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Teaching with Jennifer Findley
Upper Elementary Teaching Blog
January 27, 2019 | 3 Comments | Filed Under: Guided Reading , Reading , Reading Centers
Character Traits Activities
Character traits are one of my favorite reading skills. I love digging in deep and analyzing characters. I also truly believe that learning about different characters, their traits, and what makes them exhibit those traits help students gain perspective and empathy. This post will share some of the ways that I introduce, teach, and/or review character traits with 4th and 5th graders, including free character traits activities (the activities are also applicable to 3rd grade students).
Here are some of my best tips and strategies for teaching character traits in a way that both resonates with students and really gets them thinking about characters in deeper ways.
1. Introducing and Reviewing Character Traits
When first introducing character traits (or reviewing them with 4th and 5th graders), I like to have a chart with different traits listed, categorized by negative and positive traits. This both introduces the students to what character traits are, and also builds their vocabulary by introducing them to new words. When we start the chart, I have a few traits already listed and then we add to it as we read about more characters.
2. Identify Character Traits During Read Alouds, Guided Reading, and Independent Reading
During the week of and the weeks after reviewing character traits, we track the character traits exhibited by the characters in the stories we read. We do this with read alouds, guided reading, and my students’ independent reading books.
- Click here if you want to see my favorite read alouds for teaching story elements.
3. Integrate into Writing
One of the best ways to see if your students understand a reading skill is to see if they can apply that reading skill in an original writing piece. Character traits is a great skill for this because the students enjoy writing characters that demonstrate different character traits. Stay tuned till the end of this post because I have a free character trait activity to help you implement this.
4. Explicitly Teach the Ways Character Traits Can be Demonstrated
Another way to take character traits a step further is to teach the students to identify and describe the different ways the character demonstrated that character trait. Here are the ways I teach my students:
- Internal Thoughts
These ways then turn into the different types of textual evidence that the student can provide to support the character trait they chose for a character.
5. Track the Character Traits of One Character
A favorite (and higher-level, so perfect for 5th graders) character trait activity is to track the character traits demonstrated by the same character throughout the course of a story or read aloud.
To do this, have the students draw a line to represent a time-line and then record the character trait exhibited and whatever details you wish to include. Details could be:
- Textual evidence to support the character trait (dialogue, actions, thoughts)
- The reason for the character trait – in other words, what happened to cause that trait to come to the surface
6. Analyze How the Same Character Traits are Demonstrated Across Different Stories
Another way to take this reading skill deeper for 4th and 5th grade students is to have them analyze how the same character trait is demonstrated across different stories. My go-to resource for having my students do this is my Character Traits Sorts resource . To complete the activity, the students read 16 short stories and then sort the stories by determining which of the five given character traits are best exhibited by the main character. This activity really helps the students analyze how character traits can be demonstrated in different ways.
- Click here to see this Character Traits Sort in my TpT store.
7. Use Short Texts to Analyze a Variety of Character Traits
In 4th and 5th grade, we read a lot of longer books and passages, however I also think variety and amount of practice is important when practicing any reading skill. So, I use a variety of text lengths with any reading skill I teach. By using long texts, I am building stamina and teaching the rigor needed for 4th and 5th graders. However, by using short texts I am able to expose my students to the skill multiple times and with multiple texts. I love using my reading puzzles for this purpose. You can see the Character Traits Reading Puzzles in my TPT store here . They include 20 short stories for the students to match to different character traits. They are both engaging and perfect for exposing students to multiple types of traits and giving them plenty of opportunities to practice identifying character traits.
Free Character Traits Activities
Here are some free activities to help you integrate the tips and strategies shared on this post.
Character Traits Sort: Positive or Negative
This activity is super helpful to introduce students to a variety of character traits and to help build their vocabulary by having them categorize the traits as positive or negative. The traits in this freebie can also be the basis for an anchor chart like the one I described earlier.
Want an easy way to integrate character traits into writing? Have the students choose a character trait card and then write a story featuring a character who demonstrates that trait.
As mentioned above, we love tracking character traits. Use this free printable or this printable booklet to easily implement this. You could use the printable to track from read alouds and the printable booklet for the students to track from independent reading.
