Personification in Writing with the Citizen Science Game

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan which can be adapted for students in grades 5-12, students use a free online science and English Language Arts (ELA) game to explore personification in writing.

Students will:

  1. Students will understand the idea of “personification" through online game play and in-class activities.
  2. Students will demonstrate their ability to use personification via three examples in their work.
  3. Students will reflect upon their shared experiences.

Materials:

  • computers with internet access
  • paper
  • pencils

Preparation:

This lesson plan has been adapted from the resources provided by the Game Learning Society (GLS) and uses a free online GLS game.

Personification is the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form. Within the Citizen Science game, Zib, a muskrat, is portrayed as having human tendencies as he talks to, aids, and ultimately plots against the human character that students control. Students will experiment with implementing the personification technique in the literary sense by portraying other elements of nature (animals, plants, natural landmarks, or features of weather) as demonstrating human characteristics.

To prepare for this lesson, preview the game and plan how it can best meet the needs of your students. Students will need around 90 minutes to complete the entire game, although 15 minutes of game play time is sufficient in order to proceed with this lesson. You may want to teach the lesson from the Persuasive Arguments About Water Ecology Lesson Plan: Citizen Science Game to expose students to the game's ecology concepts in more depth.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. If you have not already done so within the context of another lesson, provide time for students to explore the Citizen Science game, either for homework or in class.
  2. Talk about the natural elements students encountered during game play. Ask students to brainstorm a list of natural elements in their local community.
  3. You may want to take a nature walk in the blocks surrounding your school. Have students record what they’ve seen, and compile a class list upon returning to the classroom. Schools located within urban areas can complete this assignment using non­-natural objects as well if a nature walk is not feasible.
  4. Discuss the personification students observed during the game. Discuss how Zib the muskrat is portrayed as having human tendencies as he talks to, aids, and ultimately plots against the human character that students control.
  5. Invite students to write a story that includes at least three examples of personification (example: “the wind whispered to us as we walked”). This can either be a piece of creative writing fiction or a description of the class’s walk that happens to include personification.
  6. Allow students to share their stories with the class to encourage pride in composition. You may want to consider binding all of the stories into a class book.