Taking character development out of the human sphere can make it much easier for pupils to identify the processes of creating sympathetic characterisation.
You can find general nature and animal clips at the BBC nature wildlife page.
View the BBC Little Heroes series, in particular the grasshopper mouse clips. Ask your pupils to write their own profiles for animals that feature in other clips in the Little Heroes series.
Watch another BBC Clip Reptile Race that depicts a lizard chase. Ask your pupils to identify the anthropomorphism used to create a sense of familiarity for the audience and to capture and maintain their interest.
Also, see the clips in the slow writing section to discuss how the writer can create tension and excitement through careful characterisation.
- How does a writer create sympathy for the protagonist? and
- What can we learn from filmmakers for our own writing?
Encourage your pupils to create their own bank of adjectives to describe character. You may wish to use the pupil resource My adjectives bank and also the Descriptive Words Randomiser (below) to help pupils select descriptive words. Encourage your pupils to choose words that they have not heard before and look them up in a dictionary. Ask your pupils to colour code the adjectives based on mood.
Ask pupils to create a character word wheel using their bank of adjectives. You may wish to use the Character wheel resource. We have provided these as interactive presentation and a printable resource.
Encourage your pupils to match the characteristics to images of people they find in newspapers or online. Here are some useful sources:
You can edit this activity to use any source image you want. Why not use images for characters in literature you are using with your pupils?
Use technology to engage your pupils and encourage them to think about what interests, hobbies and habits make a character.
Using the Who owns this phone? resource encourage pupils to use their inference and deduction skills to gather information about the phone owner, including gender, age, hobbies, martial status and job.
Next, ask your pupils to create their own home screen for their character using the My Character’s Mobile Phone resource below. Remind pupils they must justify their decisions with explanations.
Once they have made their character’s home screen pupils should share this with a partner and write inferences about their partner’s character.
Next, in pairs, pupils should discuss the two home screens. How similar are they? What different inferences did they make?
Ask your pupils to use the Think sheet resource to record their thoughts about a character they have met in a novel or a film.
Your face or mine?
Your face or mine?
Ask your pupils’ to gather everything they have decided about their character and apply it to their character’s physical appearances. Using the Your face or mine? resource, give pupils the chance to draw the face of their character. This can then be followed up with what clothes they wear, accessories they carry or any other features they may like to include. Consider showing your pupils examples of Quentin Blake’s work and try to emulate his style for their character drawing.