Kids love to color and to tell stories, so having them draw cartoons for an afternoon is a great way to keep them entertained and happy and keep the TV off. There are plenty of ways to have lots of fun with cartoons even for children and as a young as five years old. They don’t even have to draw well.
All you need to keep them busy is about 50 sheets of regular copy paper and some pens or crayons. To make the squares that would create a comic strip storyboard, fold the paper half-way lengthwise and then in thirds width-wise. Now you have six rectangles for the storyboard. You can also fold the paper in half for just two comic strip boxes, or in quarters if that’s what the children want to do. Any words for the cartoon strip can go in the bottom part of each rectangle, or older children can draw a speech bubbles and have their characters words in the bubbles.
Keep your childrens’ expectations low for how good their drawings have to be. Stick figures are perfectly acceptable as cartoons. Even large circles with a couple dots to represent a person or an animal are absolutely okay. Have each child think up a simple story to try to represent in their comic strip. The story does not have to be funny, and it does not have to be a new story. You could have them tell the story above Little Red Riding Hood, or the story of SpongeBob SquarePants finding a treasure. Or a story about them finding a treasure. Anything goes.
For slightly older children of age eight or more, there is a terrific way to show people in action using just five dots and a couple of lines. The first dot is the person’s head, and then the next two dots are their hands, and then the last two dots are their feet. Now you draw the lines to connect the dots, and to show the person’s arms and legs and body. Make an upside down “Y” connecting the head and then going down to the feet. Then make a line through the top part of the “Y” to show the arms and connect the hands of the person. This can be a really great game, with one child drawing five dots in any matter of arrangement, and then the other child connecting the dots to create a person in a certain pose. It is a nice alternative to tic-tac-toe.
If drawing is not working for your children, you can also give them an old magazine with some safety scissors and have them cut out pictures from the magazine and paste them into their comic book storyboard. Then they can write their own stories around the images from the magazine. It can be extremely interesting to see what kind of story lines children come up with. And in fact it might be more interesting for the adults, ultimately, than for the children. But it’s definitely a great way to pass the time on a rainy afternoon.