Biography projects are a great way for children to learn about historical or remarkable people of any time period. Such classroom activities promote learning through hands-on creativity. There are many types of biography project ideas that are suitable and appropriate for children of all ages.
Biography Project Ideas
Biography projects are not one-size-fits-all. 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 collage of his or her lifetime. Children should collect pictures of key moments at different points in a historical figures 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. This project is simple enough for children ages 5-12. To create this project:
- Instruct the children to organize the photos in chronological order.
- Grab a piece of poster board.
- Glue or paste the photos to a poster board in a creative collage.
- For smaller-scale projects, have the children attach the photos to card stock.
Children can learn about timelines and an influential person through a lifetime line. Given the intensive research of this project, it is recommended for children 8-13. Here's how to create the lifetime line.
- 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.
- Have the children draw the basic line across the width of a poster board.
- 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.)
- Decorate the timeline. 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 or even draw pictures.
Talk Show Interview
This project is suitable for a group of two or more children. It is also best for middle and high school children from ages 11-18. View the instructions below:
- Pair students.
- Each child in the pair should select a person to study individually.
- The pairs will each give a brief overview of their figure to their partner.
- Each child should then come up with a list of questions to ask about their partner's notable figure.
- The children will take turns being the talk show interviewer and interviewee.
- When everyone is ready, pick a pair to start.
- Have the interviewer announce their guest, just as they would on a television talk show.
- The interviewer should begin by asking questions from the list they have 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 skit. These performances are great for all ages from 5-18. To start:
- Have each child put their problem-solving skills to the test by allowing them to figure out how to pull off a one-person skit.
- The children should be given an adequate amount of time to write, edit and perform their skits.
- Limit the performance time based on the age of the students. Younger children should have a shorter skit while older ones should be able to come up with a more in-depth performance.
- 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 for kids from 5-13. This may be the best solution to an otherwise boring project.
- Start by having students select a figure.
- Create a fact-based story based on the figure.
- Give the children time to work on their stories.
- Encourage them to make their stories fun and lighthearted.
- Provide art supplies like paper bags or socks to 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. This is a great project for kids ages 5-12.
- 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 from ages 5-10.
- Find several items related to a historical figure.
- Hide the different items around a room.
- Create riddles for the students based on the items and where they are hidden. For example, George Washington can be seen in a famous image floating across a lake. There is a one-dollar bill near the sink.
- Allow the children to start reading one riddle.
- Once they find that item they can move on to the next riddle.
Did You Know?
Great for kids from 7-11, this simple biography project requires the child to find ten specific facts about a person of historical significance. You'll need poster board and art supplies.
- 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.