Biography projects are a great way for children to learn about historical or remarkable people of any time. Such projects promote learning through hands-on creativity. There are many types of biography projects that are suitable and appropriate for children of all ages.
Biography projects are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The child's age, creativity and skill level should be considered when selecting a project.
Lifetime Photo Collage
Bring a historical figure back to life by creating a memoir of his lifetime. Children should collect pictures of the historical figure at several different points in his life. Children should try to find pictures that represent key moments or events in that person's life. The collage could also include photos of important places in the person's life, such as a birthplace or the location of a notable event. For an added touch, include photos of related monuments or buildings.
Instruct the children to organize the photos in chronological order. Once the photos are in order, the children are ready to create their collage. The photos should be glued or pasted to a poster board in a creative collage. For smaller-scale projects, have the children attach the photos to cardstock.
Children can learn about timelines and an influential person at the same time with this project. Start by having the children each build a list of notable moments in the person's life. The list should include dates and be organized in chronological order. When it is complete, have the children draw the basic line width-wise across a poster board. They should transfer the event list from their notes to the timeline. Younger children may need some help with spacing, but overall this project should be pretty simple for the children to do mostly on their own.
Once the timeline is complete, have the children decorate the project. Adding photos is a great way to give the lifetime line a more interesting and fun-to-read look. Children can add as many or as few photos as they would like. Children who enjoy art may prefer to draw their pictures or illustrations.
Talk Show Interview
This project is suitable for a group of two or more children. Each child should select a person to study individually. Once the students have taken the time to learn about the person they selected for the project, the real fun begins. Children will take turns being the talk show interviewer. They will pretend to host a talk show where the guest is a notable figure. Each child will have the opportunity to portray her selected subject.
The interviewer should have some time to prepare a list of questions to ask his guest. Tell the child who they will be interviewing, and give them a brief explanation of what role that person has played in history. They will use this information to decide what questions to ask.
When everyone is ready, have the interviewer announce her guest, just as she would on a television talk show. The interviewer should begin by asking questions from the list she has already created. Let the interview grow into a comfortable banter and allow the children to have fun with the project. Dressing up in costumes and the use of appropriate props should be encouraged.
Kids with a flair for drama will enjoy turning a biography project into a short performance. Have each child put together a brief skit that allows him to reenact the person's life. Put their problem-solving skills to the test by allowing them to figure out how to pull off a one-person skit. Be sure to limit the performance time. The children should be given an adequate amount of time to write and edit their scripts. Encourage the children to wear costumes for an authentic feel.
A puppet show is an incredibly fun way to tell a story. Visual effects and fun-loving puppet characters always make stories more interesting. This may be the best solution to an otherwise boring project.
Start by giving the children time to work on their stories. Encourage them to make their stories fun and lighthearted. Once their stories are ready, children should make their puppets. The more involved children are in a project, the more they will learn from it.
Keep the kids on track by issuing a time limit for the performance.
Children can turn a biography into a book that almost any of their peers would enjoy reading. Comic books, or graphic novels as they are often called, are fun to read because of the bright and colorful illustrations. To create a comic book, fold a few pages of plain white paper in half, width-wise. Staple the pages together at the fold to hold the pages in place. Bright colors and action-packed pages will make the story more interesting all around.
Turn a biography project into a treasure hunt. This project is suitable for groups of three or more children. Each child should find a specified number of items related to the subject. Have one child hide her items throughout the room. Once all of the items are hidden, that child should tell the story of her assigned subject. Throughout the story, the child will leave clues to the whereabouts of the hidden treasures. After the story, have the other children try to find the items. The child who finds the most treasure is the winner. The children should take turns so everyone has a chance to hide some treasure.
Did You Know?
This simple biography project requires the child to find ten specific facts about a person of historical significance. The information should be presented on a poster board or sturdy construction paper. Each line will begin with, "Did you know...," and should tell an interesting fact. Have the children decorate their projects appropriately.
For an interesting twist, have the children offer ten facts without revealing the person's name. The child's peers should try to guess who the subject is based on these ten facts alone.
Fun and Interesting
Biographies can often be bland and boring for children. Biography projects can change that, making child's play out of history. What's more, a biography project can encourage critical thinking and reasoning skills. With a little creativity, learning a biography can be a lot of fun. It is just a matter of finding interesting ways to present the facts.