Click here or on the image below to download the free character trait activities.
Need More Story Elements Resources?
Mentor Texts for Teaching Story Elements – Click here to see my favorite read alouds for teaching and reviewing different story elements.
Teaching Story Elements TpT Resource – My go-to resource for teaching story elements is definitely this resource. It includes posters, graphic organizers, passages, task cards, and more. Click here to see the Teaching Story Elements resource.
Story Element Reading Games – My students love anytime I gamify reading instruction and they definitely enjoy these story element reading games. Click here to see the Story Element Reading Games on TpT.
Story Element Reading Spinner Centers – Reading spinners are another favorite of my students. Click here to see Story Element Reading Spinners on TPT.
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July 14, 2019 at 9:56 am
In step 1, you mention a chart of positive and negative trait words to use as a resource that you add to. Do you have a copy of this chart or list to share? Thank you!!
July 14, 2019 at 12:31 pm
Hi Vicki, I replicate this one: https://www.crafting-connections.com/2014/08/anchors-away-monday-81814-character.html
July 24, 2020 at 4:43 pm
I love all of your reading activities for all of the topics we do in my 5th grade classroom. I’m wondering if your bundle includes all of these individuals activities?
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Welcome friends! I’m Jennifer Findley: a teacher, mother, and avid reader. I believe that with the right resources, mindset, and strategies, all students can achieve at high levels and learn to love learning. My goal is to provide resources and strategies to inspire you and help make this belief a reality for your students. Learn more about me.
How to Teach Character Analysis + Free Character Traits List Printable
Having the ability to analyze the character traits of characters in a short story or novel is crucial in grasping the underlying message of the author. Simple texts typically explicitly state these traits, labeling a main character as kind or brave, in order to assist the reader.
Yet, as students tackle more complex texts, they must delve deeper into the characters and their traits. The skill of accurately depicting characters is a fundamental skill that students must conquer before they can examine how a character's personality is shaped by the storyline and their interactions with others.
Establishing a strong understanding of positive and negative character traits is essential for success with later skills like analyzing character change .
In this post, I aim to provide some resources about the definition, share examples of character traits, and how you can help readers use text evidence to analyze individuals in literature. Additionally, I will provide some helpful printable materials to assist in conducting these lessons in your classroom.
What you'll find on this page:
Why teach character analysis?
Character analysis, or identifying character and personality traits, is an approachable way to get students used to the rigorous expectations for deep thinking about literature. Students must use text clues to make inferences, and they must also be able to support their answers with details from the plot.
Character discussions can be great for building vocabulary and helping students build a bank of interesting adjectives they can use as they begin writing their own stories.
You'll find you can spiral character analysis skill practice throughout the year and can progressively raise your expectations as students become more proficient.
Getting started teaching character traits
Identifying traits is an important foundational skill. Whether this is your first year teaching reading or you're looking for some new ideas to incorporate into your classroom, my hope is you'll find some ideas and ready-to-use resources you can add to your lesson plans for this skill.
Before we dive into the lesson plan, here's some background information on how this skill fits into the larger picture of teaching reading.
What are character traits?
Character traits are the unique qualities and characteristics used to describe characters – including the individual's personality and behavior. These traits can be either positive or negative, but in this context, we will focus on positive character traits. When we describe a character, whether it is a protagonist in a novel or a friend in real life, we often look at their attitude and the qualities they possess.
For example, a courageous and adventurous character may be willing to take risks and face challenges head-on. On the other hand, a compassionate character may show empathy and kindness towards others.
These traits help shape a fictional character's development throughout a story and make them relatable to the audience.
What standards address character analysis?
This skill is introduced in very different grade levels depending on what standards you use. This is a second-grade language arts standard in Texas, and students are expected to apply this skill to analyze character relationships by third grade. The Common Core standards introduce character analysis in third grade and expand upon it through the remaining elementary years.
Here are the Texas standards (TEKS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS to aid with lesson plan documentation:
- TEKS 2.8B Describe the main character's internal & external traits
- CCSS RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
- CCSS RL.4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text.
What pre-requisite skills do my students need to have before I begin?
