Creativity, Chameleons, and Fan Fiction Art!

Patty Palmer’s “A Color of His Own” Art lesson inspired me to think about the possibilities of children creating their own versions of stories and related art – sort of like fan fiction art! In Patty Palmer’s lesson, children create water color versions of chameleons from Leo Lionni’s A Color of His Own after reading the book. What might this have to do with creativity, learning, or fan fiction?

Original photo by William Warby
Original photo by William Warby

What do chameleons have to do with creativity and kids?

I started thinking about how chameleons change their colors and thought how neat it might be if children had an opportunity to create a series of chameleons in different situations. (Originally, I thought that they changed their colors to match their surroundings until I learned a bit more, and then even found out that scientists believe that crystals help chameleons change their color!) So, how might children move from telling stories about chameleons to creating fan fiction and art?

Photo by Kuhnmi
Photo by Kuhnmi

Can children create fan fiction art?

If you are not familiar with fan fiction, it is basically when people create new narratives for book characters did not occur in the original stories. Why not provide similar opportunities for kids to be creative and artistic?

Having children imagine new narratives, actions, or places with their favorite book characters opens many possibilities for creative thinking. For instance, after reading the book A Color of His Own, children could create new situations for the chameleon and express what the chameleon might want to communicate through their art! Have you observed children play in similar ways?

Strategies to support children engaging in fan fiction and art:

  • Invite children to invent new story lines or scenes that extend or modify a book they like.
  • Have children create the art that expresses the scene.
  • Invite children to act out their scene (puppets anyone?!)
  • Display the art series or new book of imagery that tells their own version of a story!
  • Invite children to make some music that tells the new story or scene
Photo by ArminFlickr
Photo by ArminFlickr

Looking to spice up a science curriculum or add some creativity to a zoo visit?

This STEAM project is a wonderful opportunity to blend the arts with science for so many creative possibilities.

An approach to enrichment, home school curriculum, or arts education?!

While this approach can be used with any book, if you are focused on Leo Lionni’s A Color of His Own, (or chameleons) take a look at some of the following resources and activities online and other books featuring chameleons

Teaching children philosophy through A Color of His Own

A fun way to create pipe cleaner chameleons from Lines Across

Use a chameleon stencil to create many different chameleons from Artsy Momma

Make paper chameleon puppets (video tutorial by a 6-year old!)

San Diego Zoo’s information on chameleons

Chameleons online list of related resources

Have children act out their chameleon stories with this puppet with moving eyes and tongue!

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Other books with information on chameleons or feature chameleons as characters:

chameleon-ericcarleThe Mixed Up Chameleon by Eric Carle

Chameleon’s Colors by Chisato Tashiro

Chameleons are Cool by Martin Jenkins

Chameleon Chameleon by Joy Cowley

These ideas and resources can be applied in any homeschool music appreciation program, science classes, or even just for fun at home!

Have your children created any fan fiction stories or art? (Please share if they have!)

Would you include fan fiction art in your classroom or homeschool program?

What other ways of connecting science and art or approaches to STEAM have you explored?