Making cartoons and comic strips can be a fun way for students to express their understanding of events and concepts. Creating a comic strip is a welcome change for a student who is scared (or angry) of the idea of writing another article or making another PowerPoint presentation. Here are five ideas for using humor in social studies lessons.
1. Create short biographies of historical figures Let students choose an important moment in a person’s life. Then ask your students to explain the moment. For example, students studying John F. Kennedy can use McFarlane comics to illustrate the conversation between JFK and Bobby Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you want students to explain conversations in languages other than English, MacBooks Comics is a great choice because it supports six languages in addition to English.
2. Specify the timeline of an event or series of events. Instead of just writing summaries of key events, force students to create reflections of events. Tony Tool is a great tool for creating single frame comics that your students can save and then add to the timeline.
3. How could history be different if we had communication technology available 200, 300 or 500 years ago today? Ask your students to think about this question and then explain the results. Students can use some of the wire frames available in Kenoa or the SMS generator from ClassToll.net to mimic text messages and email exchanges between historical characters such as George Washington and Ben Franklin.
4. Outline and description of branches of government. Creating this storyboard is a great way for students to show what they know about all the powers and responsibilities of each branch of government. You can do this in Google Slides for students by following this model.
5. Make political cartoons. This is a clear use of cartoons in social studies classes. Cartoons for the Classroom offers excellent, free lesson plans for using political cartoons. Single frame comic creation tools like Tony Tool are enough to make a political cartoon.