Aliens at the Window

story by Katie Aaron , illustrated by Queenie Chan

Learning Intention:

I am learning about the way visual features can enhance texts and align with audience expectations based on genre and text type so that I can consider how to create the most effective illustrations for my stories.


Success Criteria:

I can analyse and compare illustrations from fiction texts

  • I can compose a short story using a prompt
  • I can create illustrations that effectively enhance my story.


Understanding text:

Prior to reading the story, show students the illustrations on pages 4 and 5, but cover the title. Ask them to guess what kind of story this will be, based on the illustrations. Write students’ answers on the board, which may include suggestions such as scary, suspenseful, shocking, sci-fi or mystery. Ask students to give reasons for their suggestions based on their prior knowledge of different genres and stories. For example, they may answer:

  • In the picture on page 4, the girl is looking out the window and there is a big light in the sky, which suggests there might be a UFO and her home might be under attack.
  • In the picture on page 5, she has her hands on her ears and there seems to be some sort of flashing light behind her. People look to be panicking and yelling.
  • Her body language in both pictures suggests she is confused and frightened.

Read the title of the story and ask students if this matches their expectations based on the illustrations and discussion. Read the story as a class, or if you have a digital subscription you may wish to play the digital audio.

Following the story, draw students’ attention to the illustrations on pages 6 and 7 and discuss how effectively these visually represent sections of the story (e.g. the motorbike almost filling her room and her shock at finding it, Pappy laughing at the writing on the wall, further confusing Ella). Ask for students’ thoughts on how the illustrations of a story impact their enjoyment and understanding of a story.

Have students turn to page 30 of the magazine and take a few moments to scan the illustrations of the text ‘From the Pen of the Lovely Large Wolf’. Discuss the way that these illustrations also enhance the text through the visual representation of dramatic events and character facial expressions.

Creating text:

Explain to students that they are going to create their own illustrations for a dramatic mystery. Have them fold a piece of paper in half both ways to create four panels, then read them the following story prompt:

Two friends are walking home from school and come across a house in their neighbourhood that they’ve never seen before, despite walking down that same street every day. They are completely baffled and a little frightened, but can’t help going inside…

Students should then create one illustration based on the story prompt to help visually enhance it for the reader. Remind them to focus on the mystery and reactions of the characters. Students should then use this prompt to compose the rest of the story and create three illustrations to accompany it. The School Magazine’s imaginative text assessment rubric may be used to guide students.


Assessment for/as learning:

Provide students with the following questions and ask them to reflect on them independently:

  • Review the Learning Intention and ask yourself whether you feel like you have achieved your learning goal.
  • If you are still working towards this learning goal, what will help you achieve this goal?
  • What do you need help with?
  • What did I find successful?
  • What is really making you think?