When I saw this year’s Children’s Book Week theme of Australia! Story Country it got me thinking about the importance of each child’s individual story and how much their own story influences their life and learning. One activity that was very popular with my students when I was teaching, was creating silhouettes for each child as part of a class art project. We would generally do this at the beginning of the school year and the children (and their parents) would have fun trying to identify each of their peers via the unnamed silhouettes displayed in our classroom. The activity I am sharing today takes this project one step further by including drawing and writing elements to encourage each child to share a little of their own story.
While we used simple line drawings and short sentences, there are many ways that this activity activity can be easily adapted. For example;
- Cut a piece of lined paper to fit within the silhouette to encourage more detailed writing, when the activity forms part of a writing lesson.
- Draw directly onto the black paper with a silver or white marker pen.
- Draw thought bubbles that sit above the silhouette instead of within it.
- Encourage children to think about what details to add to their story by having them draft their responses to a range of thought starters, such as – My family includes, My favourite foods are, My favourite colour is, My favourite subject is, etc.
- For a true Book Week twist, have the child share their favourite stories or book titles instead of a range of personal details.
To make your silhouette, set a chair in front of a bright lamp in a darkened area of the room. Have the child sit on the chair and blutack a piece of large, black paper or cardstock (we used A3 size) to the wall where their shadow falls. It might take a little adjusting of the placement of the lamp to get the shadow fitting snuggly onto the paper.
Trace around the child’s shadow with a chalk marker.
Cut out the silhouette and glue it onto a white (or coloured) piece of cardstock.
Then it is time to add personal details to your silhouette. I cut out some circles of paper for Immy to write and draw in, thinking they were a little like thought bubbles or a set of cogs and wheels within the brain that make a person who they are and how they think. Immy wrote and drew her responses with a fineline black marker pen. You can use this idea or one of the alternatives included above.
Once the child has completed their personal details, glue them onto the silhouette and display.
You can also add a title, such as “My Story by ___” or “All About ___.” Or, as I did, display a completed silhouette for each child in the class without names and see if the other students (and parents), can identify each person in the group.