Character desire and motivation are key elements in stories. This activity gets kids to practice showing character motivations in visual form, and how that leads to a character taking action.
This lesson works well for kids aged 7-10, especially as a literacy lesson or creative writing lesson!
In-balloon panels are a technique used in comics to show what a character is thinking or saying by using an image. Dialogue may or may not also be in the balloon.
Although this technique has existed for a long time, this term "In-Balloon Panel" seems to have originated from the Comics Devices website. See the link for some examples!
These balloons can be either speech balloons or thought balloons, but we'll use thought balloons for this exercise.
In books, characters may not always say or think outright, "I want _____". Readers usually have to infer what characters want, through their dialogue or actions. In comics, using a thought bubble to illustrate what a character is thinking can be an effective way to show their daydreams, goals, and even fears.
Svetlana Chmakova does this effectively in her graphic novel Brave. In Brave, Jensen dreams of being a hero, but struggles with school and friends in reality.
You can ask the class what they think the desires or dreams of famous characters are. If you have anime lovers in your class, One Piece is amazing for this, as the characters explicitly state their ambitions and dreams repeatedly throughout the series. The Wizard of Oz is another great one.
You can also use any recent book you've read together.
What does Monkey D. Luffy want? To become King of the Pirates.
What does Roronoa Zoro want? To become the greatest swordsman ever.
What does Dorothy want? To get home.
What does the Scarecrow want? To have a brain.
Ask students to imagine a character running for student council. Brainstorm some ideas together: Why does this person want to join student council?
Examples to write on the board:
Here's a downloadable template you can use with your class, and a filled-out one you can use as an example.
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Fonts used in header images: Goldie Boxing by Balpirick Studio.
Fonts used in comics: Pancake Pen by Sara Linsley.
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