What’s In The Class? (Course Outline)

This curriculum is meant to be an example of a typical 3-week, 3-day/week course, and a class time of apx 2 hours with breaks.
It is designed to be very flexible so as to accommodate the available teaching hours of every organization (from 1 week up to 1 month, 1 day/wk up to 5 days/wk).

The wording used in the syllabus is only meant to convey a clear understanding of the concepts being taught. The actual language and teaching style is dependent on the age and English ability of the class.


Goals: finding your passion, overcoming fear, problem solving, working in teams

Day 1


  • What is creativity?
  • Everyone is creative.
  • Practice, don’t study. It’s a sport, not a test.
  • Is creativity only for artists?
    • What else could creativity be good for?
  • Exercise: Rube Goldberg Machine
    • Think of a simple task you want to make automatic
    • draw out plans for a machine that makes it as complicated as possible
      • don’t use the same method more than once
      • how many steps did it take?
      • What’s the craziest part?
    • Now draw another plan to do it in 1 or 2 steps
      • There are so many useless steps you’ve already cleared out of your head, isn’t there?

Finding what you’re passionate about

  • Vocalize your thoughts on dislikes/likes
    • say out loud how you feel about something
    • you’ll start to notice what you often lean towards
    • who knew you liked that so much?
  • There’s no wrong way to play
    • What do you like to play with most?
    • Playing is exploring
      • Exploring is our way of asking questions.
      • If the teacher/mom/dad say don’t, they helped us get the answer.
      • What can we learn when we play?
      • At the end of every day, ask yourself: “What was the best thing that happened today?”
  • Exercise: Morning Pages
    • Get a notebook/drawing pad.
      • Decorate it, make it special to you.
    • write (or draw) the very first thing that comes to your mind
    • do at least 2 pages
    • don’t think about it, just let it be the first thing that your hand does
    • what ideas and feelings do you find coming up often?
      • Maybe you really like these things and want to get better at it.
    • Every morning, write/draw at least 2 pages
    • This is yours, not your parents’, not your friends’, not your teachers’

Day 2

  • Opening Exercise: Drawing with holes
    • Everyone gets paper with a random hole cut in it.
    • Draw a picture using the hole
      • Nothing is incorrect, use it any way you like
      • Did you make the hole become an object?
      • Is it a void in the picture?

Finding Your Creative Space

  • where is somewhere you can call your own?
  • If you can, decorate it. Make it your creative haven.
  • keep a token to focus your creativity
    • something personal to you
    • look to it for inspiration
    • imagine inside lives a little animal that feeds you your creativity
  • Make a ritual
    • simple, but meaningful
    • ask your token for help
  • Exercise: Creative Cave
    • draw your perfect personal creative space
    • how does it fuel creativity?
    • what parts can you make for your actual creative space?

Overcoming Fear

  • Being afraid is ok
    • new things are scary
    • finding friends who support you
    • draw what your afraid of in your morning pages
  • What’s the most scary thing you’ve ever done?
  • Writing down your fear on a piece of paper,
    • fold it up/seal it and put it in your alter
    • Let it be a reminder that you won’t let it control you
    • it’s ok that it’s still there, but it doesn’t control you
  • Exercise: Horrifying Monster of Scary Evil Scaryness
    • the class draws a big monster together
    • each kid gets to tell one feature they think is the most scary thing possible (eyes, teeth, laws, etc.)
    • everyone gets to decide after if it’s really scary, or just silly

Day 3

  • Opening Exercise: Song of Straight-up Sillyness
  • groups of 3-5
  • Everyone writes a word down
  • On person sings a simple verse about their subject
  • the next person sings the next verse, adding their word into the story

Working in Teams

  • Brainstorming
    • write everything out, seeing it makes it easier to connect
      • Make a “cloud” with the problem in the middle
      • branching out solutions and other posed problems
    • Use questions instead of statements
      • “How do we get around this problem”
      • “What if…”
      • “Would this work…”
      • “But then how do we solve this…”
    • Don’t be afraid to make crazy ideas
      • Brainstorming is for thinking up every idea
      • Afterwards you can narrow down
      • Often the most impossible turn out to be the best
    • Exercise: It Ain’t Broke, So Let’s Fix It
      • find an everyday object, decide on a basic problem that could be improved
      • in a group, discuss how to make it better
        • What problems come up with each solution?
      • Write out as big of a cloud as you can
      • After, pick out what are plausible and scratch out the others
      • Write out what could be done
      • Did you make it more awesome?
  • Respecting co-workers, respecting yourself
    • If you respect and like yourself, you are more available to be creative
    • How can you respect yourself if you don’t respect others?
      • The more you listen and understand what someone else thinks, the more you understand bout what you think
    • What are some things we say that can cause someone to be afraid to participate?
    • What are some supportive words?
  • Exercise: Ouch That Hurts
    • Groups of 5-10
    • a bunch of water balloons are put on a cloth supported above the group by clothes pins
    • One person says a random word
    • Everyone else takes turns saying hurtful things about his/her idea
    • Each time a hurtful thing is said, remove a pin
    • Eventually, the whole group gets wet.
    • Do it again, but this time say helpful things
    • Each time you say something helpful, add a pin
    • After all the pins are used, the balloons are yours to throw at the teacher