Unlike many higher-level reading comprehension skills, at the basic level identifying these doesn't require a ton of prerequisite lessons. Once students can recall the main elements of fiction and tell about the main character, they're ready to begin identifying character traits. In other words, the foundations of comprehension must be solid.
That being said, upper elementary and middle school students will be asked to infer character traits through dialogue and action so the skill itself has multiple layers that progress as students continue through school.
If you're worried about students' reading levels or you have a very diverse group of learners, the lesson below outlines a great way to begin teaching this skill because it doesn't even require students to use text for the initial lessons.
What books are good for introducing & modeling how to identify character traits?
There are so many great books to use with lessons on character analysis. While we tend to look at picture books as mentor texts, biographies are a great option for this skill. The story just needs a strong main character and/or supporting characters that your students can make inferences about.
Here are my 10 favorite books for teaching students to identify character traits:
- Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
- The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill
- Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
- The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
- The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach
- A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
- The Good Egg by Jory John
- Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes
- Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman
Before Reading: Introducing Character Traits
Character traits can be hard for younger learners to grasp. While many things are spelled out for them in early readers, character analysis requires students to make inferences based on clues in the text.
When introducing the skill, it is important to begin by helping students define the term. Examples and non-examples can be a powerful strategy for building understanding.
Students must be able to differentiate between what a character looks like – their appearance – and their internal character. You'll also need to differentiate between emotions and character traits.
One great way to do this is by modeling these differences using yourself or a student in your class. Have students take turns giving examples of physical attributes first. Then transition to discussing the traits of that person. When you finish, compare the two lists to help students internalize the differences between the two.
Here's a great example of an anchor chart for your class as you begin this foundational work.
See more great examples of great character traits anchor charts.
Once you've done this as a group, you can even have students break off into groups. They can complete an example using themselves or another classmate.
The great thing about doing this first is that it doesn't require text. Your struggling readers get the chance to understand the skill without using all their mental energy on decoding.
You may also consider creating a list of traits as a class. Alternatively, you may share and discuss this free character traits list pdf download . This can help students build vocabulary.
If you feel your students might need additional practice before they identify these traits in text, you can work backward by assigning each student a trait and having them write about how someone with that trait might think, act, or speak to others. This can help students tune into what clues the text might provide.
Transitioning to Text: Guided Practice
Once your students have a solid grasp of what character traits are, you're likely ready to transition them toward identifying the traits of characters in a short text.
At this point, I like to pick a picture book to use as a mentor text. My favorite for upper elementary is A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. A great alternative for younger students or those with shorter attention spans is No, David! from the same author.
As you read, have students pay attention to the main character's thoughts, words, actions, and feelings. Stop to discuss what traits they can infer along the way.
After reading, use the free flipbooks to help your students document the traits they observed. Under each flap, they should provide evidence from the text supporting their identified trait.
Depending on the text you select, this can also be a great spot to begin the discussion of positive vs. negative traits. You can even use the cut & paste activity included to help your students sort traits into three categories – positive, negative, and neutral.
Grab the free resources here.
Independent Practice Options
Once students seem to have a solid grasp on this skill, there are many different ways you can incorporate this into independent practice.
One great option is encouraging students to discuss these traits during their literature circles or guided reading. I've included a free graphic organizer that students can use to organize their thoughts and record text evidence for their book.
Here are a few ways you can offer some fun additional practice:
- Use free online games to practice the skill & keep students engaged
- Use task cards to have students practice identifying traits
- Have students create a Wordle for a character in a book they've read
Grab the free resources for teaching character traits
Now that you've read about how you can get students to think deeply about characters and their traits, I'm sure you're ready to tackle this in your classroom.
That's why I created a set of free resources for teaching this skill. In this free pack, you'll find:
- Character traits list for reading journals
- Graphic organizers – internal vs. external, text evidence, comparing characters
- Comparing characters graphic organizer
- Character trait writing task – differentiated options available
- Trait sort – positive, negative, and neutral traits
Teaching in the Heart of Florida
How to Teach Character Traits in 4th Grade Reading
Character traits are one of my favorite skills to teach in reading. The reader in me must love learning about characters – their thoughts, actions, and words. Teaching character traits in 4th grade is the best! 4th-grade students can begin to think deeply about characters and themselves, so their connections are authentic and helpful.
