BAM! POW! Comic Strip Writing
“Bam!” “Pow!” Comic book writing is a great way to engage young learners in the writing and story-telling process. In this first grade reading and writing lesson plan, budding writers will be introduced to the genre writing category of comic books, as well as related terms such as “dialogue” and “speech bubbles.” After reviewing sample comic strips, children will have a chance to brainstorm and create their own comic strips (or even comic books for those feeling more ambitious), complete with their own imagined storyline, characters, dialogue, and illustrations.
Students will be able to reflect on the elements of comic strip writing and create their own story using a comic strip format.
- Gather students on the rug and show them your collection of comic books and/or graphic novels. Introduce the genre and ask students what are the important features of a comic book. What do they look like? How are they different from other picture books? During the discussion, find the right moment to introduce the words "dialogue" and "speech bubbles."
- Tell students that today they will be comic strip writers and explain that comic books are made up of comic strips. They will just be writing a short scene where at least two characters are talking to each other.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(15 minutes)
- Share your pre-made comic strips with your students.
- Model brainstorming a new scene, either realistic or fictional and sketching out the sequence of events. As students offer ideas through multiple exchanges, model building on those ideas and linking them to other students' ideas. For example, "I like how you mentioned ____. ____ also had a similiar idea. How about combining those ideas to create a story about ____."
- Elicit student input for going back and filling in the dialogue. Continue to build on students' comments and adjust them as necessary (e.g., "I like your idea about ____. I think we should add ____.")
- Tell students that now that the events and dialogue are completed, you can go back and add more detail and color to your drawings.
Guided Practice(10 minutes)
- Have students help each other brainstorm by partnering them up and giving them the opportunity to talk through multiple exchanges of ideas and insight.
- After each partner has had a chance to talk, pass out the blank worksheets but not the pencils! Have them touch each box and explain to their partner what they will write/draw.
- Ask students to respond to their partners' comments during the conversation. For example, "I like your idea about ____. How about adding ____?"
Independent working time(20 minutes)
- Get to work, comic strip writers! Have students make their stories come alive by drawing and writing the stories they’ve planned.
- More fluent writers who are ready for a challenge might enjoy making a real comic book and linking several scenes into a story that makes sense, then stapling them together to make a book.
- Reluctant writers may benefit from reducing number of boxes in the scene. They also may find it manageable to draw a scene form their own life rather than inventing one.
- As students share their ideas with partners, circulate taking notes on who might need more support. Evaluate each students' ability to build on each other's comments during their brainstorming and conversations.
- Use completed first draft comic strips to measure writing skills.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Have students share their comic strips in small groups.
- Gather students on rug and choose a volunteer to share their stories.