Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Narrative Cartoons

Water in Africa

Africa, Ghana
Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Arts & Music, Language Arts & Literature
One to two class periods

Young people are drawn to reading and drawing comic strips, but many young people define and restrict comic strips to pictorial images of super heroes. This lesson is designed to draw upon the interest that young people have in cartoons, and at the same time introduce students to techniques of creating alternative styles. Based on essays and photos provided by Peace Corps Volunteers, students will create a narrative cartoon, a set of sequentially placed images that tell a story. The narrative comic strip may depict one activity or be a collage of various activities. See samples of the student artwork from this lesson created by students from Roberto Clemente Community Academy in Chicago.


Students will

  • Collect relevant information from the Water in Africa Theme Page and create a series of images that tell a story.
  • Use drawing styles to enhance the message of the story.
  • Comicstrip: a sequence of cartoons that tells a story.
  • Africa: one of the largest continents on Earth. It has 53 countries and is known for many things including large deserts and many animals.


  • 8.5” x 11” heavy weight paper
  • Crayons, markers, or pencils


Note: A day or two before introducing the lesson, have students bring in one of their favorite comic strips.

  1. Have students share the comic strips they brought from home, explaining why they like it. Some questions you can ask the class include:
    • Who are the characters in the cartoons?
    • Are the cartoons in color or black and white?
    • Is the focus on the words or the drawings in a cartoon?
    • How is a cartoon organized? Are the pictures arranged in some sort of order, or are they randomly placed?
    • Are there many details in the drawings?
  2. Choose a country on the Water in Africa Theme Page and introduce the students to the stories, essays, and photos related to that country.
  3. Have the students create their own comic strips to retell some of the things they saw in the photos or heard in the essays. The comic strip should reflect what life is like for those in the photos or essays. An easy way to do this is to have the students create a comic strip focusing on what a typical day would be like in the country you have chosen. The comic strip can be from a child's point of view or even from the student's point of view if he or she lived in that country. What would a typical day be like? What would someone have to do to find water?
  4. Instruct the students to first draw the outside borders of each panel, including a title panel. Panels may all be the same size or they may vary in size; however, the number of panels drawn should fill the entire 8.5?x 11 paper.
  5. After the panels have been drawn, have students begin drawing their narrative cartoons inside each panel.

Frameworks & Standards

Essential Questions
  • How can a comic strip tell a story?
  • How are our lives different than those in the selected country?

Visual Arts Standards

  • Standard 1: Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
  • Standard 3: Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols and Ideas
  • Standard 4: Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures

Language Arts Standards

  • Standard 2: Understanding the Human Experience
  • Standard 4: Communication Skills


Create a class newspaper with stories about the importance of water, and include the students’ comic strips.

Browse More Lesson Plans