Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lego Movie Literacy

Lego’s are fun. The Lego Movie that was released this year added even more excitement to the classic building toy. Our idea was to create a Lego class that challenged kids to practice their literacy skills by writing a story – the classic hero’s journey.

The first step was character development. We asked the kids to draw their hero and describe the character’s personality by telling us if their character was good, or bad, or both, what their character liked to do as a job or a hobby, what the character wanted to achieve, what fears or obstacles could make it difficult for the character to achieve the big goal, and what traits, strengths, and skills can help the character achieve the goal?

Then we worked on the setting: We challenged the kids to “paint a picture of the setting… using words.” Where and when will the events of the story happen? 

  • Describe the place… Examples: the forest; the school; our town; or on another planet. 
  • Describe the location… Examples: beside the big oak tree; on the playground, near the zoo, or by the Purple Sea of Enselor. 
  • Describe the objects in the setting… Examples: mushrooms, the twirly slide, the koala bear enclosure, or the statue of the alien hero. 
  • Describe the time… Examples: morning, midnight, or dusk; in the present day, past, or future. 
  • Describe the weather… Examples: stormy, clear sky, muggy, hot.
We asked them to use descriptive and exciting words to describe each place. We challenged them to use great “kicked up” adjectives (hot/cold, bright/dark, dirty/clean, gloomy/cheerful, simple/elegant, colorful/faded, modern/old fashioned, luxurious/simple, threatening/tranquil).  But we also challenged them to “NOT make their adjectives DO ALL THE WORK” – instead of simply saying that the forest is gloomy – DESCRIBE what gloomy looks like, sounds like, and feels like. The dark forest was wet and a little bit cold, and the wind sounded like the trees were trembling and weeping.

Then we simply walked them through the process of telling the hero’s journey by having them come up with at least three problems or challenges that the hero would need to overcome and a creative, unexpected, or funny way of solving each problem.

Finally, we asked them to write a grand finale’. Tell the story of whether the Character wins or loses, reaches the goal or fails. Is there a moral to the story? If their character succeeds, this is a comedy; when the character fails, this is a tragedy. We challenged them not to just cut the story off, but to “wrap it up with a nice BOW.”

The kids thought about their stories as they build scenes and props with Legos, and worked on their stories at home. When they were happy with their stories, we snuck in a little technology education. We taught them to use stop-animation and green screen technology to create their own Lego Movies.

Here is a good example. As you watch, listen for character development, setting description, problems, solutions, and the grand finale’. Enjoy!

You can download the materials we gave the kids to help them at www.ashcraftafterschool.com/lovinlearnin.html
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