean board and ask the students to discuss what the web tells us about Wilbur that we might not understand just by reading the words.  As the class discusses, I listen to see what kind of ideas they have, and this assessment gives me an idea of how much support my students are going to need in the lesson.  After they finish talking, I share what I heard and, I say, I think it really shows a connection and strong friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur, because she wrote that he is Some Pig to save his life.  This really shows that Wilbur and Charlotte have a strong friendship. It is important to push them to this deeper level of analysis (over just something like, It shows what Charlotte wrote about Wilbur) in order to tackle the level of depth that the standard expects.

Now it is time for me to explain that we will be reading a few excerpts from Charlotte's Web and analyzing how the illustrations help describe the characters. Then the students chant the lesson goal.  I can understand the characters by analyzing the illustrations.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Now my students transition to the desks where we work in guided practice to use the color, position, and size of the illustrations to describe the character, setting, and events. I made a chart for me to write their analysis on (Charlotte's Web Description from Illustrations).

The first image is of Charlotte and the Ax, and we look at it to help understand the events from page two where Fern is trying to take the ax so her uncle won't kill Wilbur. I want students to see how strongly she wants to protect him.

The next image is of Charlotte Feeding Wilbur and is on page six. I want students to see that it shows how much Fern loves Wilbur. She is treating him like a baby.

Then we analyze the page where all the animals are looking at Charlotte in Wilbur at the Barn. This one shows that he has something important to say and that he is growing as a character by becoming more confident.

Last, we look at cute little Wilbur as he stands by his web that says Terrific. We describe who made it.  Then the students discuss what the message she wants the farmer to get: that the pig is special; don't kill him.

The last image, The Fair, shows how the plan worked, and Wilbur won the fair.

Each of these images adds depth to the emotion of the event that the text describes while also adding emphasis. The class comes away with a deeper understanding of the development of the characters and their emotions. I find that the illustrations also add emphasis to important events and help the events stick in the students' minds, which I want my class to understand as well. These illustrations are included intentionally by the author to help the reader understand the characters' development and get a lasting image of the important events in the story.

I have a strategy video (Partner Talk) that shows how they students discuss each picture with their partner. Then they engage in a class discussion to determine their analysis. Then I add their ideas to our chart on the board.

Partner Work

20 minutes

The students move to the center tables and each group has a copy of the text, The Ugly Duckling, by Jerry Pinkney.  I choose to use a new text, because I want the student to have practice analyzing fresh illustrations.  If I use illustrations that are connected to stories they already know about I am not giving them true independent practice, because I have discussed the pictures with them. I want the partners to have a chance to practice this skill without previous information or analysis from me or the other students.

The students work with their partner to describe the characters, setting, and events by looking at the pictures.  This is a great book to really look at the events and character development, because the last egg does not hatch at the same time as the others.  I do point out that the students that this book really allows them to analyze and describe the events and character development. The specific images we analyze are in the resource section: Picture 1 Ugly DucklingPicture 2 Ugly DucklingPicture 3 Ugly DucklingPicture 3 Ugly DucklingPicture 4 Ugly DucklingPcture 5 Ugly Duckling.

While the groups are organizing their ideas on the graphic organizer (Illustration Chart), I am walking around to monitor their work.  I also check for understanding and help students get on track. The way I help my students get on track is by asking them questions.  When did the last egg hatch?  What did the other ducklings do to her?  What did she do?  Why did she do that?

Student Reflection

5 minutes

Now it is time to transition to the lounge for the students to practice their speaking and listening skills.  For first graders these skills can be a little rocky at first, so I like to be proactive and go over all of my expectations in the before we do anything.  One thing we always chant is, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor hands in our laps talking no more."  Then I remind the students to look at the speakers, listen, and analyze what they are thinking.  When speaking please speak loud, and enunciate your words.  When I took my class on a field trip around town one day none of the professionals could understand what they were saying.  I could understand them just fine, but I realized that they were not speaking clear.  So, this is part of my mission to get my students speaking better.

Depending on time, I allow two or three students to share their work.  The other students give the speakers feedback on what they did well and how they can improve. I also add my thoughts to confirm the students' ideas.


5 minutes

This is the time I like to wrap up the lesson and assess what the students learned about illustrations.  So, I ask the learners to tell their peanut butter jelly partner one thing they learned about illustrations, and one thing they would like to learn.  As they speak to each other I listen to and make notes on what they know. I also want to plan future lessons based on their interests, so I make  notes about what they want to learn as well.

Last, I ask the class to restate the lesson goal, "I can understand the characters, setting, and events by analyzing the illustrations."  This helps students to remember that this is what we are working on and this will be our focus for the next few lessons.