Lesson Plan

Amazing Illustrated Digital Stories about Insects (can be any topic!)

Learners write, illustrate, narrate, and publish digital stories to be available on video platforms such as YouTube.
Susan M.
Blended Learning Coach
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Students will be able to...

  • Research and write about a particular topic (for this lesson, butterflies).
  • Differentiate between fact and opinion.
  • Write informational text using facts and details to develop topic. 
  • Bring to life their research by creating digital illustrations. 
  • Create a voice-over for their digital story. 

This lesson/project can be adapted to any research topic. For this project, I used the Painted Lady Butterfly for exemplar. Students have choice on their own insect. 


English Language Arts
Grades 2 – 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Research

For the research stage of this project, provide students with a variety of resources to conduct research on the insect of choice.  Curating resources ahead of time and using a Google Site to organize resources will be helpful for students in the research process. You can also create a customized Google search with only sites you choose. See tutorial HERE. 

Model the research process using the Painted Lady Butterfly (or any topic of your choosing). Teach the difference between fact and opinion using the book Caterpillar to Butterfly  or another similar research resources. Use a typical graphic organizer (Fact vs. Opinion) to help students see and take notes. 

Have students identify and record at least three facts about their insect. 

2 Drafting the Script

Google Drive
Free, Paid

Once students have gathered their facts, teach a review lesson on good beginnings and conclusions. Create a template on Google Docs and share with students through Classroom, allowing them to have their own copy on their Drive. This template should have sentence starters to help frame their script.  You could do something like this:

  1. Intro: "My story is about the ____________________."
  2. Body: "The first interesting fact about ______________ is...." "Another interesting fact is....." Lastly, the _______________ is...."
  3. Conclusion: "I hope you enjoyed my story about the _________________."

Customize and level according to your students. You could also incorporate teaching transition words and with older students, you could develop more fully all three parts of the story. 

Have students confer with each other and with you in order to revise and refine your story. 

For low tech, create the template on paper and have the students write out their responses. 

3 Illustrations

Using an exemplar nonfiction text such as Plants Make Their Own Food, teach students how authors bring to life their stories by choosing visuals to match their text. 

Using  a digital drawing app such as Tayasui Sketches App and have student create five illustrations - one for the intro, one for each of the three facts, and one for the conclusion.

For low tech: if there is not an app available, students can use colored pencil or marker and paper and take pictures of their drawings. 

4 Creating Digital Story

Once students have written their script and created their illustrations, teach them how to use Shadow Puppet Edu. The app is fairly intuitive, but you may want to allow time for them to explore and experiment with the app before creating their digital story. 

Have students import their pictures into Shadow Puppet EDU. This is typical done through the iPad camera, so students will need to take a picture of their illustration if they made them on paper or take a screenshot if they made them on an app. 

Once students have put their illustrations in order, it is now time to record the voiceover. This is best completed in pairs so one child can run the record button and the other can focus on reading the script. 

5 Publishing

Free, Paid

When children are finished with their stories, they will need to export their Shadow Puppet EDU into their camera roll. This is best exported at HD 720 for best viewing on YouTube. Depending on your set-up within your class, have students upload or you upload their stories to YouTube. Create a playlist and share it with the world!