Monday, February 20, 2017

4-Word Picture Stories

This is an activity which I got from Bob Patrick (and I don't know from whom - if anyone - he got this idea). Bob and I both teach all nine sections of Latin 1 at our school. I am the one in charge of creating lesson plans, and as we were starting a new chapter of Brando Brown Canem Vult, I was wanting to pre-teach some new vocabulary. My idea was for students to give students four new vocabulary words and for them to draw a visual representation of three of the four new vocabulary words. Bob took it one step further and had students draw a 4-frame cartoon involving the 4 new words and to create a very short "story" in Latin as captions for the cartoon - students could only use known words in their story. I really liked this idea and put my spin on the activity. 

For this activity, I gave students seven words, of which they had to choose at least four to use (four of the seven words were completely new, and three were words which I wanted to recycle from the past, because I did not feel like many had truly acquired them). Like Bob, I then had them illustrate a 4-frame cartoon which incorporated those four words and to write a short 4-sentence minimum "story" in Latin which used those 4 words. Again, they could only use words which they knew and learned in class, i.e., no Google Translate! There had to be a minimum of one sentence per frame, but students could write more if they wanted.

I then took a number of their cartoons/stories and edited them for grammar errors. After this, I scanned their pictures and created a Google Slides presentation to show them over the next few days as warmups (3-4/day). The scanning and creating Google Slides presentations did take some time and effort to complete. 

The seven words, from which students had to select at least four, were: 
  1. castellum - castle/fort
  2. prandet - eats lunch
  3. custodit - is guarding
  4. fingit se - pretends that he/she
  5. catulus - puppy
  6. petit - heads for
  7. dux - leader

  1. Because these stories were written by students (and edited for grammar by me), the stories were completely comprehensible to them, because they were level-appropriate.
  2. Students really enjoyed seeing each other's stories. Many liked that their story had been picked to show!
  3. Many students enjoyed the freedom of choice in choosing which words to use, because it allowed them to be creative.
  4. Because students had to incorporate at least four of the seven words into their stories, this allowed for LOTS of repetitions of words, since every story had some degree of commonality of vocabulary. 
  5. Even though students had to use four of the seven words in their stories, no student had the same exact story, so it allowed for LOTS of creativity.
  6. Because the stories were short (usually 4-6 sentences), it allowed for novelty and kept students engaged.


  1. The post came to me via email and I was going to comment saying "I want to see some examples!!" Of course when I actually visited the link...there they are! Love it; thanks for sharing!

  2. So doable and simple. Brilliant!