Friday, February 13, 2009


I just finished up an awesome comics project with the third grade. We've been working on it since the beginning of January and most kids didn't want to stop.

We started by looking at wordless comics. I found a few in some books my husband has and made copies for the class. They had to look at the pictures and tell ME the story. We talked about how the artists used symbols, facial expressions and body movements to tell the story. We even acted out a few of the comic strips. Then I had a few kids stand at the front and show me how they would move their bodies to show certain emotions or scenarios. I said that when drawing comics, acting out the scene is a great way to figure out how to draw your characters. Just see what your body does and draw it.

Then I gave them some cute supershort wordless comics and had them spend 5 minutes writing the story in their sketchbooks, without any discussion.We read a few of them afterwards and it was awesome to see the differences and similarities in their stories.

The next day I gave them copies of stories (short fables from their language arts book) and had them split the stories up into six chunks. They actually circled and numbered the six sections of the stories. Then I had them underline any words or phrases that would be useful in helping them draw their comics. This was stuff like time of day, description of the scene, emotions, and anything else that they could represent visually.

Then I gave them a letter sized sheet of paper with six boxes on it and they sketched out their comic. As they were doing this, we talked about the different kinds of shots you'd see in a movie (wide angle, close up, extreme close up and so on) and why you'd choose a particular one over another in a story. We talked about that they could use different angles as well.

We also talked about word bubbles, how to rephrase and shorten the dialogue, and how to really communicate the story with less words.

After they drew their practice (sloppy copy) I gave them an 12X18 sheet of drawing paper with the 6 comics frames and a title frame printed on it. They transferred their drawings lightly with pencil onto these, then "inked" them by tracing over their lines with black felt tip markers. Then they erased any stray pencil lines. Finally the colored them in with prismacolor pencils.

I was really afraid that this would project was dragging on too long and that I was making them do too much preplanning. But the kids have told me that they loved it. Several boys who normally drag their feet and just don't understand my assignments had no trouble with this one. They jumped right on board and did great with little to no prompting. Lots of kids came in before school to work extra on this project as well. They are really proud of them, and I am proud of the kids.

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