ARTSEDGE Lessons for Elementary School

Creating Comic Strips

Weave words and pictures together in a comic strip format to convey nonfiction information


Key Staff

This lesson can be taught by a classroom teacher.

Key Skills

Making Art: Composing and Planning, Producing, Executing and Performing
Creative Thinking: Creativity and Innovation


Starting with the familiar Peanuts comic strip characters in the form of video and print media, students explore comic strips as a form of communication of both fiction and nonfiction. In this lesson, each student creates an original comic strip to convey a mathematical concept to share with a younger student. The class then presents and shares the collection of comic strips as a math reference book to students in a lower grade.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Look at the evolution of comic strips using the familiar Peanuts comic strips and other comic strips
  • Explore comic strips from the perspective of story (setting, character, plot)
  • Evaluate comic strips by looking at words, pictures, and how they work together
  • Create an original comic strip to convey mathematical information
  • Share their comic strips with younger students as a reference tool

Teaching Approach

Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Discussion
  • Hands-On Learning
  • Group or Individual Instruction
  • Studio Practice

Assessment Type

Performance Assessment


What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Learner
  • Projector
  • DVD Player
Technology Notes

You will need Internet access.

Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

Teachers should prepare for this lesson by doing the following:

  • Obtain and review the book: Art for Kids: Comic Strips: Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish by Art Roche
  • Select a Peanuts video (preferably a creative nonfiction video) or review the short online segment of a Charlie Brown Video
  • Review Early Peanuts Comics (1950-1968)
  • Review and select comic strips that are appropriate for your class.
  • Review the history of comic strips
  • Review parts of a story.

Prior Student Knowledge

  • Understanding of math skills from previous grade
  • Familiarity with parts of a story (setting, characters, plot)

Physical Space



  • Large Group Instruction
  • Small Group Instruction

Accessibility Notes

Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.



1. Show Peanuts comic strip video. Show either the online excerpt of Charlie Brown Independence Day Video or a full-length Peanuts video, such as Charlie Brown Independence Day, The Mayflower Voyagers, The Birth of the Constitution, The NASA Space Station, etc. Ask students:

  • Who is familiar with the Peanuts characters?
  • What other Peanut shows have you seen?
  • For this video, what is the setting?
  • Who are the characters?
  • What is the goal of the production?
  • What art technique is used to produce this video?
  • Is this fiction or nonfiction? (It is creative nonfiction, using fictional characters to share factual information.)

Build Knowledge

1. Explore the evolution of Early Peanuts Comics (1950-1968). Ask students:

  • What is the same about these comic strips?
  • What is different about these comic strips?
  • How many frames are used in each strip? (For these strips, four frames are used. The students will later create a 4-frame comic strip.)
    What role does color play in creating these comic strips?
  • Who created these comic strips? (Introduce the creator, Charles Schultz, to the class.)

2. Discuss the history of comic strips. Share that comic strips have been used as a communications tool for over 100 years and the first successful daily comic strip was Mutt and Jeff, started in 1907. Comic strips are used to tell a story. Comic strips have the three main parts of a story:

  • Setting
  • Characters
  • Plot

Comic strips use words and pictures equally. Comic strips use a series of frames to show story movement.

3. Explore other comic strips . Have students work either independently, in groups, or as a class to explore other comic strips. (Assign age-appropriate comic strips.) Examine each comic strip for parts of a story, the use of words and pictures, and the number of frames used.

4 . Discuss the use of comic strips to convey factual information. Ask students:

  • What factual information was shared in the Peanuts video (at the beginning of this lesson)?
  • What other factual information can be shared using a comic strip?
  • Why would a comic strip creator want to share nonfiction information in this format?


1. Create original comic strips. Using the Comic Strip Template Worksheet located within the Resource Carousel, have each student create a 4-frame comic strip to convey a math concept. Assign a math concept (learned or reinforced in the student’s previous grade) to each student. Using the three parts of a story, have each student create a comic strip to share the math concept. Have the student first work in pencil (drawing lightly). Review each comic strip draft for accuracy. Once approved, ask the student to “ink” the strip using a permanent fine tip marker. Erase any remaining pencil marks. Each student should title (top line) and sign (bottom line) his or her strip.

2. Create a Math by Comic Strip book. Compile all comic strips into a single book. (You may want to create two books: one to share and one to keep as a classroom resource for your class.)


1. Share the Math by Comic Strip book with students in the previous grade. Have each student present his or her comic strip to another student or the class. Ask your students:

  • Were students able to understand your math concept by reading your comic strip?
  • How well did your pictures and words work together?
  • Were the three parts of a story present in your comic strip?
  • What did you do well?
  • What would you do differently?
  • What did you learn by creating this comic strip?
  • What other subject(s) or topic(s) could we create a comic strip book about?
  • Who would the audience for this book be?

Extended Learning

Teachers may choose to extend this lesson by having students:

  • Create additional comic strip books in a similar manner.
  • Create comic strips using online comic strip tools, such as Bitstrips Comic Creator or Comic Creator.
  • Explore other comic strip artists.
  • Compare and contrast a classic novel and a classic graphic, such as Tales of Brothers Grimm or Treasure Island.
  • Explore a nonfiction graphic novel, such as Greek and Roman Mythology.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education
Visual Arts

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 2: Using knowledge of structures and functions

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

National Standards in Other Subjects
Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

Language Arts Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process

Language Arts Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

Language Arts Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media



Carol Parenzan Smalley
Original Writer

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Use this collection of resources and articles to devise an approach for supporting individual needs in the classroom: from English Language Learners or students with disabilities, to conflict resolution and giving feedback.



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