Pathway: Storytelling Through Drawing

Pathway for Years 3 & 4

Drawing, Sketchbooks

Key Concepts:

  • That we can tell stories through drawing.

  • That we can use text within our drawings to add meaning.

  • That we can sequence drawings to help viewers respond to our story.

  • That we can use line, shape, colour and composition to develop evocative and characterful imagery. 

In this pathway children explore how we can create sequenced imagery to share and tell stories. 

The pathway starts by introducing two artists: one an illustrator and the other a graphic novelist and author. Children use sketchbooks to gather ideas from the way the artists work. 

There is then a choice of two projects: the first explores the creation of an accordian book – inspired by a piece of literature, exploring how we can use drawing in an illustrative or even fine art sense to tell stories. 

In the other option children draw upon graphic novels and make a comic strip style telling of a piece of poetry. 

Drawing Materials, Paper

Artists: Laura Carlin, Shaun Tan

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Jabberwock - Ellie Somerset
Finished page 1. Based on the poem "A Day in Autumn" by RS Thomas (c) Elodie Thomas. Art by Irina Richards.
A participant comic
ages 9-11

Teaching Notes

Curriculum Links

English: Use The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol as inspiration for this pathway, or choose another story or graphic novel of your choice.

History: Create your own sequenced story inspired by an event in history ie from The Anglo Saxon, The Viking, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Egyptian or The Roman eras.

Science: Use language to support concepts around light and shadow, and how this can be explored on paper through drawing.

PSHE: Supports Collaboration, Peer Discussion.

I Can…

  • I have explored the work of artists who tell stories through imagery. 

  • I can respond to the work of illustrators and/or graphic novelists, “reading” the visual images and sharing my thoughts. 

  • I can work in a sketchbook to record my ideas and thoughts generated by looking at other artists’ work.

  • I can use a sketchbook to generate ideas about how I might respond to a piece of poetry or prose.

  • I can use line, shape, and colour using a variety of materials to test my ideas.

  • I can think about how I might use composition, sequencing, mark making and some text in my drawings.

  • I can create a finished piece which contains sequenced images to describe a narrative. 

  • I can share my work with others and talk about my journey and outcome. I can listen to their feedback and take it on board.

  • I can appreciate the work of my classmates and think about similarities and differences between our work. I can share my feedback on their work.

  • I can take a photograph of my work, thinking about lighting and focus. 


This pathway takes 6 weeks, with an hour per week. Shorten or lengthen the suggested pathway according to time and experience. Follow the stages in green for a shorter pathway or less complex journey.

Watch the “How do Non-Specialist Teachers Teach Art” video if you are a non-specialist teacher to understand how to model an open and exploratory approach.


This pathway takes 6 weeks, with an hour per week. Shorten or lengthen the suggested pathway according to time and experience. Follow the stages in green for a shorter pathway or less complex journey.


Soft B pencils, handwriting pen, coloured pencils, oil/chalk pastels, charcoal, graphite, ink, paints, A2 or A3 cartridge paper (cut & into folded accordion books).


Pathway: Storytelling Through Drawing

  • Aims of the Pathway

    This pathway aims to enable pupils to think about how they can create sequenced drawings to share or tell a story. 

  • Week 1: Introduce Two Artists

    Laura Carlin & Shaun Tan

    The Arrival by Shaun Tan

    Use the “Talking Points: Laura Carlin” and “Talking Points: Shaun Tan” resources to introduce children to 2 artists that tell stories through imagery.

    Laura uses writers’ text to inspire her visuals, working as an illustrator, whilst Shaun Tan creates his illustrations for his own stories, in the genre of graphic novels. 

    Use the “Making Visual Notes” resource to students understand how they can use sketchbooks to gather ideas from the way other artists work, and store them for use later on. 

  • Week 2: Drawing Warm Up

    Drawing Stories

    Illustrations by Children

    Set the scene for the half term by inviting children to “Draw Stories“.  Use toys, poetry and their own text to create richly illustrated narratives, contained within a single drawing.

    Work in sketchbooks or on larger sheets of paper. 

  • Week 3, 4, & 5: Find Your Focus

    Choose your Project

    Choose one of the following projects. Each one enables pupils to explore how they can build and share a story through a series of images. 

  • Option 1: Accordian Book

    Illustrating The Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky - mark making Ellie Somerset

    Explore the “Illustrating The Jabberwocky” resource. You can adapt the teaching ideas in this resource to any text, book, or poetry you choose, but it works best with writing which is rich in evocative imagery. 

    The resource provides plenty of opportunity for children to explore different materials such as charcoal, graphite, ink or pastel.

    Elie Somerset - jaberwocky

  • Or...

  • Option 2: Poetry Comic

    Explore Manga

    Finished page 3. Based on the poem "A Day in Autumn" by RS Thomas (c) Elodie Thomas. Art by Irina Richards.

    Use the “Creating a Poetry Comic” resource to enable children to explore how they might create a comic inspired by poetry. 

    Use sketchbooks to develop ideas. You may also like pupils to turn the comics into a folded zine. 

  • Week 6: Share and Reflect

    Present, Talk, Celebrate

    Illustrated poem Ellie Somerset

    End the pathway by taking time to appreciate the developmental stages and the final outcomes in a clear space.

    Pupils will display the work appropriately to fit with the chosen project including having open sketchbooks. Use the “Crit in the Classroom” resource to help you facilitate the session. 

    Encourage children to reflect upon all stages of the journey, and reference the artists studied. 

    If available, children can use tablets or cameras to take photographs of the work. 

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