We read a delightful story titled Space Pup, about a super hero dog who rescues a bus that is stuck in the mud. I thought it would be fun to challenge students to extend the story by creating their own Space Pup adventure. I thought I could introduce my students to story elements by having them create a comic strip.
I had the comic creators by ToonDoo.com and ReadWriteThink.org in the past. (I created a PowerPoint about strategies to deal with bullying that I modeled through comics I created on ToonDoo. This presentation is available in my TPT store). I looked at both of them and decided to use ToonDoo because they had great outerspace themed backgrounds and props. While poking around on ReadWriteThink.org, however, I did find a great story mapping tool, that I decided to use for the pre-writing experience.
Brainstorming and Democracy
After reading the story Space Pup, I explained to my students that we were going to create our own Space Pup adventure in comic strip format. I explained that first we needed to plan out and think of our story. I had students suggest story ideas, and I wrote them on the board. Then I had students vote on the idea they liked the best. Some of their ideas were about Bank robberies, fires, and cars stuck in the snow. The winning idea? Space Pup rescues a rocket when it runs out of fuel!
Story Mapping with another Sprinkling of Democracy!
The next day I had students map out the story using the ReadWriteThink.org story mapping tools. We discussed setting, characters, and the conflict. Then we had to figure out what the resolution to the conflict would be. The students had so many ideas about how Space Pup for rescue the rocket out of fuel. When I first asked them how Space Pup would rescue the rocket, I got a lot of blank stares. After a little wait time, one student piped up, which got the ball rolling. Space pup could fly from earth carrying a big container of fuel. Space Pup could pull or push a cosmic gas station to the rocket. Space Pup could push or pull the rocket to the cosmic gas station. Their ideas were endless! We had to vote again, and they winning idea was that Space Pup would show up in his own space ship, and tow the rocket back to planet earth. Who needs AAA when you have Space Pup?
The Final Product
Using our Epson Brightlink Interactive Projector, students were able to work together to create the comic strip. We started with the background first, and then we added the props. Next, we added the characters, and the speech bubbles. To make sure each child had the opportunity to add to the comic, I used my Popsicle Stick Cup. One thing that I didn’t like about ToonDoo was that I had scroll up and down to see the tool bar. I would prefer if they put it on the side of the screen instead of the bottom. I also had some issues saving the comic, so be careful of this glitch! I was able to embed the final product into our Kidblog and Edmodo page. Student enjoyed this project, and I would highly recommend using comics to introduce story elements with your students!
How to do you introduce your students to story elements? Have you ever tried using comic creators with your students?