Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to Make Creative Characters with Students

Cowboy boot.
My kids have to write monologues. I usually hate doing monologues. Why? Because kids have the worst time using their imaginations. Seriously. My kids are generally so focused on what the right answer is that they forget to be creative. Today, I thought we'd try practicing creativity.

First, I showed them a picture of a young woman sitting in an alley. Her clothes were ragged and she had a black eye. I asked them to write down her name, her age and problem she was dealing with. They had a great time naming our class character and working through a problem she had.

Chinese Zodiac
Next was the really fun part, but it involved a lot of preparation on my part. I brought in a variety of hats, shoes and accessories. We called the lesson Character Creation Stations. I made a hat station, with everything from what my kids call "church hats", to ball caps and beach hats. Next was a shoe station, with cowboy boots, tap shoes, pool shoes, prom shoes, rain boots and golf shoes. I also brought necklaces, watches, purses, ties and gloves for an accessory station. To make it an even four, I printed out information on the Chinese Zodiac for a horoscope station.
Fabulous 1980s fashion accessory, the tee shirt clip

The kids visited each station for five minutes, picking and studying an item and answering a couple questions about the person who would have that item or horoscope and how they would relate to themselves. The kids had a ball playing with the old hats and 1980s and 1990s jewelry. They laughed about their horoscope animals (most of them were rats and pigs). They happily filled out their questions and did so in dead silence because they were so into the activity.

What my students call a "church hat"
When they were finished with the stations, I gave them a worksheet asking for specifics about their new character. I needed their name, age, education, relationship status and on and on. And that's when one of my kid's realized that I was making them fill out a Facebook profile on paper for their character. When they finished their new profile, they wrote a short paragraph with what that character might say or think.

They were great! The kids even said that they had a really fun time with the activity. I definitely recommend this lesson for anyone wanting to introduce character creation to their students. What a fun day! :)

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