What would happen if you showed a silhouette of Charlie Chaplin to different generations? Just his outline. No name or labels. I bet older people will call out Chaplin’s name, but younger audiences will not recognize the figure.
It’s interesting to think of Chaplin’s silhouette as an endangered image. We are lucky that Author Gary Golio and illustrator Ed Young decided to bring the iconic figure back to life. Their story of Chaplin is told with a conversational voice and fitting collage. Each page shows silhouettes of the people and places in Chaplin’s life. The typeset is reminiscent of text found in silent films.
Readers will have fun creating a silent animation of their own by flipping through the pages. They’ll notice Chaplin’s figure in the bottom right-hand corner moves. Just like a silent movie!
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Create I.B.2 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes
Explore a lesson in visual literacy by watching a short film with Chaplin. The Mirror Maze will generate lots of questions. Pause at various points of the video to notice and wonder. Learners may wonder why the movie is in black and white. They may recognize how a story can be told without words. Write questions and observations on chart paper. Give learners an opportunity to find answers to their questions. They can express their learning by creating a silhouette that represents the topic of inquiry. Consider displaying the designs on a wall featuring the cover of Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry).
If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.