I recently saw this resource and thought how useful it would be to teach about story structure but couldn’t quite see my way into how i might start to use it with children. I do, however, remember reading my most favourite book of the year last year – Syllabus by Lynda Barry. This is the book of her syllabi for imagination/comics/originiality/writing and so, so much more. I can’t tell you how much i enjoyed it and actually practise some of the things that she sets her students to do.
Some of her ways into drawing and story would really suit introducing children to comics and making full use of the resource offered by Ways with Words, who also have resources linked to comics.
Barry introduces her students to drawing characters as Ivan Brunetti describes. We can all draw circles, triangles and wavy lines and therefore we can all draw characters. Practising drawing them in different positions is really useful and exploring them in different settings very supportive for story-making. Barry includes copying photographs and other people’s drawings/cartoons as ways of looking and moving your arm/hand in different ways. Allow children to do this to find their cartoon characters. A good way to develop this is a Drawing Jam. Fold a piece of paper into 8 rectangles and draw a line across the top of each box to create a space for a heading. On your piece of paper write in the heading box the name of an occupation or style of person e.g. robbber, demon, superhero etc. Pass the paper on to the person next to you who writes another occupation and so on until all 8 headings have been completed. Take your paper back and then in the spaces underneath you have 1 minute for each box to draw the character in the heading. No stick people allowed. This kind of activity produces a kind of original drawing that is always fantastic.
Ask the children to choose one of the characters from their drawing jam and draw it again but this time on a rectangle of card. Imagine where this character is and draw in the background. With a partner talk about the sorts of stories that this character is in, what happens to them and what you like about them.
Take 6 more cards and choose from this list to draw on them:
- draw a scene that shows the setting for a story
- a scene that shows your character in a day to day activity – what an average day is like
- a scene that introduces another character
- a scene about an object or special trait that your character has
- a scene that shows your character engaged in a significant action
- something from your character’s childhood
- your character talking to someone, trying to persuade them
- the climactic scene for your character
- what happens a day later to your character
- a year later
Order your cards and see how they might fit into the comic layout introduced as the first resource in this post. Talk your story to a parner. What is needed in the gaps to complete the story. Draw cards to fill in the gaps.
You can now create your comic using the format from Ways with Words.
Do you teach comic making in your class?