Putting the 'kapow!' in literacy
They were meant to be a one-off for pupils in the Dumfries and Galloway area, but creative writing tutor Kate Tough found the response to her comic book superheroes sessions so positive, she is now offering them to primary schools throughout the west of Scotland.
Stranraer Museum had asked her to develop a workshop to complement an exhibition on comic book superheroes, with the idea that children would create their own superheroes, using comic book characters as a stimulus.
The sessions with P6-7 pupils from Belmont Primary in Stranraer began with an exploration of what superheroes are.
"Although most children's experience these days doesn't come from comic books, we all agreed that superhero characters have certain things in common," she says: "an alter ego - usually someone who is quite mild mannered and unassuming; and a super power - that is used for good."
The pupils then drew around each other, lying on the floor on long rolls of paper. This not only put some physical activity into the mix, but helped them visualise how a superhero could emerge. It is a workshop that can help to give vulnerable children who feel powerless some control over their lives, Ms Tough believes.
When it came to creating their own superheroes, she provided printed templates for a biography, with a list of questions covering basic information such as the superhero's name, superpower and list of enemies. "Giving them a template was much less intimidating than a blank sheet of paper," she says. "They came up with great ideas - including a cow with superpowers!"
In the final part of the 90-minute sessions, pupils created a visual story for their superhero, using a template of comic book-style blank squares.
Belmont teacher Arlene McKie says: "Our pupils enjoyed the sessions. They were structured in such a way that all abilities were able to take part and produce work they were proud of."
Further details from: www.katetough.com.