Grab This FREE Reading Resource!
Teaching character traits in 4th grade builds on what students learned in 3rd grade, focusing on how actions, words, and thoughts affect the plot.
In 4th grade, it’s more about analyzing the character in detail. Going a little deeper into what they are thinking, doing, why, and what they say.
How to Teach Character Traits in 4th Grade
When introducing a new standard, I use the I DO, WE DO, YOU DO sequence of instruction – and I always begin with an anchor chart.
In the case of this skill – there are two that I use:
- The first time I teach the standard, constructing these two anchor charts is the lesson.
- We construct the anchor charts together. I use a picture book (A Bad Case of Stripes is a great one!) to model how to make a statement about a character – referring back to the anchor charts as needed. (I DO)
- The next day – I invite them to participate in the process with me.
- Using a picture book or one chapter of a longer text, I invite them to jot down the character’s thoughts, actions, and words as I read. (WE DO)
- We create an anchor chart for that specific character, and students use post-its to add their notes to the chart. Together we discuss the traits and write a statement about the character using the steps from How to Interpret Details From the Text Anchor Chart.
Student Practice with Character Traits
When students are ready, I want them to read a text closely, take notes about the character, and create their anchor chart. Giving them guiding questions (like those below) helps with this! (YOU DO)
After they have read the text one time, I also want them to map out the story plot. This helps them analyze the character even more deeply.
Responding to Text-Dependent Questions About Character Traits
Before students respond to text-dependent questions, I want them to reread the text a 2nd time. Their comprehension of the text will deepen on the 2nd reading. Their ability to respond to the questions will also increase.
They can add details to their anchor charts and story plot map at this time.
Making a Statement about the Character
Finally, I want students to use their collected information to make a statement about the character within the story plot.
Using this sentence frame to summarize the text is very helpful, especially at the beginning of their practice.
What Makes this Lesson So Effective?
I think supporting students as they learn new skills is essential to the mastery of standards.
In this lesson, I provide a character traits anchor chart, steps for interpreting details about characters, guiding questions, good text-dependent questions, and a sentence frame for summarizing a statement about the character.
What Happens Now?
After you teach this lesson, you will be so proud of how much they have learned about analyzing character traits as a 4th grader!
Grab this Character Traits Close Reading Packet for 4th Grade ! It includes all of the resources shown in this post and a printable and digital version, so you have options for your classroom!
Having this resource will SAVE you hours of lesson planning!
Make sure you grab this FREE Citing Text Evidence Resource before you leave!
If you are a new teacher OR just want fresh ideas for close reading – check out these posts!
- Teach Students How to Cite Text Evidence with Sentence Starters
- 3 Essential Elements You Need When Teaching Your Students How to Respond to Text Dependent Questions
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives. Robert John Meehan
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Low Prep Activities to Make Teaching Character Traits Easier
Teaching character traits to upper elementary students can be a complex task. It's more than just reading a fictional story and labeling characters with certain traits. Students must analyze how characters change over time, compare different characters and their traits, use evidence from the text to identify certain character traits, build their character trait vocabulary, and more.
The resources below offer a variety of different activities to help you when teaching character traits to upper elementary students. Use them to differentiate your character trait instruction, plan engaging lessons, and save time.
Ideas for introducing character traits to your 3rd or 4th grade students. Includes a free character traits mobile printable / pdf.
6 low prep ways to help you build your students' character trait vocabulary. Includes a fun twist on "Would You Rather Questions."
3 free character traits lists - Includes a list of positive character traits, negative character traits, and synonyms for more common character traits.
Use these 36 questions to help plan your character trait lessons while making sure you are promoting higher level thinking skills with your upper elementary students!
No prep ideas on ways to integrate writing into your lesson plans while teaching character traits. All your 3rd or 4th grade students will need is a pencil and paper!
3 free character trait graphic organizers. Includes a graphic organizer that compares 2 characters, a graphic organizer that requires evidence from the text, and more.
