Comic and Film Strip Writing Lesson

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Language Arts, Writing, Writing Process, Traits of Writing, Art, Mediums, Techniques

Grade 3- 5

Objective

Students will tell a short, funny story with the use of words and pictures. Students will be able to express themselves using comedic writing and pictures. This type of writing encourages students to be creative and to use detailed pictures to express the plot of a story.

Directions

Multiple Intelligence Connections
Linguistic-Write a dialogue or story line of a comic or filmstrip.
Spatial-Illustrate a comic or film strip.
Bodily-Kinesthetic-Manipulate a film strip; sequence a scrambled comic strip.
Logical-Mathematical-Sequence the logical order of a comic; determine the number of boxes needed for a comic or film strip.
Interpersonal-Peer edit work; share work with the class or partner.
Intrapersonal-Write a first draft; practice for an oral presentation.
Musical-Create a theme song or sound effects for a comic strip; analyze cartoons and their theme songs.
Naturalist-Create a comic about nature and the environment.

Instructions

Creating a Comic Strip
  1. Encourage students to look at various comic strips and discuss what they think the artist is trying to say or the theme of the story being told. Analyze the type of characters in the strips and how the author only uses a limited number of boxes to tell a story of. Also, discuss how students can improve the comic strip or if it even needs to be improved. (Note: Pick a well-known comic strip and compare it to an unknown one. Ask students what they think makes one comic strip so popular.)
  2. Distribute a piece of lined paper and a piece of blank paper or Worksheet #1 to each student. Brainstorm various ideas about which students want to write. Students may pick a topic in which they are interested in for their first comic strips or you may assign a topic.
  3. Allow students to decide what their characters are like and what story they want to write about them. Tell them to write a few notes describing the characters on the lined paper.
  4. Encourage students to write a short paragraph about the story line under their character descriptions for their comic strips.
  5. Instruct students to break their short story into sections. They can do this through either story events or changes in setting.
  6. Students draw a detailed picture that explains what each section is about on unlined paper folded into eight squares, or they may use Worksheet #1. Remind students to leave room for dialogue.
  7. On the unlined paper or Worksheet #1, have them transfer the pictures and words needed to help the comic strip make sense.
Creating a Film Strip
A film strip can be used to sequence the events of a story or for students to write their own stories.
The following are directions for sequencing stories.
  1. Read a story or a chapter book as a class.
  2. Discuss the main events of the story.
  3. Distribute Worksheet #2. Instruct students to sequence the main events of the story in the order that they happened.
  4. Direct students to choose four main events, in the story, to illustrate, that will help describe the plot of the story.
  5. In the boxes on Worksheet #2, instruct students to illustrate the four events in the order in which they happen. Tell students they will need to write a sentence summarizing the event in each box on the lines below it. (Note: Challenge the students by instructing them to summarize the story in paragraph format, and to use only four boxes to illustrate it.)
Comic Boxes
  1. Explain to students that they are going to learn about onomatopoeia. Tell them that onomatopoeia is a big word used to describe sounds like oink or bark. These words imitate the sound that an object makes, like a clock ticking, a person humming, or an animal growling.
  2. Brainstorm different objects or things and the sounds they make. For example, cat--meow; dog--bark; clock--tick--tock, etc.
  3. Distribute Worksheet #3. Instruct students that they are going to draw a picture of an object and the sound it makes in the comic boxes on the worksheet. There should be two objects per box, and the objects should be related.
Variations

Emerging Writers
Cut apart a comic strip and make a transparency of each frame. Display the frames one at a time, allowing students to predict what will happen next in the strip. Cut apart a progressive comic strip, scramble it, and have students put it back in order. After students have practiced with various comic strips, make a properly sequenced strip with students using Worksheet #3. Display transparencies of amusing drawings without captions or other text. Ask students to suggest funny captions or text for dialogue bubbles. Students can use their ideas for the basis of a comic or filmstrip.

Experienced Writers
Have students do some research on the history of comic strips. Also, research artists who create comic strips. If students are especially interested in comic strips, have them write a longer and more in-depth comic book following the same instructions above. Students can also take an issue that they may face in their daily lives and make a strip about it. For mature students, the comic strip can be about a political issue. They can study political cartoons in political magazines or newspapers for ideas. Finally, students can compare and contrast different comic strips.

Evaluation
The instructor will be able to check the final project for the following items:
  • Did the student separate the story into different sections?
  • Did the pictures match each section?
  • Did the comic strip make sense and follow a sequence?
  • Did the student spell the words correctly?

Extensions
  1. Watch cartoons in order to listen to their theme songs. Discuss how the songs match the characters or theme of the show. Ask students to write their own theme songs for their comic strip.
  2. Compare and contrast the differences between a comic strip and a television cartoon based on that comic strip.
  3. Seek out collections of older comics and ask older students to study them. What themes were important then that seem old-fashioned now? What themes have remained the same?
  4. Make simple animated flip books, such as a child kicking a ball. Discuss with students how they will need to think about motion and slow it down by drawing many pictures. Students draw their animated activity on small sheets of paper. They should flip their books before stapling them in order to see if they need to add more drawings. When the drawings are completed, staple them along one side and invite students to exchange their flip books with one another.

Resources

  • student copies of Worksheet #1, Comic Strips (optional)
  • student copies of Worksheet #2, Film Strips
  • pencil
  • lined paper
  • markers
  • unlined paper

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