June is fast approaching, and for many kids, this means that summer break is just around the corner. If you’re a busy parent, guardian, or caretaker, you may not yet have figured out how you’re going to help the kids fill all of those idle hours, some of which might be too hot for outdoor play.
Want a fun activity that will help exercise their creative side? If your kids have superheroes on the brain from watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, take advantage of their enthusiasm and get them started creating their own characters!
The Internet is full of cool tools to get the superhero brainstorm started. Supervise the process, or join in on the fun of making your own masked crime fighter!
What’s in a Name?
A great superhero name can imply information that fills in so many other gaps in the process, like powers, origins, and even motivation. With thousands upon thousands of superhero comics and shows in print though, finding a good original name can be a major challenge.
Random generators are your best friend if you can’t come up with an inspiring name on your own. Check out the Seventh Sanctum’s Superhero Name Generator to get some ideas. You can generate hero and villain names from the entire library of terms, or narrow things down if you already know a bit about the hero. For our blue hero in the top image, I narrowed my search and got a nice heroic name: Cosmopacer!
With younger kids, you may get the most mileage out of the Silly Superhero Name Generator. When that one generates a name like Polkastrike or Major Mascara, you’ve got a great foundation for a wacky hero or villain.
Image is Everything
Once you have your hero’s theme in mind, you’ll want to know what he or she looks like. Some kids are confident in their artistic talents and will happily start drawing their heroic visions, but others might be a bit more self-conscious, or just need some ideas to prime their creativity.
The good news is that there are several hero image generators out there that let you assemble and color a professional looking character from a wide assortment of parts. Younger users will likely be most at home with Marvel’s Create Your Own Superhero. It’s limited in scope, and doesn’t drown a casual user in a sea of options.
More advanced hero makers can employ the full power of HeroMachine, which has extensive libraries of fantasy, sci-fi, and modern parts in addition to some suitable superhero wear. You can even add companion creatures to the image; great for that hero who fights alongside a trusty wolf or other animal.
Once you have your hero ready, you’ll want to go back through the steps above at least one more time. Why? Every good hero needs a villain to fight. Once you have a suitable nemesis, it’s time to write your hero’s first story…
If you’re working with one who doesn’t know how to touch type yet, you can just have the child hand write their story in a notebook, or you can take dictation if you’re willing to type for them. The storytelling experience can grow richer though with technology, especially if school friends or neighbors are joining in on the fun.
Consider having all of the caretakers involved establish Google accounts so that the children can share their stories via your Google Drive. If the kids ever want to collaborate on a story with all of their heroes together, you can recreate the old school activity of passing a story around and having each child write a paragraph by collaborating in real time on Drive. For older children who know how to responsibly use a Facebook account, a Facebook group could be a suitable place to conveniently share all of the heroic stories too.
As the young writers tell more stories, it might become difficult for them to come up with fresh ideas. Online writing prompts are everywhere, and they can help break through mental blocks to find inspiration. For example, use the ones listed here at LitBridge. It can also help to check out free sample comics online from Marvel and from DC to get fresh ideas. You may want to supervise or pre-read this content though, to make sure that the issues are suitable for your kids.
A City of Heroes
These steps can be repeated over and over to add more heroes to a universe that your kids enjoy with you, or share with their friends. The bigger the collection gets, the more fun potential there is for crossover stories. Can Cosmopacer and Major Mascara put aside their differences to take down the nefarious Polkastrike? There’s only one way to find out. Start telling stories!
Do you have clever activities planned to entertain and engage your own children this summer? Share yours in the comments!
Need another summer activity? See how your kids can make better movies with their smartphones.
Image Credit: Writing in the Journal by Erin Kohlenberg. Comic Books by Sam Howzit.