Overview: This lesson teaches text complexity through both the reading lens and the visual art lens using the text of Robinson Crusoe.

Today’s lesson combines Common Core literature reading standards and visual art standards.  It’s so incredible how many ELA Common Core Standards you can meet when using an Arts Integration lesson – it really is a time-saver!

This lesson pairs Robinson Crusoe and NC Wyeth’s illustrations to explore point of view, illustration technique, and synthesis of text. Written for Grade 4, the text complexity of the selected chapter conveys this new sense of rigor. And, the materials are all hyperlinked for you.  There’s even an extension comparing the works of NC, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth through a research project. This can be connected to the corresponding writing standards for 4th grade.  This rich lesson seed will provide you with a great way to engage your students while pushing their boundaries in literature.


Step 1: Students visually study Robinson Crusoe Illustration No. 13 by NC Wyeth using this Puzzle, Think, Explore technique. Create a categorized list of student responses.

Step 2: Ask students to now look at the colors, light and dark shading, and textures of the print and summarize this scene from the point of view of the Captain. Then, have them do the same thing from the point of view of Robinson Crusoe.

Step 3: Provide students with an excerpt from Robinson Crusoe for Chapter 27. Ask them to read the selection carefully to find any comparisons between the text description and their previous ideas of the scene based on the illustration.

Step 4: Compare the textual nuances of phrasing, word choice, and voice to the use of shading, textures and color used in the illustration. Do they match? How so? How does the illustration capture the feeling of the text? Provide an opportunity for students to compare and contrast in small groups these (and other) questions of inquiry.

Step 5: Groups can present their findings to the whole class and engage in a discussion on the similarities and differences between the text and the illustration in capturing the scene.

Step 6: Have students reflect on how reading printed text and reading a visual art print are the same and different and what decoding techniques you need to use for each source