Illuminated Letters Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

After this lesson plan, your students may never look at doodling the same way again! After discussing Illuminated Manuscripts, your students will have the chance to create their own.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson students should be able to complete the following:

  • Describe the importance of Illuminated Manuscripts
  • Explain their development


30 minutes, plus 20-30 minutes for the activity

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Key Words

Students should pay special attention to these words during the lesson:

  • Illuminated Manuscript
  • Vellum
  • Scriptorium
  • Drolleries


Students will need art supplies, such as colored pencils, markers, crayons, or (for the really skillful) paint for the associated activity.


Ask students if they have ever been bored and started doodling. Ask them what they doodle about. Is it always random? Or is it sometimes related to what they are doing?


Read the lesson What is an Illuminated Manuscript, then discuss the following points:

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