ILLUSTRATED WORD – Colour, Symbol, Shape

Students use markers and crayons to create an illustrated word.

Required Time

40 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Visual Arts



Crayola Fine Line Markers Crayola Crayons Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Pencils Rulers Erasers

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ILLUSTRATED WORD – Colour, Symbol, Shape - Step One

Step One

  1. Write your word in large letters.
  2. Think about what the word means.
  3. Imagine what images you could use to show what the word means.
ILLUSTRATED WORD – Colour, Symbol, Shape - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Draw symbols to show what the word means.
  2. Make your design clear and simple.
  3. Outline the drawing with marker.
ILLUSTRATED WORD – Colour, Symbol, Shape - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use crayons to colour the drawing.
  2. Choose colours that will emphasize the meaning.
  3. Try blending 2 colours of crayon, one over top of the other.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use symbols and letters to illustrate the meaning of a word;
  • use crayon colours to emphasize meaning;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


Have students:

  • use air dry clay to create a 3-dimensional version of a word that is meaningful to them;
  • explore other ways to give symbolic meaning to text, for example with the Decorated Letter lesson available on this website;
  • collect magazine images of clever ways text has been used to convey meaning;
  • share their ideas with the class.


  1. Prior to this lesson print a selection of appropriate words from your vocabulary list on small pieces of paper - one per student.
  2. Place the words in a container large enough for students to reach in and pull out a word.
  3. Download and display the Colour and Shape posters available on this website.
    - review or teach the elements of colour and shape – colour harmonies, positive/negative shapes
  4. Gather, and make available, books with alphabets and word art, for example, Alphabatics, by Suse MacDonald; and Alphabetica, by Lynne Perrella.
  5. Download a cave painting image from the Internet.
    Agawa Rock Painting
  6. View information about the pictograph at Agawa Canyon at the Canadian Encyclopedia site.


  1. View and discuss the rock painting,
    - it is a pictograph
    - it is part of a story painted on rocks in the Lake Superior Provincial Park
    - one of Canada's most famous pictographs
    - painted by an Anishinaabe warrior
    - large figure is the Great Lynx or Panther known as Mishepeshu
    - he lives in the lake and can cause a storm if he doesn't want canoes to pass 
    - very old paintings likely made in the 1600s
  2. Discuss how early peoples made pictures to tell their stories and that gradually language evolved to alphabet words.
  3. Write a word in large letters on a chart paper.
  4. Ask students to explain what the word means and then make a list of images that could express that meaning.
  5. Demonstrate how you can add symbols and shapes to the letters of the word, or change the way you write the letters to show what the word means.
  6. Have students randomly draw a word from the container.
  7. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use symbols and letters to illustrate the meaning of a word.
  2. Use crayon colours to emphasize meaning.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  4. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when my word illustration:
    - clearly shows the meaning of the word
    - uses shapes and symbols to convey meaning
    - is carefully planned and completed 
    - uses colour to emphasize meaning
    - is simple and clear 
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - share their work and discuss the things that are especially effective and why
    - talk about how the illustrated words might affect their ability to remember how to spell the word

    - talk about what they found satisfying about doing this project
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their drawings – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the drawing, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – IllustratedWord_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – IllustratedWord_self-assessment.pdf)