Travels with Charley - From Words to Pictures
Art, Reading Comprehension
6 – 12
Type of Activity
Individual, Artistic, Small Group, Ongoing
- Students will improve their reading comprehension, particularly when reading descriptive passages.
- Students will practice their art composition skills.
Steinbeck’s writings are known for their vivid descriptions. In this activity, students adapt a short passage from Travels with Charley into a visual form. This can be done in traditional artistic forms, or can be done with a computer.
- Arts supplies
- Copies of Travels with Charley
- If allowing students to work in assigned groups, have the groups prepared prior to class.
- This activity requires at least one class period. The teacher should determine how
much time to spend on this activity and adjust it accordingly.
- Consider having students work on or finish this activity at home.
- If using the warm-up activity listed below in the “Procedures” section, have a basket or box of items prepared (see below for more details).
1 class period (minimum).
- Warm-up activity. (Consider assigning this activity as a homework assignment the day
- Have students choose blindly from a box of objects. The objects can be of any type (common, unique, part of a whole, etc.)
- Give students 5-7 minutes to write a description of the object, without using the
- The goal is to create a written description that makes it clear exactly which object is being described.
- At the end of the given time, collect all the items and display them on a table in
front of the class.
- Have a few student volunteers read their descriptions.
- See if classmates can determine which object is being described.
- Discuss what kinds of figurative and descriptive language students used (or could have used).
- Have each student (or small group) choose a descriptive passage from Travels with Charley.
- Students should copy down the descriptive passage on a separate piece of paper. (This will be attached to the back of the final product.)
- Have students draw, sketch, paint, etc., the scene.
- The aim is to interpret the scene, but to also create a visual rendition of the passage so that classmates can determine which passage is being drawn.
- Post Activity
- Art Gallery
- Display student creations. Allow time for the class to mill around the art gallery.
- Consider allowing students to write comments (on a separate sheet of paper, not on the art work).
- Consider having students write what passage they think is being described (page and paragraph number will do; again, provide a separate sheet of paper)
- Individual Presentation
- Have students/groups present their artwork.
- Consider having the rest of the class guess which passage was chosen as the inspiration.
- Discuss what figurative and descriptive language was used in the artwork. What particular words and phrases were used to create the visual representation? Which words and phrases were not used?
- Art Gallery
- Students should come away from this activity with a greater understanding and appreciation for the descriptive and figurative language used in Travels with Charley.
- This activity can be repeated multiple times throughout the book.
- When assessing student art, take into consideration individual student progress in the particular artistic style used.
- Depending on what skills students have learned and mastered from Art class, assess how well students utilized different artistic elements (vanishing perspective, shading, etc.).
California State Content Standards Met
- Visual Arts: Content Standards 6-12
- Artistic Perception: 1
- Creative Expression: 2
- Connections, Relationships, Applications: 5
Common Core State Standards Met
- Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
- Craft and Structure: 4
- Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
- Craft and Structure: 4
- Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
- Comprehension and Collaboration: 1
- Language Standards
- Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 5