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Creating Japanese scrolls is one of my favorite ways to use art in the classroom and it works regardless of class size. In feudal Japan, when a message has to be taken from one Samurai lord to another, for example, it was done by an elaborate scroll bound with a ribbon and delivered by hand.
In terms of age adjustment, this activity works well from about the middle of the primary upwards. The older the students, the more intricate the drawings and language are.
What you need per student:
- a set of 6 sheets of glossy paper * (letter size or A4 depending on where the school is);
- little tape,
- a piece of red ribbon about 25 cm long. Buy a roll and cut it as needed.
- Pencil (student should already have)
- Eraser (student should already have)
- Pencil sharpener (should be one in the classroom)
- Crayons are optional. Colored markers are okay too, but keep it simple. You set the rules.
Students should first try to think of a topic. You, as their teacher, may want to put a list of story ideas on the board to give them a place to start. You may even choose to create and illustrate a story on the board to show them what they need to do. This must be done in advance. You can show how a story must flow smoothly from beginning to end. Many students get into it while others say they can't think of anything to write. This is where your ideas on the board will help.
On the board (or in the large computer screen of the class) you can have different columns
- Hero / hero, villain or good guy / bad guy, father, mother, friend, brother, sister
- Fight / war / save the planet / jungle, the desert, the city, the airport, the game
- Aircraft, ship, spaceship, submarine, bicycle, motorcycle, car, house, building, school
- Alien, Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Robber, Soccer, Hockey, Baseball, Cricket
- Dog, cat, monkey, lion, tiger, elephant, snake, spider, horse
- Flood, tornado, tsunami, blizzard, hailstorm, dust storm, sunshine
- Witch, elves, pixies, dwarves, giants, trolls, kites
- Christmas, Easter, holidays, holidays, weekend, visitors
Students can choose between what you have written on the board or something else out of their own imagination. This can be given as a homework assignment as long as you can be sure it will be their own work when it comes back. If they are in video games, a straight copy is not allowed. It must be their personal idea and written / graphic interpretations. This can also be a good time to introduce the idea of plagiarism.
Depending on the age of the students, maybe an approximate limit of 5-6 sentences per page / panel for the younger ones and a couple or two for older students. You do not need brochures here. It's just a fun exercise to teach students to think about developing a story, a beginning and an end, as well as simple hand drawings to give readers / viewers a visual interpretation of the story. This process helps all students in later grades.
The idea is that each student writes and illustrates their story about 6 panels, (like 6 pages from a children's story) and then tapes the panels together, rolls it up and ties it with the red ribbon. (You can change the colors as you like). They should put their name in the rolled-up story so that they can find theirs if everyone, for example, is put in a basket.
"Reveal" follows where each student is allowed to come to class and tell their story. I like to take students up front in small groups of up to 6 students depending on the size of your class (Dale Carnegie idea). This reduces the students' stress level and gives them support instead of leaving them alone in the future. The group takes turns reading their story and stays up until everyone in the group has read their story. Then they sit down and the next group comes up. Encourage (you can lead) the rest of the class to applaud. Applause is good before and after each story and every group as they go up to the front and again when they return to their seat. This is another stress reduction and at the same time shows the students that their effort is appreciated ... a good life lesson. However, see the level of applause; have respect for other classes around you.
There is something magical about loosening the tape and holding out the story and then reading it panel by panel. A good idea then is to set up the stories in the room so everyone can see - especially if you have an obvious Teachers Day coming! Be sure to take pictures of each student with their rolled rolls and then read their story to the class. These make excellent sending home pictures for the parents! It also shows the school principal / principal how creative you are!