Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary terms and allusions aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary and allusions found in the book The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. Students will create a spider map of 3-5 terms at the teacher's discretion. Each cell will contain a term or allusion, its definition or description, and an appropriate illustration.

Examples of Vocabulary Terms and Allusions from The Breadwinner

Afghanistan: Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, and Tajikistan and China to the northeast.

breadwinner: a person who earns money to support their family.

burqa: a long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to feet, worn in public by some Muslim women.

chador: a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body leaving only the face exposed, worn especially by Muslim women.

Dari: the form of Persian language spoken in Afghanistan.

decree: an official order issued by a legal authority.

derision: the act of treating with contempt.

distinctive: a feature that helps to identify a person or thing.

Eiffel Tower: a world famous landmark and symbol of France, the Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron tower that is 300 meters high that was constructed in Paris in 1889; for many years it was the tallest man-made structure.

hawk: carry around and offer (goods) for sale, typically advertising them by shouting.

hijab: a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women.

illiterate: inability to read and write.

Kabul: Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country.

labyrinth: a complicated system of paths in which it is difficult to find one's way; a maze.

Malalai: A national folk hero of Afghanistan who rallied Pashtun fighters and was responsible for the Afghan victory at the Battle of Maiwand on July 27, 1880, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.

militia: a non-professional, citizen army.

naan: Naan is a leavened, oven-baked or tawa-fried flatbread which is found in the cuisines mainly of Western Asia, Central Asia, Indian subcontinent, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Caribbean.

nomad: a member of a people who have no permanent home. One who travels from place to place such as hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and tinkers or trader nomads.

Pashto: the Iranian language of the Pashtuns that is an official language of Afghanistan. Also spoken in northern areas of Pakistan.

peddler: a person who goes from place to place selling small items.

poultice: a medical dressing spread on a cloth and applied to the skin.

September 11, 2001: The September 11th attacks, also known as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States where four commercial airplanes were hijacked and crashed two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City and a third one into the Pentagon in Virginia: the fourth plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania. The head of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, hid in Afghanistan and was protected by the Taliban. Because of this, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan.

shalwar kameez: a long tunic worn by people from South Asia.

Soviet War in Afghanistan: The Soviet–Afghan War was a conflict between insurgent groups known collectively as the Mujahideen and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Soviet Army from December 24, 1979 to February 15, 1989 when the Mujahideen were victorious and drove the Soviets out. It is estimated that 1-2 million Afghans were killed in the war while millions more fled as refugees mostly to Pakistan and Iran.

Talib: a member of the Taliban, meaning "student" in Pashto.

Taliban: The Taliban is a fundamentalist Islamic political movement and military organization in Afghanistan that refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, many groups vied for power. The Taliban took control in 1996.

toshak: Persian word for a thin mattress that the family uses for sitting and sleeping.

urn: a large pot for making coffee or tea.

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 spider map that defines and illustrates key vocabulary from The Breadwinner.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the vocabulary terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition or description of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.

Requirements: Must have 3 vocabulary terms, correct definitions or descriptions, and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/3] Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/4] Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/6] Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression


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

Visual Vocabulary Assignment
Define, illustrate, and give an example sentence for any five vocabulary words.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
The definition is correct.
The definition is partially correct.
The definition is incorrect.
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The storyboard cells relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words, but are difficult to understand.
The storyboard cells do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.

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