Help Your Students Save the World with These 31 Glorious Draw My Life Video Lesson Plans
It all started back in 2011 when 12-yr-old Irish musician Bry O’Reilly posted a video narrating his life. He used hand-drawn scraps of paper, with magic marker, taking audiences on a journey of his life from infancy to adulthood (tweenhood).
Since then, the Draw My Life video storytelling movement, has exploded! There are over 900,000 publicly shared search results for “Draw My Life” on Google and over 1.2 million subscribers to the Draw My life Channel, which showcases various videos of the genre.
What exactly is a Draw My Life video?
The name is self-explanatory, people draw out their lives on a white canvas, inserting all the significant life events that made them who they are today, and then present it in video. Whiteboard animation is the most popular video technique, but adding pictures, live footage, and even cupcake narrations (more on that below) – have added a whole new spin to the genre.
Who is Using Draw My Life?
Or…better yet, who isn’t using Draw My Life!?
Although it started out as a tool to share your autobiography, Draw My Life has morphed into much more! Artists use it in their portfolios, new employees use it to introduce themselves to the company, celebrities use it to share their personal lives, therapists use it with patients and of course – teachers assign them as class projects for their students.
Draw My Life in the Classroom
Before the rise of of the smartphone, homework involved pencil, paper or … Microsoft Word. Between 2008 – 2010, mobile phones use became widespread and the iPad took over the classroom. Today mobile apps and cloud based programs are an integral part of teaching (if not a requirement), so teachers have jumped at the chance to use video creation tools in their lessons and coursework.
Technology May Change But the Elements of Good Storytelling Remain the Same
Draw My life Videos are successful because they all share an underlying concept – The Heroes Journey. First laid out by Author Joseph Campbell, The Heroes Journey is an archetypal story template that follows a hero as s/he falls and rises. The hero faces adversity, overcomes it (by growing, learning/ traveling/ befriending someone etc….) then faces more adversity, overcomes it – and returns home, to the present day.
The Hero’s journey, as stated by Well-Storied.com, “will end where it began, though [their] internal journey as a character will leave them forever changed”
You Have the basics down, So …
How Can You Turn Draw My Life Videos into a Lesson Plan – with Powtoon?
- Talk about the value of storytelling- pose the question: What makes a good story?
- Choose one of the 31 lesson ideas below (or create your own). Have students write out key events of their journey. (Help them out with a list of bullet points, or a fill-in-the-blank timeline).
- Storyboarding – teach storytelling skills via storyboards (a scene with text and images).
- Have your students draw a square, add text and simple images – even stick figures work – then arrange these squares in sequence.
- Record voiceover and upload to Powtoon.
- Record video and upload to Powtoon OR start turning those drawn scenes into animated slides.
- SHARE WITH THE WORLD!
31 Glorious Draw My Life Video Lessons
1. Draw My Life – Autobiography
Let’s start with the classic Draw My Life video – The Creator narrates the journey of their life, including where they were born, major milestones in childhood, trips taken, fun had, disappointments, success and current day status. This simple lesson plan requires each student to reflect, appreciate the good, find their strengths, recognize their faults, deal with pain and perhaps plan for the coming year. This clever gal uses cupcakes and frosting to share her story:
2. Draw My Day/Week/Year
The life of a child or teen has ups and downs – on a daily basis, so if recalling their entire life in a video seems a bit intimidating, start your students off with a shorter period of time.
3. Draw My Future – A Vision Board Exercise
This is where the impossible becomes concrete. Ask your students where they see themselves in the future? President, biochemist, opera singer? Then work backwards. What did they do from that point in time, to achieve that goal? Draw it out and make it a video.
4. Draw His/Her Life – The Make Someone Feel Special Project
Everyone you’ll ever meet knows something you don’t know, especially our Elders.
Most children live in a bubble. By nature they are egocentric, assuming the world revolves around them. It’s time to take them out of their bubble; Assign the students to interview and “Draw an Elder’s Life.” The subject can be a grandparent, neighbor, veteran or a resident in a nursing home. Your students will see another’s point of view. In addition, the often neglected elderly – will have an outlet to share their wisdom; telling tales to those who will listen.
