When it comes to drawing figures, fifth graders usually want to know HOW to make them. They want people to "look real". One way to approach this is through teaching proportion- helping students to recognize the size of one part of the body compared to another.
To help visualize and get a hands-on sense of proportion, each student cut out and assembled an oaktag puppet. We then looked at stop-motion photography including Eadweard Muybridge's photos. Students thought of an action, and then positioned their figures to express three different motions within the action. Getting out of their seats and moving their real bodies to see and feel how figures move was encouraged!
Students chose analogous, warm or cool colors for the figures, and complimentary colors for the background. Expressive oil pastel lines behind the figures added to the feeling of movement.Here's the positionable figure we used. (It's been in my files for quite a while- I don't remember it's source) I found a similar template here that we might use next time because less fasteners are required- no need for the ankle or wrist bends.