By Bill Zimmerman
If you’re looking for an exciting new literacy activity this year why not start a daily 20-minute comic strip segment during which your students create a comic diary about something they learned, read, or experienced that day? Creating such daily comix diaries provides a way for youngsters to digest and integrate key material they are taught as well as to reflect on their lives and experiences. What better way to improve writing, reading and storytelling skills!
To help educators, MakeBeliefsComix.com, the free online comic strip generator, has launched a Daily Comix Diary page. Students can use the online comic strip generator or draw their own comics with pencil or crayons (stick figures are great), or use pictures cut from magazines. By making their own comic strips, students will realize they can create stories and make art. They will learn that they, too, are capable of generating their own learning materials, their own memoirs, and validate their own take on the world –– everyone sees things differently.
WHAT TO DRAW AND WRITE ABOUT?
- For starters, why not have students create autobiographical comic strips detailing themselves and their families or summarizing the most important things about their lives? Let each student select a cartoon character as a surrogate to represent him or her. They might also summarize what their individual interests are or some key moments in their lives.
- Maybe students create a comic strip with a new ending for a book that they’ve read, or an extension of the story, or a deeper exploration of a character in the book.
- Maybe their comic is about a concept they learned in science or in social studies.
- Maybe their comic captures an interesting conversation they overheard.
- Maybe their comic is about something sad or bad that happened to them, such as someone bullying them. Or about something special, such as a birthday wish.
- Maybe their comic is about something fun or wonderful that they or a friend experienced – perhaps an adventure they had. Or, about a great or important memory they will never forget.
- Maybe their daily comic contains a joke they heard or something funny a parent said to them recently.
- Maybe they’re exploring a problem at home that’s bothering them, such as a sibling who’s driving them crazy.
- Maybe theirs is a comic strip utilizing new vocabulary learned that day.
- Maybe their comic strip is a fantasy story that came to their imagination.
- Or, how about creating a political comic strip commenting on some new development in government or a news event?
Now, imagine the student’s comic-filled sketch book or folder containing daily diary entries created over the course of a year that will trace each child’s thoughts and learning reflecting what was important to her or him. They’ll have composed a comic book diary they will treasure for the rest of their lives.
Most important, the 20-minute-a-day Daily Comix Diary Challenge offers students the chance to become creators as they find their voice, rather than just passive learners. What better gift can you give them?