Do your students have a hard time remembering characters and symbolism within specific stories? There is one way to keep your students’ creative side going and help them remember important details while studying for quizzes. The way to do so is to draw and cut out characters. But you first need to have your students answer some basic questions about the characters:
Before you begin the activity, ask your students these questions:
- What is the character’s name?
- What is the character’s title?
- Does this character have a symbolic object?
- Does this character have a symbolic color?
- Does this character have relations with any other characters? If so, list them.
- What is the fate of this character?
- How did the character get their fate?
Students will do this individually so they can see how much they know about the characters. If you’d like to add in more collaboration, give students 5 minutes to answer the questions individually and then have them partner up. With their new partners, provide students with an additional five minutes to discuss the characters and continue answering the questions. If you’d like, you can then have each partner group team up with another partner group to form a group of four students. Later, as a class, you will discuss each character and write down details on the whiteboard.
After students finish answering the questions, it is then time to have students quickly illustrate the characters. It might be easier to print out outlines of people and hand them out to students to add more details themselves by only drawing the characters’ outfits and coloring them in, etc.
After collecting information, your students will draw and color, but have them write the characters’ names and title on the front, while the back is for character information. For example, if a student is beginning to draw Ponyboy from The Outsiders, the student will write Ponyboy’s name above his head. To add in even more information, the student could write “Greaser” underneath Ponyboy’s name.
It will be critical for high school students to use these character outlines because students are reading more mature stories with complex symbolic elements. For instance, if students focus on Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, they will have her name on the front with no title, since her title is her last name. Your students will write the colors symbolic to the rival families, meaning the Capulets wore blue shades while the Montagues wore red colors. Even though Romeo and Juliet wore muted tones, it will be easier to put blue or red underneath their names.
With these cut-outs of the characters, your students will be able to study better because of the added visual element! A way for them to use their drawings is by doing a memory game where students will either place the characters on their front or back and guess names or the character’s information. It will also be an excellent cheat sheet for final exams, of course, allowing students to have time in class to organize these characters in the stories they belong to by putting a ring through them or in envelopes.
Other Resources for Characterization:
Sticky Note Literary Analysis Unit
Digital Characterization Activities