I had great results in the past using cartoons and comics in my language classes. There are many ways to do it, and each of them appeal to the kids in different ways. Although they could be used with all student age range, the comic activities are particularly efficient with Elementary and Middle school.
Create your superhero
A good way to start a unit integrating comics and cartoons would be for each student to create they own superhero. This would be perfect for a first unit, like “Identity” where you introduce adjectives to define a person. The student has to create a file where he/she gives essential information about his/her character. For exemple:
- Superhero’s name
- Secret identity
- Secret base
The list of attribute could go one… The task here is to create a hero that could be used later, and be presented to the rest of the class. With higher grades, you could dwell deeper in the character’s past, or introduce more character in its entourage. Of course, with the presentation file must come a drawing or illustration representing the superhero.
Before going to the sketching board, have your students write a plan, or a script of what the story will be about. It can be a full album, a one page, or only a three/four square strip, but the important thing is to have a written script ahead of time (before drawing). In the script, your student will describe what we see in the squares, but more importantly what the character(s) say in the speech bubbles (all that in the target language, of course). To help your student write their script, you can create a simple template that you ask them to fill out, for example:
- What we see
- What we hear:
- Speech bubble 1:
- Speech bubble 2:
After the script is done, your student can get started to create their comic. They can make their own template, or you can distribute a few paper templates as well. There are many available options online, some with speech bubble, some without.
For a very different kind of final product, you can also use online options and comic makers to create your work. Many of them are paying, but there are also some free options out there. Here are a few suggestions:
Although there is a paying option on this one, it’s still possible to get around it to create great looking little strips. It’s easy to use and very colourful. My grade 6 students loved it!
Here is a great application that allow you to use drawings and real life pictures from your files to create comics. More appropriate for older kids, Comic Life is very easy to use and looks super professional. My grade 9 class created a comic using real class pictures and the result was super cool!
I was actually introduced to Canva through my grade 6 students (who apparently know more about that stuff than I do!). We used Canvo to make a “Wanted” poster, but I still need to experiment with it a bit. Have a look, and let me know what you think!!