A fun way to get students to review characterization, practice getting details in their writing, and do some creative writing is to have them create caricatures, brief character sketches based on persons or characters from a text, film, photograph, painting, etc. 

Grade Level/Age: 10th grade (15-16 years)

Curriculum Addressed: The focus of the curriculum is on critical thinking, close reading, and composition.

Materials: You can use any source to use for this activity, but photographs or paintings tend work best.  Students like to start with a visual image to add details to as they write.

Process Goals: Students add detail and description to add depth to a visual image or written text in order to bring a character to life.


  1. Show students a visual image of a person or a small description of a character from a text.  
  2. Students begin to creatively characterize the image or text in their writing – i.e., physical description, action, inner thoughts, reactions, and speech. Students should start with brief, declarative statements and phrases.
  3. Students take their initial characterization notes and revise into a creative caricature of the image or text.  The focus is on providing a well-rounded presentation of the person or character with concrete details for support.
  4. Students can present their caricatures to the class.  A discussion on descriptive writing choices can be used for closure.


Standard 3:  Writing and Composition

  1. Literary or narrative genres feature a variety of stylistic devices to engage or entertain an audience.
  2. Organizational writing patterns inform or persuade an audience.

Assessment:  Because this is usually a smaller exercise, I use our English Department’s AP quick write rubric to evaluate students’ writing.  

Adaptions/Accommodations:  While I expect all students to do their best in completing the assignment, I often will let students choose a specific method of characterization (physical appearance, for example) to focus on.