5. Draw a Historical Figure/Icon’s Life Video
This one is straightforward- throw out the boring word document and replace it with a Draw My Life video instead, narrated by your voice. By reliving Einstein, Steve Jobs or the Dalai Lama’s story – in first person, your students will connect to facts on a much deeper level (bonus – visual elements aid in memory)! Introducing Draw My Life – Tesla
6. Draw My Living Hero Video
Whether it’s the band members of One Direction or Olympian Usain Bolt, we all have those role models we look up to. Assigning your students to Draw the Life of someone they admire is fun and exciting. Perhaps their hero overcame obstacles that are unimaginable….or perhaps life isn’t as glamorous as it seems…. `check out this Draw My Life video of Elon Musk:
7. Draw My Fictional Character’s Life – Book Report of the Future Video
Yes, you can already create video book reports, but re-telling the plot – via a fictional character – through his/her perspective – in a video – is a pretty sweet twist (and very original). Here’s a great example of Harry Potter:
8. Draw My Classic Literature Video
There have been about 5 remakes of Romeo and Juliet, 3 of the Scarlet Letter. These poems and novels remain timeless because they are well written (and somewhat provoking). Yet, the visual component to these classics remain fresh, changing and adapting throughout the years. Why not have your students breathe a new life to the classics with video?
9. Draw My Struggle Video – Stop Internalizing Pain
The statistics look grim for children and and young adults. Studies have shown that the amount of time spent on social media directly contributes to increased levels of depression, lower self esteem and suicidal thoughts. It’s difficult for young students to differentiate between the picture perfect posts they see on Instagram and their less-than-perfect reality.
Well, it’s time to bring back students’ confidence. Ask your students to describe a struggle they’ve encountered and how they’ve overcome it. If they are in the midst of a struggle, what steps can they take to improve the situation? (of course, these videos do not have to be shared with the whole class.)
Chuz, a member of the BoredPanda community writes “I have a high functioning type of severe depression… When people ask me ‘how do you feel?’ and actually want a genuine answer, I struggle to find the words. And thus, the drawings became a communication tool to show the turmoil below the surface.”
10. Draw My Phobia Video
Arachnophobia, xenophobia and glossophobia (fear of public speaking, not fear of lip-gloss, as I had presumed) are among the top phobias. We all have phobias; My co-worker has a paralysing fear of fish. I have a fear of cold weather. Whatever your fear is, You can conquer it! When did it start? how has it effected you? What have you done to cope with it or overcome it?
11. Draw My Extinction Video
Animals and plants go extinct EVERY SINGLE DAY; this includes mammals, Fish, Birds, Insects, ferns, flowers… down to microbial fungus. Ask your students to choose an organism that once thrived – and went extincet. What causes that led to its extinction? what can we do today to prevent the same from happening to similar species? (How2Draw is a great channel – for all drawing levels -to get your animal drawing skills up to Par)!
12. Draw My Rescue – Endangered Fauna & Flora Video
Draw My Rescue is similar to the Draw My Life Extinction video, except it offers hope, these species can still be saved! If you were a snow leopard or rainforest frog, what could be done to save your species? This video should end with a Call to Action (donate/ educate/ support…) Big Cat Rescue Shares their mission:
13. Draw My Event Video
Did your student have the birthday of a lifetime? The most memorable Christmas ever? The most awesome zoo volunteering week? Have your class Draw My Event. Students can upload pictures they snapped and videos they shot, straight from their phone via the Powtoon Connect App, where it awaits right in their media folder, in the Powtoon studio.
14. Draw My Family Video
It’s time for some family bonding! Pose a question to your students: how does each member of your family contribute something unique to your family unit? (What are your sister’s strengths, what quote does dad always say, what snack does grandpa always buy for you?)…..then storyboard it!
15. Draw My Life Silently- Charlie Chaplan Style Video
While the traditional Draw My life Video is narrated with voiceover – why not allow music, text and powerful images do the talking? Connect concepts via arrows and colors, separate via transitions… then add a sweet soundtrack….When speech is limited imagination flourishes!
