Teaching Ideas

Character Portraits

Submitted by Simone (10-10-2012)

This is partly reading as well as writing but thought I'd add this anyway.

Once a book has been read, with a particularly good character to use for this activity, children re-draw the face of the chosen character on a blank piece of white paper trying to use much of the paper as possible.

Once they've drawn their character, they staple a piece of writing paper behind it so that when they lift up the character's face, you'll see their writing paper behind it.

They then cut out the character's face and once they've done that, they write from the character's point of view on the writing paper to create a fantastic book activity combined with writing!

Great activity and the kids love it. You could also make your own character portrait and then just give kids the opportunity to write or they could do it all on their own.

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What others are saying...

jo_ms (10-10-2012)

Great activity Simone,
I have heard it called an 'open minded portrait' and I have seen them used right through from grade 1 to grade 6.

A nice way to get the kids into the right 'head space' (bad pun) is to do a character hotseat.
This is a dramatic arts activity where the student sits on the 'hotseat' and takes on the role of the particular character.

Other students (and the teacher) can ask them questions and the student answers them as if they are the actual character. This helps them find the voice of the particular character.

Amy (10-10-2012)

I have used character hotseating in the classroom and it was incredibly successful. I used it with an internet program called "Build Your Wild Self" www.buildyourwildself.com - this is a great website from the Wildlife Conservation Society where kids create an avatar starting with designing their human self and then choosing various animal parts to create their "wild self".

I created my own and then modelled the hotseating - having the kids ask my character questions and me answering them in character, as well as moving and speaking as that character with those animal parts (they were a little hesitant at first but then really engaged and loved asking "Melanie" questions.)
After the kids created their own I had them do small group hotseating (giving them some guidelines) and also having one person act as a scribe, writing down how the characters moved, spoke etc. I printed off all the characters in colour and laminated each one for the kids to use as a prompt in hotseating and writing.

Other activities that supported this were writing character profiles (well scaffolded), jointly constructing narratives using some of the characters and eventually they wrote a story plan and structured narrative using their own character.

The kids were totally engaged and enthused. Some of the ones who usually struggle with writing really came out of their shell and produced fantastic work. It also challenged the ones who always do well as they had to think/work in a different way.

The kids loved their characters - some even created games on the playground using them.

I did this with Year 4 but this could be modified to almost any age group.


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