Goal: story telling, exercises, portraying your meaning

Day 1

  • Opening Exercise: In The Way
    • Put a random object on your paper
    • Draw a scene, but do not move the object
      • Draw around it
    • Afterwards, remove the object
      • What does it look like they are doing in your scene?
    • Draw the rest of the scene with what you think looks good.

Story telling basics

  • Plot
    • 3-act structure
      • 1st act – Who, what, where (setting)
        • Who are our characters?
        • What kind of life do they have?
        • Where are they?
      • 2nd act – “but then!”
        • A problem occurs
        • What does this do to the characters?
        • What can they do to fix it?
        • “and so..”
        • Does it work? (repeat as necessary..)
        • Climax
      • 3rd act – “Finally..”
        • happens fast
        • Do they live happy?
        • Twist endings are often the best endings..
      • This is the basic structure, but not the only structure.
        • If you break it, have a reason
    • Exercise: Comic book
      • Draw out comic book panes
      • Separate clear sections of Act 1, 2, 3 (labeled)
      • Everyone gets a turn telling what happens on each pane
      • Use the 3-act rules

Day 2

  • Opening Exercise: Solid, Abstract
    • As a class, list words that are real, that you can see and touch
      • pick an object and draw it
    • As a class, list words that aren’t possible to touch
      • feelings, ideas, adjectives
      • pick a word and draw it
        • What can you use to represent it?

Character building

  • Basic types of Characters
    • Hero Characters
    • Supporting Characters
    • Villainous Characters
    • Innocent Characters
    • Extras
  • Hero doesn’t always mean “good-guy”
    • It means who we root for
  • Villain doesn’t always mean “bad-guy”
    • It means who is stopping the hero
  • Think about your character before you write them down
  • What kind of person/animal/creature are they?
    • What kind of mood are they usually in?
    • What do they like/dislike?
    • What’s their favorite color?
  • What are their strengths and flaws?
    • Make both of these important to the story
  • Is your character likely to change throughout the story?

Exercise: Character sheets

  • Write out the following on a sheet of paper:
    • Name:
    • Type of creature: (human, animal, monster, blood elf, etc..)
    • Age:
    • Sex (if any):
    • Size:
    • Mood:
    • Likes (at least 2):
    • Dislikes (at least 2):
    • Strengths:
    • Flaws:
    • Background:
  • Fill out the form for your character and then draw a picture of them
  • What kind of character is he? Main (hero)? Villainous? Supporting? Innocent?

Plot strings

  • If you introduce a new character or event, you must resolve it
    • A new character arrives, why?
    • Something happened, What does it do to the characters?
  • story lines are strings
    • When you make a new one, it starts with a not on one end
    • If you don’t tie it off at some point, it will unravel
  • The third act is a good place to tie up extra strings
  • Exercise: Comic book
    • Same as before, but keep track of story strings

Story Telling in Other Mediums

  • Everything you do communicates, and therefor tells a story
    • review some art, decide on what the story being told is
    • not everyone is told the same story through the same piece of art
    • What’s the most important thing in your story?
      • What would it look like in a picture?
      • What would be the song to represent it?
      • What form of dance would represent it?
  • Exercise: Paint a Story
    • Decide on your favorite scene in a story
    • Draw or paint that scene, but not with the actual characters
    • What colors make you feel what they feel?
    • Is it a fast exciting scene?
    • Is it a tender love scene?
    • Is it a scary scene?
    • How can you show that feeling without characters?

Day 3

  • Opening Exercise: Animal Adjectives
    • One child thinks up an animal
    • They describe, slowly, to the class (two small eyes, long nose, wings, furry, etc)
    • The other children draw what the animal
    • After, the child tells everyone the animal
    • Do the others’ drawings look like the animal described?

