Connecticut Core Standards

Kindergarten: Document-Based Inquiry - Illustration Detectives: Gingerbread People

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Common Core Standards

Reading Literature

RL.K.6 With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

RL.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

RL.K.9 With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.

RL.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.


W.K.1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is...).

Speaking and Listening

SL.K.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

Description of Unit

This Kindergarten unit titled “Document-Based Inquiry - Illustration Detectives: Gingerbread People” by Cora Larson and adapted by Idaho Core Coaches is posted on The ELA/LITERACY instructional time needed to complete this unit is open- ended. (The author notes it could take “several days.”) Using six different variations of the gingerbread man story in Read-Alouds, the lessons activities ask students to: carefully “read” illustrations in order to make claims and predictions about characters and settings; provide evidence to support their claims and find similarities and differences in familiar stories; differentiate between the role of the author and illustrator; develop the understanding that authors and illustrators work together, using different means, to accomplish the same goal of helping the reader understand the story; discuss what can be learned from illustrations, if words are necessary to tell a story, and whether words or illustrations are more important. As a summative assessment, students individually are presented in a personal conference setting a photocopy of a fictional character from a story (the gingerbread kid), make a claim or prediction about the character and/or setting, and provide at least 3 pieces of evidence from the illustration for support. Then, students illustrate a cover for their own story, including a title, illustrations, and the setting. Finally, in a second personal conference setting, each student names two ways in which her/his gingerbread person is similar to the original GB Man and two ways in which his/her gingerbread person is different from the original GB Man.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that in order to teach this unit with the rigor intended in the CCSS, they will need to add discrete instruction for speaking and listening in groups and to embed more vocabulary instruction into the activities. Depending on the students’ needs, more scaffolding may be necessary. Additional copies of the different versions of the gingerbread man story will have to be found/gathered, at least for the teacher. The titles used in this unit are: Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski, The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires , The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst, The Gingerbread Man retold by Gaby Goldsack, and The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School by Joan Holub.

Rationale for Selection

This unit is a good example of how to cultivate students interest and engagement in “reading” illustrations, writing/drawing, and speaking about texts. The activities make Read-Alouds a central focus of instruction and include regular opportunities for students to ask and answer questions. Instruction addresses expectations and the plans are easy to understand and use for teachers. The unit provides all students with extensive opportunities to engage with grade-level texts and Read-Alouds that are at high levels of complexity so that students directly experience the complexity of the text. There are rubrics for the summative assessments. This unit structure is transferrable to nearly any other topic (fiction and informational text alike) or grade level. For example, the topic could be penguins and the visuals for Phase I could be of penguins in their natural habitat. Phases II and III could be informational texts that help students to revisit the visuals and better understand them. This unit structure would also be great for interpreting artwork and defending the interpretations.