Tag Archives: characteristics

Learning about characteristics through games

MB Games / Hasbro  watch this space… I seem to have two little game entrepreneurs on my hands!  Last week we started to look closely at the characters in Star Wars and Thomas The Tank Engine (TTTE) in order to widen vocabulary and think about characteristics alongside features.  It has proven to be a really worthwhile activity, and much more fun than simply writing about characters on a book review sheet.  Although, if you do decide to give this activity a go, be warned – it is long!

The boys have decided to make my life slightly trickier by insisting on these two topics, and so the Guess Who activity has been a brilliant way to merge the two, creating the same outcome, yet working t totally different levels.  I’m not a huge TTTE fan and was rather surprised to find a whole website dedicated to outlining each character. Apparently Thomas has a lot more friends than just Percy, Gordon and Edward.  You never do stop learning do you??!

We don’t do an awful lot of story writing and planning, so for this term I decided to make it a focus.  Our learning sequence is to first look at the characters, drawing them and recording characteristics.  I have scribed for L and C has made notes alongside his game making.  Next we will look at settings, describing the opening for the story which will then be made as a backdrop to a short stop animation film.  I am hoping that the animation will then lead into a short written story for C as he would like to enter the BBC’s 500 words competition.  Story writing is so much easier when there has been a practical hands on or play based experience to refer to.  In the same way, drawing pictures before writing provides the opportunity to rehearse ideas, get the sequence organised, before attempting to write the story in words.   This is interesting, as so often I have seen children told that they can draw only when they have finished the writing, despite an increasing understanding that if you can’t say it, you can’t write it.   The play and the drawing all help with this in a HE learning environment.

So this is how our game has developed.  Hopefully I have managed to give you an idea of all the learning that has come from such a simple activity.

First we planned how many characters to make and the boys removed that number of cards from the original game, making sure that they removed the same people.

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C went on to measure the card as accurately as he could, applying his recent learning of decimals, while L measured by placing cards along a sheet of card to see how many we could cut from one large sheet:  Lots practical application of maths to start.  I must have been too involved at this stage as I didn’t take any photos!

The boys then set about drawing their chosen characters.  This of course involved a LOT of attention to detail from C, who spent hours on this!  He did also make notes for each one as he went along, discussing what he already knew about the characters and finding powerful descriptive words.

L and I also made notes as you can see below…

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I think the longer C took, the more characters L was finding.  I had to ask him to stop in the end!

Some good problem solving next as C realised that in order to play it properly we actually needed 3 copies of each picture, so up to the photocopier we went…

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Where the little one had a little lesson in technology.  Children are so fascinated by photocopiers!

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Finally, all the new cards were inserted and we are ready to play!

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We are pleased to say it works!  You have probably realised by now that it actually doesn’t matter who you take out as it is best to play only with the new cards.  Otherwise it’s totally obvious when you’ve picked an original and your partner would win instantly!  The note taking came into play here as well, as the boys needed to ask searching questions about personality traits.

I’ve planned this in the past for Roald Dahl characters, and think it would work well for any set of books with strong characters.  I’d love to hear from anyone who’s given it a try!