My daughter just finished a week of Young Writers' Camp at Gemini Ink, a nonprofit, independent literary center in San Antonio, Texas. It was our first dealings with this organization, and I have to say I was very impressed. My daughter loved the lessons and time spent writing and can't wait for her public reading on Sunday. Of course, I was picking her brain each afternoon after camp to see what juicy gems I could carry into a classroom. An exercise in character development was one of my favorites.
The instructor wrote a signature on the board and the students had to develop a character based on that. They analyzed the name itself, the shape and structure of the signature, and all the other little nuances. From that, they painted a description of a character in both words and pictures. It was such a simple exercise, but allowed so much creativity and discussion. I will definitely be trying this in a classroom in the near future.