I had a great day yesterday at Orchard Infant School on the edge if the New Forest. As part of World Book Day the staff and children would be dressing up as their favourite storybook characters and they asked me to come in and work with children on how to create their own.
After a rather mad and funny assembly of staff hamming it up in their costumes, where I was somehow turned from an author into being a visiting Arthur, things settled down somewhat into class by class visits.
To get the children thinking the classes were divided up into groups of three with each child in that group being given a number, 1, 2 or 3. If the child was number one they had to think of the first name of the oldest person they knew (possibly a grandparent). If number two they had to think of an adjective, and if number three they had to think of a body part. When all put together we had some excellent character names, such as Victor Curly-Arms, Richard Tall-Heart (a knight if ever there was one), and Jenny Long-Fingers (a witch, I reckon). We picked one per class which I then drew, attempting not to do the obvious each time, and then they got the opportunity to draw theirs but on the understanding that each member of the group took their own approach to it. The children were encouraged to think about what sort of adventure the character might have to help influence the look too. The variety and inventiveness was brilliant, with princesses, robots, heroes, cats, and all manner of new characters exploding upon the pages. Incredibly good fun!