Superheroes are a big thing today. Our students love to watch the latest Marvel or DC comic blockbuster and there seems to be no end to the number of comic book characters out there, each with an origin story. And don’t get me started on the supervillains – each one is evil in their own way, and many could have easily become heroes if things had just gone a little differently.
Heroes are a great subject to discuss in our classrooms, because they lend themselves to so many basic and useful vocabulary words and language structures and they tend to be high-interest topics for our students. No matter what level you teach, there is a way to incorporate superheroes into your lesson plans in a way that will be useful and enjoyable for your students. Here are some ideas for different lesson plans you might find helpful.
Practicing verb tenses
This is one of the simpler things you can do – tell a story about a hero. If you are working with first year, stick with the present. In second year and later, start adding the passe compose and the imparfait. You can either retell a story of already-existing superheroes, or come up with one of your own. You can come up with silly powers first and then have your students determine a story, or you can use a random word as the superhero name and then make students come up with the powers and how they got them.
For example, you could use a random word picker to choose a noun – or an adjective and a noun – and then give those to the students. What kind of backstory would a hero named “the green peanut” have? What powers? What would they do with them?
Practicing adjectives to describe superheroes
Have your students make posters for a hero with a brief description – what does the hero look like? What are his/her traits? What does he/she wear? You could make a sort of “FBI’s most wanted” collection of descriptions. If you give your students the names for different clothing items and tools, they will be able to use both feminine and masculine forms of adjectives. You can use a free design service like Canva to make the posters if you like, or go old-school and have students draw them with pen and pencil.
If you have a video in mind – either a short video clip or scene from a movie – you can describe what is happening, stopping and asking questions to get details. This focuses more on listening skills and the students will likely enjoy watching the scene. There are plenty of good short videos available on YouTube, and superheroes are a common topic. Something 2-4 minutes long is a good length.
Once you’ve chosen the video, you’ll want to determine what the target focuses vocabulary or phrases will be and how you will tell the story at a level appropriate for your students. If you’re not sure how to start, here’s a lesson plan I’ve made for Laundry Quandary, a superhero story with a twist.
Superheroes and supervillains project
You can put it all together by doing a superheroes project. Either individually or in small groups, your students can come up with a hero, the powers, the origins story, and a costume. Of course, not all students will want to be a hero – and what is a hero without a villain? You can have some of your students come up with a supervillain, with the same type of information but with an evil twist.
Once you have your heroes and your villains fleshed out, you can start having discussions about faceoffs with different pairings of hero and villain. If you want to save time, I have a superhero writing unit that puts everything in one place for you.