I made these up about 10 years ago now, but I still use them and they are still popular. I talk about Dickens naming characters first and cite Mr Murdstone, Peggotty, Mr Bumble etc and ask children to say what kind of a character they are. You could use with other authors they know. J K Rowling does it similarly well.
Next we read extracts and infer from them what the character is like. Building up a profile much like the police do. I gave the children these profiles (as you can see this one heavily influenced by Mrs Doubtfire!) and they then write a piece to infer this content. The trick is never to say it directly of course and that can be hard.
I find a lot of drama works here to show them that they can infer what I'm like if I do/say certain things - e.g strumming fingers on table or saying 'You mark my words' all the time.
Check out Simon Bigwig and Nancy Mouseman who are my other two characters who seem almost real now! We've made up Jack Fletcher who is like Alex Rider and Dragons Den came out of another session. Willy Wonka characters work really well as the children already know the profile of the character so just need to pop them in an appropriate setting and add in action and speech. I love, love, love this unit - it's the best!
Nora Poppet Profile
Background – trained as a nanny, went to an all girls’ boarding school
Appearance – plump, wears glasses, slightly unkempt
Character- chatterbox, sweet-tooth, likes gardening
Nora Poppet arrived early at her job interview. She sat at a chair that was too narrow for her and noticed with horror that her skirt was slightly torn. “Oh well, I hope they don’t notice,”she said to herself as she cleaned her glasses with a corner of her shirt. She looked at the room again; it looked very similar to the common room at her old boarding school. A couple of dusty plants in the corner caught her attention. ‘Those plants need a good watering,’ she thought. Next, she looked more closely at the photographs on the mantelpiece. The family she was hoping to work for was very nice- looking. The three kids looked adorable, and she couldn’t wait to meet them.
By I. Ivy (Y5) ©
While the kettle was boiling, Nora looked out of the window and admired all her handiwork in her beautifully-planted garden. She thought of how all the many children she had looked after would love to play in the garden. Now she had retired, she missed her job. She adjusted her glasses as she wiped a tear from her eye. She reached up and took out a delicious sponge cake from the top cupboard. She was determined to cut a small slice since her waistbands were getting tighter and tighter!
By E.Hardy (Y5) ©
Satisfied, Nora tied the ribbon around the Christmas present. It was only November, but she liked to be prepared. She'd leant that in the Girl Guides all those years ago and it had served her well. Just then, the phone rang. It was the local vicar. Reverend Jones had called to ask if she wouldn't mind sorting out the rota for the church brass-cleaning and baking a cake for the next coffee morning. Flattered, Nora readily accepted, and although the vicar had anticipated a brief phone call, he was astounded to realise that such a simple request had taken 45 minutes of his time and he'd barely uttered a word! (K McCallam)
Exhausted, Nora brushed a weathered hand over her brow and placed the trowel in the soil.
Delighted, if somewhat overwhelmed, Nora blushed as she bustled her way to the stage to accept her prize.
Confused, Nora wondered who the man at the door was. As she peered through the window, she noticed his sharp suit, briefcase and well -polished shoes.
Disappointed, Nora placed the telephone back into the receiver. No answer again.
What Not To Do - Texts to Improve
Nora poppet went inside the cafe. She put her umbrella in the stand and went to the counter to make her order. Looking at the menu. She licked her lips then getting out her purse. Victoria sandwich, choclate fudge cake and home-made scones, how could she ever choose. She knew she shouldn’t have come in - far better to have finished her walk and gone strate home. But it was lonely at her house and she liked cake and she didn’t want to get wet. She has a new coat on too.
nora poppet was a nice lady. She was fat but she was nice and as friendly as an elf. She wasn’t cheeky tho, like an elf, she was just a good person. She was so good that she was kind to all children even norty ones and rood ones. She is so kind that she often bakes cakes for the school fete and gives flowers to old peoples from her gardin. She was a bit poor too but clever and she likes to watch television and sleep and sometimes read but not hard books. One day she went to the library, hello she said, hello the man said back. how are you she said…