On April 28, 1995, employees at Marvel created National Superhero Day to celebrate everyone’s favorite superhero. This now-annual holiday honors both the real and fictional people that inspire us in our daily lives.
In this fun group project, students design their own superheroes and then work together to create a comic book story based on their characters.
This is a highly adaptable activity that can be used to teach or review many different language topics, including conditionals, describing people, parts of the body, exclamations, and onomatopeia.
Begin the project with some background information about comic books and superheroes in pop culture. Our Famous People lesson on Marvel comic creator, Stan Lee, is a great place to start!
Once students are comfortable with the topic and new vocabulary, divide them into groups of four or five. Ask each group member to design their own superhero. Students can draw their character, use magazine or photo cutouts, design it on the computer, or create a model or puppet.
Ask students to write a description of their character. Depending on their level, this can include names, superpowers, personality traits, or the character’s background story.
Here are two examples from our talented illustrators at ESL Library:
"This is Dino-Boy. His 'suit' is made of super unbreakable material and he can roll around like Taz from the Looney Tunes. He's got high energy and can bite things with his dinosaur teeth. Lol."
"My father worked in Japan for years when my brother and I were young, so we basically grew up without him. In Brazil, my mom had to take care of everything herself—the house, the finances, and us. Years later, when our family reunited, my mom read for her degree in Gastronomy at 62 years old, along with my brother. While in college, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but even the chemo didn’t stop her from going to class every night. It’s been almost five years now of medical follow-up. Here’s hoping that soon she will be officially cancer-free. She may not have superpowers, but my mom is determined and a true fighter. My mom is my superhero."
Next, students take turns introducing and describing their superheroes to the other members of the group and brainstorm story ideas that would include each character.
Once each group has drafted their story, show them how to write it in the style of a comic book. Teachers can photocopy pages from an old comic book and white-out the text, or search for free templates online.
When each group has completed their story, have them present (or act out!) their comic books to the rest of the class. Teachers can display each group's comics around the classroom, or photocopy and distribute a copy for each member of the class.
Depending on class size, student level, time, and resources, this project could be completed over the course of several classes or an entire academic term. We hope your students will have fun either way—try it out and let us know what you think!