Tag Archives: co-op classes

Creating Story Characters

This year at our co-op, I’m teaching a creative writing course using WriteShop as our curriculum. Ten students in grades 6th – 9th are taking the class, and even though there is a difference in ages and abilities, for the most part, the classes run quite smoothly. The way the lessons are designed, we sometimes end up with extra class time for supplemental writing activities. One of our favorites so far has been “Creating Story Characters.”

What you’ll need:

  • Two large garbage bags
  • Various hats (i.e. chef’s hat, football helmet, pirate’s hat, etc.)
  • Other props (we used a Dr. Seuss book, a cape, a Hannah Montana wig, a pink feathery shawl, a fake beard)
  • 3 x 5 cards
  • envelope
  • pen
  • paper for each student
  • pencil for each student

To prepare, place all of the hats in one of the large garbage bags and all of the props in another.

On each 3 x 5 card, write an emotion. You might include happy, depressed, angry, excited, thrilled, lonely, etc. Place these cards in the envelope.

To play:

Ask for a volunteer to come to the front of the class. Have him choose one item from the “hat” bag and one item from the “prop” bag  by simply reaching in the bags without looking. Whatever props he pulls out, he must put on. Then, have him draw an emotion card from the envelope. He must then act out that emotion.

The other students are to quickly create a character based on what they see. They can include as much detail as they want about the character, such as the character’s name, where he’s from, what his hobbies are, why he’s feeling a certain way, etc.

Students have one minute to write about this character. When time is up, go around the room and have the students share their ideas.

I found that as the game progressed so did the creativity the students displayed! They came up with some great ideas for the wacky characters they saw — ideas I never would have thought of. And I have to admit: we had a lot of fun in the process!

Photo by cohdra

Why Take an Art Class?

This past week, we started back with our co-op classes. Instead of teaching the younger elementary students, though, I’m teaching classes to middle school and high school students, and one of those classes is Sr. High Art. As I introduced the course, I asked the students why learning how to create art is important.

At first no one answered my question — I wasn’t sure if they were just shy, or if they just didn’t know. Finally, someone said, “Because it’s fun.” And that’s a great reason. For many people, creating art — whether they are working on a two- dimensional piece such as drawing or painting, or whether they’re making a three-dimensional carving or sculpture — is very enjoyable. It can be a way to escape the stresses of the day and concentrate on something else for a while.

And there are other reasons. Art encourages children to use their imaginations — to do more than sit and watch a television show or video game. Also, the arts often help children develop a their self-confidence and self-esteem, as students can look with a sense of pride at something they created themselves.

Since our co-op is a Christian co-op, I shared with my students yet another reason for taking the class: sometimes the arts can reach people with the message of the Gospel when logic and reasoning cannot. Half of the people in the world out there are  logical thinkers, who want to hear something that’s black-and-white, cut-and-dried. The other half, however, — those creative-type thinkers, may identify more with the images and emotions conveyed through the arts. I can remember so many times I have been moved by a painting, a song, or a melody.

God, as the Creator, is the greatest artist of all — and he’s created us with an appreciation for beauty along with the desire to create beautiful things. And we can do that for His glory — what better reason could there be for taking an art class?

Photo by mindexpansion