Characters are a crucial element in stories. It’s one of the basics your students need to learn early on in their writing journey. Whether it’s a mama sloth or a girl superhero they chose for their character, they need to know how to introduce and develop these personas in their narratives.
Here’s how to teach characterization in your class:
1. Read short stories
Choose stories that focus on the characters, and then ask the children to pick their favorites at the end of the session. Then, let them write their impressions on the character’s outward appearances and inner traits, as narrated in the story.
You can go as far as probing the children to judge the actions and decisions of the characters, based on moral standards they know. When they’re able to get the pattern of having solid characters, let them publish their story.
There are publishing kits that enable you to write your own storybook online for free. Studentreasures Publishing believes these are worth recommending to students.
2. Let them describe the characters
One way to do this is to make pupils visualize their chosen character’s outward appearances. If it’s a certain person, ask them what the character’s hair or eyes look like.
If it’s an animal, let them put in detail how the skin of the character feels, how long their legs are, or how tiny their bodies are, for instance. Another way of describing is to focus on the inner traits of the character, namely, their attitudes, personalities, words and actions.
Ask a student if their character is kind and gentle or rude and snobbish. Encourage them to write how the persona speaks or behaves.
3. Have a ‘guest’ in the room
Perhaps, every now and then, you can get a colleague to dress up and show up in one of your classes as a writing prompt for your students.
For instance, a ‘detective’ could go to your room, and then let your students fill in the blanks: “This is Detective ______, who looks like ______. He works at ______ because he wants to ______.” Then, encourage the children to write 4–5 more sentences to complete the story.
Teach your students the power of characterization. Let them imagine and explore different personas in different worlds.