16. Draw My Historic Moment Video
If D-Day could speak what would it say? If the Boston Tea party could tell you what really went on…what would it look like? Have your students research what led up to these events and how they played out, from the perspective of the event. Check out this great Draw My Life – Industrial Revolution style:
17. Animal Abuse – Draw the Life of Those Who Have No Voice Video
China breeds tigers in tiger farms, so they can harvest and sell their organs. Draw the Tiger’s life and SHARE. Elephants in Thailand are raised in isolation so they can perform for tourists. Draw that Elephants’s Life and SHARE. In South Korea dogs are bred inhumanely and sold for meat. In this Draw My Life video, that story was shared:
18. Draw My Better World – Recycle, Volunteer, Educate Video
Although it may seem like the planet is being completely destroyed, rest assured- videos like these show that processes are being put in place to save our precious Earth! Check out this Draw My Life video on recycling plastic bottles! Have your students report on an organization/ process/ law that helps protect our environment!
19. Draw My Human Rights
Yup, it’s a heavy topic; Drawing the life of a child laborer in Indonesia or refugee from Darfur. Help students tackle the issues by assigning them as research topics. Students can read through peer reviewed journals, newspapers and science based sites to come to their own revelations and conclusions about the injustices in the world. Then, they can spread their videos as a means of awareness to others.
20. Draw My Family Tree Video
Go way back…as far back as you can. Draw family roots, connect generations and let us know about all the Great-great-great-great-great-grandparents that led to the birth of the awesomeness that is you!
21. Draw My Culture Video
Do you celebrate certain holidays in your culture? Eat special foods? Dress in a special set of clothing? This is where you explain the meaning of Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July or why women in India may wear red on their wedding day!
22. Draw My Science History Video
A great way to teach the history of science, or a science phenomenon, is through a video storiy. How cool would it be if the narrator were, let’s say ….. a gene; explaining how he/she/it was discovered (Darwin to Mendel to the human genome to today) or if you were a camera being built in the 18oo’s Vs today…or what if you you were Math?:
23. Draw My Biology Video
There is a reason biology is one of the most popular science majors in college, it’s so amazingly visual! Have your students ‘Draw My digestive system,’ ‘Draw My blood coagulation,’ ‘Draw My hair growing,’ ‘Draw My cavity forming’…. Add health tips along the way. This way students learn science and also learn about improving their health! Win Win.
24. Draw my Path Video
This Draw My Life video variation is great for elements that involve cycles or destinations. For example, a water droplet and the water cycle, geese migrating, a subway train line… or a philosophical argument that has a conclusion (well, some sort of conclusion):
25. Guess My Life Video
Pick a person, place or thing- Draw his/her/its life without revealing the identity. See who can guess correctly.
26. Draw My Inanimate object’s Life Video
Bicycles have feelings too! Well, ok they don’t really feel emotions….but what if they did? Have your students choose an inanimate object and create a Draw My Life from the object’s perspective. What does it feel like to be a sidewalk stepped on all day? Or a pair of glasses on a tall Dutchman?
27. Draw My Original Character’s Life Video
Instead of reading comics and watching Pixar, have your students create their own original character or superhero. Where did the character originate? What do they do? Who do they meet? Create a Draw My Life video around the Character and it’s story.
30. Draw My Bully Video – National Anti-Bully Week
The Trauma that occurs from being bullied can last a lifetime. If children don’t know how to deal with bullies or don’t seek help to make the bullying stop, they will continue to endure pointless suffering. Draw My Life videos gives children an outlet to let it out: (hmm… that’s why it’s called outlet!)
29. Draw my Bully Video – Assignment for Bullies
This is a great assignment to give to class bullies! Have the ‘Bullies’ listen to/watch stories of children who were bullied. Then have them draw out how the bully treats others, in storyboard form.
30. Draw My Quotations Video
Create a Draw my Life based primarily off quotations… Each quotation represents a different phase of life, a feeling or a wisdom learned.
31. Draw MY____________? Students offer Ideas
The Only thing better than completing a fun assignment, is giving a fun assignment! Share all the Draw My Life Video Ideas that exist and challenge your students to come up witheir own Draw My Life Video challenge!
There you have it! 31 Ways to elevate the traditional story into a Draw My Life video that can be shared with the world! Let us know what you think of these lessons, and let us know if you have any other Draw My life Ideas!
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