Studying Illustrations with Jerry Pinkey

Pinkey art (8)Third grade is beginning a folktale project that is a collaboration between classroom teachers, the art teacher, and the media center.  This week, we kicked the project off with a lesson in the media center to explore the artwork of Jerry Pinkney, who writes and illustrates many folktales.

Students came to the library during art.  The purpose of this time was to get familiar with Pinkney’s illustrations before students take a field trip to the High Museum of Art  in Atlanta to see an exhibit of Jerry Pinkney’s art.  We wanted students to think about 2 questions.

  • What clues does the illustrator give us about the setting of the story?
  • What clues does the illustrator give us about what the characters are doing in the story?

We started with this video of Jerry Pinkney discussing The Lion and the Mouse.

After the video, I asked the students how Jerry Pinkney started working on the book and what he realized once he made those first steps.  This took our conversation to focus on the importance of illustrations and how they can tell the whole story or how they can work with the text to tell the story.

Next, we looked at this slideshare that showed Caldecott honor and medal winners along with the criteria used to decide the winners.

The purpose of this part was to highlight the many ways you can look at an illustration and how it interacts with the text or tells the story.  Jerry Pinkney has received several Caldecott Honor Awards along with the Caldecott Medal.

Pinkey art (10)Finally, we modeled how someone might study one illustration in a book very carefully and consider our 2 focusing questions.  I used We Give Books to display the book Big Red Lollipop.  Students in each class noticed things such as the red cross as a symbol for a hospital, an envelope on the side of a building to show a post office, the number of buildings close together to show a town, etc.  They also noticed how the character’s hair was blowing in the wind and how her leg was lifted high to show that she was running.  They noticed how she was carrying a letter and smiling to indicate that she was probably going home to show her family something she was excited about.

For the last part of the lesson, students split into groups of 4-5 students.  Each group received 4-5 books by Jerry Pinkney to examine.  Their job was to study the illustrations using the 2 questions just like we did in our model illustration.  As groups talked, the art teacher, art student teacher, and I walked around and chatted with students about what they saw in the illustrations.  We then asked groups to choose one illustration that they wanted to show to another group and discuss.  They used iPads to take a photograph of the illustration.  When they shared with another group, they could zoom in and out of the illustration on the iPads to show the fine details.

In art, students will now have a lesson on museum etiquette  where they will practice the skills it will take to visit a fine art museum.

On the trip to the High on October 23, we will tweet our observations using the hashtag #barrowbuddies.

Next steps will include:

  • Learning elements of folktales.
  • Reading multiple folktales and using a Google form to track the most common elements.
  • Choosing a folktale to read in class without seeing the illustrations.
  • In Art, developing illustrations for that folktale.
  • In the media center, put the illustrations and folktale version together with technology.
  • Share the new creation with the world

We can’t wait to see how this project develops and how Jerry Pinkney’s art inspires what the students create.

2 thoughts on “Studying Illustrations with Jerry Pinkey

  1. Erin says:

    Hi there! I’m just curious what program you used to put the folktale and the students’ illustrations together? Thanks!

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