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Lesson Plan

Looking at Landmarks: Using a Picture Book to Guide Research

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Looking at Landmarks: Using a Picture Book to Guide Research

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson uses Ben's Dream, a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg, to highlight ten major landmarks of the world: the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Parthenon, the Sphinx, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and Mount Rushmore. After reading and discussing Ben's Dream, students identify the landmarks shown in the book and examine photographs of them. Working in small groups, students select one landmark to research. Using their research skills, students locate these famous landmarks, conduct further research on them, publish their findings using an online tool, and share that information with the class.

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Looking at Landmarks: This online tool provides images of ten landmarks, along with space for taking notes about each one.

Flip Book: Students can publish their work using this online tool, which allows them to type and illustrate tabbed flip books up to ten pages long.

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In a community, landmarks are one of the most recognized things. Landmarks often draw people to a community. What can students learn from these monuments and the surrounding communities? In Writing Our Communities, the editors write, "We believe that students need to engage the multiple communities that surround them and also that those communities benefit from the energy and enthusiasm that students can bring to active citizenship, where citizenship means recovering, critiquing, and actively engaging the world around them" (xi). This lesson provides students an opportunity to learn more about historical landmarks. As an extension to the lesson, they take that research knowledge and apply it to their own local community, a process that also benefits classroom community. As Winter and Robbins explain in Writing Our Communities, "Once teachers encourage their students to research and to write about community, the classroom comes alive in wonderful and unexpected ways. As students learn more about the communities around them, they discover how important keeping community ties and creating new ones can be" (xi).

Further Reading

Winter, Dave, and Sarah Robbins. 2005. Writing Our Communities: Local Learning and Public Culture. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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