K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • understand that the Caldecott Award is given for a book’s illustrations.
  • discuss how the illustrations are created and what they believe makes an award-winning illustration.
  • create their own paper, as Ezra Jack Keats did, and will complete illustrations using critical thinking skills.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3 Hours


  • The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, as well as any other book illustrated by him using the technique of collage.
  • water, oil paint, pans (enough for each pair of students or small group).
  • colored paper, cotton balls and swabs, or any other collage materials.
  • criteria for a Caldecott winning book (found on the suggested website list).


The students should be aware of book awards by recognizing them on front covers of books. Students should also have some experience working in pairs or small groups.


  1. Show the students the Caldecott award-winning book, The Snowy Day. Explain that this book won a special award for its illustrations.
  2. Before reading the book, ask the students what they think this book’s illustrations will include to be an award-winning book. What should the book include by thinking of its title?
  3. Read the book, allowing the students to have enough time to look at the illustrations. After the reading, go back to the illustrations and discuss what materials the students think Mr. Keats used to complete his illustrations.
  4. Going back to the criteria of a Caldecott winner, how do the students feel this book is award-winning? Why do they think this book won? The teacher should show a favorite picture in this book and explain why she/he feels it is a favorite. Ask students to do the same by coming up and showing the picture they like the best and explaining why. Make sure the students qualify their answers with specifics such as colors or materials used or an accurate description of a really snowy day.
  5. Explain to the students that Ezra Jack Keats used the technique of collage with this book, as well as with others. You may want to show his other books at this time, such as Jennie’s Hat. How do the students think he completed this technique? Mr. Keats used papers with different designs to make his illustrations interesting. His collages also included marblized paper. Show the students how to do this by:
    • Adding water to a shallow pan and putting in different colors of oil paint in the pan, swirling after each addition with a stick or dowel. Add a piece of paper to show this effect and let sit for a bit in the water. Take out and let dry.
    • This technique needs to be done outdoors. Check with your school system if your students can use oil paints themselves. If they can, in small groups or pairs allow the students to work on their own marblizing outside. If the students are not permitted to use oil paints, try tie-dying cloth to get a similar effect.
  6. Talk about what should be included in an illustration for a snowy day. What would the students like to see? What would they include? Using collage materials, such as colored paper, cotton balls and swabs, wallpaper samples, magazines, etc., have the students depict either their favorite picture from the book or design their own picture using only these materials. No drawing is allowed! Creativity should be coming from the materials themselves. Another option may be to not allow the students to use scissors or crayons for a different effect. You may want the students to just use crayons to draw faces but nothing else.


The students will explain the criteria for a Caldecott winner by comparing the criteria with this award-winning book.

The students will successfully complete the directions for marblizing by completing their own product.

The students will create a product by using different forms of media using texture and dimension.

Supplemental information


This lesson included the help of some assistants during the marblizing process. The entire lesson was completed in one 45 minute periods in three days.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Visual Arts Education (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.CR.1 Use critical analysis to generate responses to a variety of prompts. 1.CR.1.1 Use appropriate art terminology to express personal opinions about art. 1.CR.1.2 Explain how and why personal works of art are made, focusing on media and process.
        • 1.CX.1 Understand the global, historical, societal, and cultural contexts of the visual arts. 1.CX.1.1 Recognize how visual arts are used in customs and traditions of various cultures. 1.CX.1.2 Identify images in art as depicting something old (historic) or...
        • 1.V.1 Use the language of visual arts to communicate effectively. 1.V.1.1 Identify tools, media and processes. 1.V.1.2 Create original art that expresses ideas, themes, and events. 1.V.1.3 Recognize that symbols, subjects, or themes are used in the works of...
        • 1.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 1.V.3.1 Use a variety of tools safely and appropriately to create art. 1.V.3.2 Execute control of a variety of media. 1.V.3.3 Use the processes of drawing, painting,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will EXPLORE sources and formats for reading, listening, and viewing purposes.
    • Objective 1.01: Participate in read-aloud, storytelling, booktalking, silent and voluntary reading experiences.
  • Goal 2: The learner will IDENTIFY and USE criteria for excellence to evaluate information and formats.
    • Objective 2.01: Identify published criteria of excellence for resources.
  • Goal 5: The learner will COMMUNICATE reading, listening, and viewing experiences.
    • Objective 5.01: Respond to reading, listening, viewing experiences orally, artistically, dramatically through various formats.
    • Objective 5.02: Produce media in various formats (e.g., pictorial, multimedia).

Visual Arts Education (2001)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.
    • Objective 1.01: Understand the purpose of the activity.
  • Goal 2: The learner will develop skills necessary for understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.
    • Objective 2.01: Become familiar with additional basic art media, techniques and processes which may include: fibers - papermaking and paper weaving.
    • Objective 2.02: Use various techniques to create visual effects using texture.