By Teachers, For Teachers

Illuminated Manuscripts


Illuminated Manuscripts: How Can Visual Elements Affect the Way We Experience a Story?

In this lesson, students will read and analyze an excerpt from The Canterbury Tales and look at and analyze the excerpt as it appears in an illuminated manuscript. Students will then create illuminated manuscripts for a piece of their creative writing.

Time: 2 hours

Grades: 6th-8th

    Resources Needed

    • A piece of each student’s creative writing
    • Collections in Context
    • Student Materials

      Lesson Objectives

      By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

      • Read and interpret a pre-modern story.
      • Discuss the ways in which illumination changes their interpretation of a story’s meaning.
      • Identify the differences between reading a story on its own and seeing the story with its
      • visual components.
      • Add visual elements to their creative writing to enhance their narrative.

      By the end of this lesson, students will know:

      • People can use both text and visuals to tell stories.
      • People often incorporate multiple media to convey meaning and create experiences for the reader/viewer/listener.
      • Stories are dynamic, and readers/viewers/listeners bring different interpretations to them over time.

      Supported Standards

      Common Core State Standards–English Language Arts


      Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

      California English Language Development Standards

      ELD PI.1

      Exchanging information and ideas


      Reading/viewing closely



      National Core Arts Standards

      MA: Cr2.1

      Media artists plan, organize, and develop creative ideas, plans, and models into process structures that can effectively realize the artistic idea.

      MA: Re7.1

      Identifying the qualities and characteristics of media artworks improves one’s artistic appreciation of the production.

      MA: Re8.1

      Interpretation and appreciation require consideration of the intent, form, and context of the media and artwork.