Project: Word-Bubble Blanks

Posted: under All Ages, English, Foreign Language, Penny Arcade.
December 19th, 2008

This is a fun and super-easy project that I’ve done with EFL learners.  My students were Japanese kids between the ages of twelve and fifteen, although I’m sure that this basic idea could be modified to work for any age group studying any language.

You’ve probably heard of this one before, too.  It’s easy: Just pick a comic strip, blank out the word bubbles, hand the “blanked” strip to your students, and let them fill in the word bubbles with their own funny, creative dialogue.

Also, this wasn’t my idea.  I can’t even remember where I first came across this idea, as it’s been posted to many forums and “teacher resources” websites before.  But I do remember that somehow, somewhen, I actually picked up on the idea of using Penny Arcade strips from Karen Healey.  And Penny Arcade strips really do work beautifully, since they tend to feature lush, highly expressive cartoony artwork, which in turn inspires some pretty creative results from students.

Here are two strips that worked well for me.

Original Strip

Original Strip

I’ve admittedly never tried this exercise with other strips before, but I imagine that Peanuts strips, or certain strips from Calvin and Hobbes, would work equally as well.

Now this would be the part where I post some of the best results from what my students have done with their strips.  Unfortunately, I can’t get any of my Japanese students to give me permission to post their strips on this here blog, because they’re shy.  I’m working on it, though.  They were the ones who taught me how to perfect the art of puppy-dog eyes in the first place.


  • 1

    I really like this idea, but doesn’t it interfere with the creators’ copyright? And, is that a good example for kids? Having said that, I’d love to try this in good conscience with my 7th and 8th graders!

    Comment by Elleng — February 4, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  • 2

    I believe the penny arcade guys actually did this themselves with some kids in an art class once.

    Comment by james — February 4, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

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