Captain Underpants, Dog Man, and Cat Kid were the inspiration for this week’s writing and social studies project. Dav Pilkey, the author of these popular comic books, had problems reading growing up and aspires to give a message of inspiration, creativity, practice, persistence, and fun & “laffs.” He says, “It’s very exciting to see that kids are finding their own ways to be connected with others by using their imaginations and their creativity; that was always one of my hopes, that kids would discover the joy of storytelling.” His books are written to be easy so all students can read them and laugh, and they have mistakes to show students that writing doesn’t have to be perfect, and in our case, his books inspired a project!
Monday began with a virtual global classroom event with Dav Pilkey. He showed students the process he goes through to make a new character and comic, so we gave it a try. Students began writing a list of objects they love and a list of activities they enjoy doing. From these lists, they selected one object as their character and one activity for their character to do in their comic. First graders ended up with hamsters skateboarding, chickens watching the iPad and cats surfing — as you can see, they love animals!
The next day was all about the main character. This week’s reading focus was on character traits, so students thought about the characteristics they wanted their main character to have. After drawing an example of their character exhibiting different emotions and writing the character’s traits, they sculpted their character out of clay. It was so cool seeing their vision come to life. Then, they made a Haiku Poem about their character. This poem has a particular number of syllables, so students used their phonemic awareness skills to clap out syllables and write the poem. Then, they participated in a museum walk to share and see the class collection of characters and their main traits.
After getting a good grasp on character traits and the main character for their comic, students were ready to begin the rough draft. However, students didn’t just write a comic about their character doing an activity, like surfing; they had to have a problem and solution. Because they have been working on rules and how to resolve conflicts with fairness and integrity in Social Studies, the problem had to be a conflict with a fair resolution. For example, if a student’s character was watching TV, their conflict could be that they couldn’t agree on a channel. Students then came up with resolutions: play rock-paper-scissors, watch something both parties can agree on, do something else, or come up with a TV watching schedule. This class already did a great job at conflict resolution and came up with great ideas I hadn’t even thought of!
After creating a four-paneled rough draft of the main character experiencing a conflict with a fair resolution, students began their final drafts. A few have finished, but many are still in this stage of the project. They are taking the time to make sure others can read their handwriting, that they include dialogue with speech bubbles, and that their final product is something they are proud of.
Comics, characters, and poems will be temporarily displayed in the lobby to show other classes the creativity and work put into this project and to show PNA peers how first graders resolve conflict with integrity. They will also go up in the hallway to continue to inspire themselves and others to have fun reading and writing, as Dav Pilkey does.