Activity Overview

Allusions are present in many stories, referencing actual people, places, events, art, and literature. They help to plunge the reader into the time period in which the story takes place. Allusions can reference the political, social, artistic, and technological influences that are present in the characters' lives and, therefore, provide greater insight into the characters' thoughts and motivations.

Allusions provide important connections for readers to understand themes and characters on a deeper level. However, they can sometimes be hard for students to grasp, especially if they do not have the background knowledge to understand them. That is why it is important to point out and delve into allusions when they appear in a story so that students can learn their significance, and then analyze how their meaning enhances our understanding of the point the author is trying to make.

A great way for students to keep track of allusions in a story is in a visual and descriptive way using storyboards! Using the example and template provided in this assignment, teachers can have students track the allusions and their context in the work, and then after researching or class discussions, have them integrate a new cell that explains how that allusion enhances the meaning or the events of the work.

Allusion Definition:

Allusions are references to well-known

  • Events
  • People or Characters
  • Works of Art or Literature
  • Places
  • Religions

Allusions in Literature

To tailor or scaffold this activity, teachers may provide students with a list of allusions before reading, before a new chapter, or afterward. They may also edit the template to add more cells depending on how many allusions they would like students to identify. Teachers can add as many templates as they want for differentiation and student choice! Be sure to update the student instructions as necessary.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that identifies allusions present in the book. Allusions are references to actual people, places, events or works of art or literature. Illustrate each allusion and write a short description below each cell.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify different allusions made in the text.
  3. Describe the meaning of the allusion in the description.
  4. Illustrate the allusion with appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. In the next cell, explain how that allusion enhances the meaning or the events of the story using an illustration and description.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/1] Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/9] Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/1] Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/7] Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/9] Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Tracking Allusions
As we read and discuss, identify and track the different allusions that appear in the work. For each allusion, create a scene that depicts the original meaning of the allusion, along with the quote and some background information. Then, create a scene that depicts the impact of that allusion on the deeper meaning of the work, along with a short analysis. Make sure the scenes you depict are historically and factually accurate, both to the allusion itself, and to the work of literature. Your scenes need to be neat, eye-catching, and reflect creativity and care. Please proofread your writing and organize your ideas thoughtfully.
25 Points
19 Points
13 Points
The allusion and its depiction are historically or factually accurate. The quote which contains the allusion is included, or context is given for the quote's place in a brief summary.
The allusion and its depiction may be slightly inaccurate historically or factually. The quote may be missing or no context is given.
The allusion and its depiction have serious errors in accuracy. The quote and/or context are missing, or there is no description at all.
How It Enhances Meaning
The allusion's connection to the work is accurate and thoughtful, with meaningful commentary provided to accompany the scene.
The allusion's connection to the work is slightly inaccurate, or only partially described. The commentary may be too limited.
The allusion's connection to the work has serious errors in accuracy. The commentary may also be missing or incomplete.
Artistic Depictions
The art chosen to depict the scenes are historically appropriate to both the allusion and to the work of literature. Time and care is taken to ensure that the scenes are neat, eye-catching, and creative.
The art chosen to depict the scenes should be historically appropriate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. Scene constructions are neat, and meet basic expectations.
The art chosen to depict the scenes are historically inappropriate. Scene constructions are messy and may create some confusion, or may be too limited.
English Conventions
Ideas are organized. There are few or no grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas are mostly organized. There are some grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas may be disorganized or misplaced. Lack of control over grammar, mechanics, and spelling reflect a lack of proofreading.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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