Message and Theme

  • What is the message your story tells?
  • What lesson do you want to teach the world?
  • How can you tell that?
  • Present the idea, and your thoughts on it, but don’t force it upon the reader/viewer
    • Let the viewer decide what it means to them
    • It’s ok for someone to see something else in your story besides your intended message
  • Exercise: Teach without telling
    • Write down 3 lessons/traits that you think are important, then pick 1
    • Stand up to the class and describe a situation where this lesson is important
      • maybe it really happened to you!
    • Don’t ever mention the actual lesson you want to teach
    • After, ask the others what they feel you were trying to teach them
    • Were they right? Were they even close?

Other Things to Think About in a Story:

  • Tense
    • Did this happen in the past?
    • Is it happening right now?
    • Will the story jump back and forward?
      • Are there flashbacks to before the story’s beginning?
      • Does the story recall things that happened earlier in the story?
  • Point of View
    • 1st person – “I”
      • Allows us to know more of the main character’s feelings
      • Limits us to only the character’s views
        • We don’t know how the other characters feel inside
      • We feel like the character is ourselves
    • Omniscient – “He, She, They”
      • The author is like God
      • We know how everyone feels
      • May be difficult to care as much about a specific character
    • Multiple? “I”, “I”, “I”
      • Much more difficult
      • Usually requires a longer and more complex story
      • Allows us to see the story for multiple viewpoints
  • Exercise: Sing a Story
    • Make up a scene for a story, starting in the middle of the story
    • If it were to break out into song (like a musical), how would the first verse go?
    • No one wants to listen to a drawn out detailed song
      • So how can you slim it down to only the important things?
      • Are facts the most important thing or the theme?


Goal: reviewing your work, editing, Story telling in other mediums

Day 1

  • Opening Exercise: Picky Puppet Production
    • Everyone makes a puppet out of sticks/ paper /cups
    • Make a play, choosing 2 students to start with their puppets
    • After apx 1 minute, say “change”
      • A new student brings in their character, announcing who their character is
      • The first character has to think up a reason to leave that still continues the story

My Own Story

  • Begin writing our own personal stories
    • Decide on your characters
      • Do another character sheet
    • Decide on your theme/message
    • Decide on your tense and POV
    • Make an outline using the 3-act structure
      • If you wish to a different structure, discuss it
  • Reviewing
    • After making an outline of your story, re-read it
      • Write down your 2 favorite things about the story
      • Write your 2 least favorite
    • Pass your outline to a friend
      • have them write their 2 favorites and least favorites
      • are they the same as yours?
    • Pass them one more time to a random classmate
      • Were the the same?
    • How can you make the least favorite parts better?
      • It’s ok if you truly feel they are ok
  • Exercise: Good, But Actually..
    • One person starts telling a story
    • After a few seconds, another person takes over, saying “Good, but actually..”
    • They change one part of the story, and continue on
    • “good, but actually it wasn’t his grandma, it was an alien”

Day 2

  • Opening Exercise: Sim City
    • Groups of 3-5
    • Design a city with:
      • Name:
      • Location:
      • Population:
      • Food:
      • Major attractions:
      • Major problem:
    • Then, brainstorm on how the city deals with the major problem
      • Does it always work?
      • Is it sustainable?
      • Does the solution have other consequences?

Continue Working on Stories

  • Free writing time
  • Repeat review exercise for finished story
    • Do your friend’s think the story has improved?
    • Do you like it better?
    • Did you lose anything you felt important?
  • Exercise: Phototronic Imagitorium™
    • Set up a small Photo Booth (Josh will do this)
    • Each person must bring at least one obscure prop or clothing from home
      • hats, glasses, swords, scarves, blankets, pipes, masks, etc
    • To enter the booth, each person must use at least one prop
      • “This is not what it is..”
        • How can we use the props in not their normal way?

Day 3

  • Opening Exercise: Dance a Story
    • Make up a scene for a story, starting at the end
    • How could you dance to convey what is happening?
    • Is it a sad ending? a happy ending? Is it funny?
    • What kind of dancing shows that best?
      • slow? fast? Changing speeds?
      • elagent? Jerky? Energetic? Powerful?

Presentation of stories

  • Everyone presents their stories
    • Do you feel like your story said everything you wanted to?
    • Now is the time for positive criticism
      • What did the others like best?
    • Are you proud of your story?
      • You should be.
        • You’ve just presented a new creation to the world
        • the world is more thoughtful, complex, and artistic because you did this

Promise From the Teacher

  • This course is short, and there is still so much more to learn
    • But you have already done the hardest and scariest part, which is to start
    • Creativity is a muscle, exercise it every day
      • The more you use it, the stronger it will get
  • Sometimes, your parents and adults (and maybe kids, too) won’t understand
    • They didn’t get the teaching you did
    • They need your help
    • Know that their misunderstanding is not a lack of love
  • I will always be here to teach
  • You will always have a way to teach and be taught
  • You are never abandoned

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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