For comic teachers, one common challenge is that students often want to tackle extremely ambitious, multi-page projects. But that takes... a lot of time and patience that can wear down or burn out a child, and take some of the joy out of it.
I like to start students off with a comic that's only a single page, so it give them the accomplishment of completing something.
Finding kid-friendly examples of one-page comics is often very hard! Below, I provide some examples along with approaches for one-page comics that you can use with your classes.
This can take the form of just writing a simple script on the board together. Or, if you have a handout, do an example of how to fill out the handout together.
Some teachers may agree with my approach on this point, haha, so do take this one with a grain of salt. "Pantsing" comes from the term "flying by the seat of your pants", and it's when a writer improvises the story as they go along.
I may be a stickler for this, but I think the most important skill to teach in making comics is planning. In a one-page comic, it's especially important that the story gets wrapped up within the confines of one page. I want to discourage students from just making each panel up as they go, and they get to the end and run out of panels and instead of making their comic end on a satisfying note, they'll just write "To be continued!". Gah! It's a pet peeve of mine! Of course, that's fine for expressing creativity or just having fun! But I think it's nice to show kids how to create complete story arcs, with a logical ending. Ok, rant over.
Now, for some frameworks for comics!
I use this approach most often. You provide a handout with very specific prompts (almost like leading questions, hah) to get kids to generate characters and events that fit a contained structure you've already come up with. This gives your students an outline, which they can then use to make their story. This is well-suited to Grades 2-5, or or children less confident in their writing skills, because the instructor is already providing the majority of the structure, leaving kids with the fun part: customizing and drawing!
Choose two animals
Choose a personality trait for each animal
Answer these questions:
Use this formula:
Mislead the reader...
This format is taken from Jason Wren's tutorial. It's a great breakdown of what makes a funny comic work. It may be a bit abstract for elementary school students, so you may need to come up with supplementary structure if using with children younger than junior high.
More examples that are appropriate for kids:
Nerd and Jock (especially early episodes)
Something we expect to be scary... is revealed to be something cute!
Someone we expect to be mean... is revealed to be doing something nice!
This approach is best for teaching literary devices, or tying your comic lesson to a book you've studied together. You could ask students to write a comic narrated by one of their favourite characters from the book!
I used this approach to teach personification.
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Fonts used in header images: Bitcheese, Goldie Boxing.
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