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Illustrating Knock-Knock Jokes
Content Topic:
Main idea, illustration
An illustrator does his/her job by identifying and visualizing the main idea of text. Students look at how different illustrators illustrate jokes. They discuss why an illustration works identifying the main idea of a joke. They practice illustrating simple main ideas. The students select and illustrate the main idea of a knock-knock joke.
Collaboration Potential:
Classroom teacher and/or art teacher
Total Estimated Time:
45 minutes
Suggested Number Of Sessions:
  • Barrett, Judi. Animals Should Definitely Not Wear ClothingFreyman, Saxton, et al. Knock KnockHall, Katy. Simms Taback’s Great Big Book of Spacey, Shakey, Buggy Riddles
  • Pencils
  • Post-it notes
  • Plain white 8 1/2” x 11” paper
  • Knock-Knock Jokes to Illustrate paper with checklist on the same sheet
  • Document camera or visualizer
Instruction / Activities:

Direct Instruction:

  • TL warms up class by telling a few jokes and asks students what the main idea of one of the jokes was. What made it funny?
  • Ask students what an illustrator’s job is. Discuss how identifying the main idea in the text helps the illustrator make decisions about what to illustrate.


Modeling and Guided Practice:

  • Read Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing. Direct students to identify how the visual puns capture the main idea of the text.
  • Give each child three Post-it notes and a pencil.
  • Ask students to illustrate ‘happy.’ Give them 15 seconds to do this. Ask students to describe what the main idea of ‘happy’ is, visually. Using the visualizer, share a few examples and discuss.
  • Ask students to illustrate the main idea of a ‘house.’ Give them 30 seconds to illustrate. Then discuss and share ideas.
  • For one final time, ask students to illustrate the main idea of a ‘giraffe.’ Give them 30 seconds to illustrate. Then discuss and share ideas.


Independent Practice:

  • Read Knock Knock. Sixteen different illustrators created illustrations for the jokes in the book. Ask the students to think about the main idea and the illustrations.
  • Students are given the “Knock-Knock Jokes to Illustrate Worksheet” (SM1_KnockKnock) with the checklist at the bottom. Each student should have a plain piece of paper and a pencil. Go over the directions with the students. Give the students 5 - 10 minutes to complete worksheet.


Sharing and Reflecting:

  • Student volunteers share their knock-knock joke illustrations on the visualizer.
  • TL and students use the checklists to identify how well they followed directions to illustrate a knock-knock joke.
  • Some students may have chosen the same jokes to illustrate. What makes them the same and different at the same time? Did each student identify the main idea visually?
  • Review again what the illustrator’s job is. After completing this activity, ask students to think about books that they have read; did an illustrator use the main idea to illustrate?


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Presented By: Mary Beth Bauernschub
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