Ideas for incorporating a character traits word wall into your classroom third or fourth grade classroom. Great for building character trait vocabulary. Includes a free template.
Help your students practice character traits in an engaging way. These character trait centers / games are fun for 3rd and 4th grade students.
A free character traits slideshow to use with your class - includes character trait vocabulary building activities!
Trying to figure out what would make the best student reference for your character trait unit? Check out these 8 different character trait anchor chart ideas.
The character trait links above provide free ideas, activities, and printables you can use when teaching character traits to your elementary students. The activities included will work best for 3rd grade and 4th grade, although many of the activities could be adapted to reach younger (2nd grade) or older (5th grade) students.
The activities above address the following Common Core Standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).
Teaching Character Traits? You Need This Freebie!
K-12 Resources By Teachers, For Teachers Provided by the K-12 Teachers Alliance
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This is the first lesson in a fourth-grade novel study on James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. This unit could continue over several days until the novel is completed.
- ( ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1 ) Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
- ( ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.2 ) Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
- ( ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3 ) Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
For the full lesson plan, download the PDF.
Download Full Lesson Plan: Character Analysis
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Inferring How and Why Characters Change
- Resources & Preparation
- Instructional Plan
- Related Resources
"There is not much point in writing a novel unless you can show the possibility of moral transformation, or an increase in wisdom, operating in your chief character or characters." —Anthony Burgess Because so many stories contain lessons that the main character learns and grows from, it is important for students to not only recognize these transformations but also understand how the story's events affected the characters. This lesson uses a think-aloud procedure to model how to infer character traits and recognize a character's growth across a text. Students also consider the underlying reasons of why the character changed, supporting their ideas and inferences with evidence from the text.
Story Map : Using the Character Organizer in the Story Map tool, students can get to the heart of the characters from their stories and determine the how's and why's of characters' characteristics.
From Theory to Practice
- Understanding characters-their desires, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs-may lie at the very heart of literary meaning making (Emery, 1996).
- When teachers and students take time to read and discuss characters, children understand and craft increasingly rich characters of their own.
- Roser and Martinez explain that characters not only help readers move into and through a text, but they also affect what those readers come away with as well.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Short stories, such as the following:
"A Bad Road for Cats" and "Stray" by Cynthia Rylant from Every Living Thing (Aladdin, 1988) "Maybe a Fight" and "Mr. Entwhistle" by Jean Little from Hey World, Here I Am! (HarperTrophy, 1990) "Mama Sewing" by Eloise Greenfield from Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir (HarperCollins, 1993) Stevie by John Steptoe (HarperTrophy, 1986)
- Chart paper, overhead, and markers/overhead pens
- Overhead transparencies of stories for modeling (optional)
- How and Why Characters Change Graphic Organizer
- How and Why Characters Change Rubric
This lesson is based on the assumption that students have done some prior work on inferring character traits.
- Infer character traits
- Support inferences with evidence from the text
- Infer how a character changes across a text
- Explain why that character may have changed
Session 1. Who is This Character, Anyway?
Session 2. how this character has changed, session 3. why did the character change.
- Students can study other characters in their books, in addition to the main character and complete the graphic organizers.
- Students can use the Character Trading Cards tool to create trading cards for characters they are studying. They might exchange these with each other to learn about each other's characters or use them as writing prompts. For example, they can take one character and write about how he or she changed across a story and why.
- Students can study how characters change across a series of texts. Possible series include the Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary, the "Fudge" books by Judy Blume, the Dimwood Forest series by Avi, or J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
- Students can use similar charts and graphic organizers to develop dynamic characters for their own narrative stories.
- Students can think about how and why they have changed in certain circumstances and connect this to the reading they are doing in class.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Describe what the main character was like at the beginning of the story.
- Describe what the main character was like at the end of the story.
- How did the main character change?
- Why do you think he or she changed in that way?
- How has understanding character change helped you to become a better reader?
- Assess graphic organizers and character maps using the How and Why Characters Change Rubric .
- Review observations and conference notes taken during these sessions.
- Lesson Plans
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- Student Interactives
Students come together with family and friends to take part in a read-in of books by African American authors and report their results.
The Story Map interactive is designed to assist students in prewriting and postreading activities by focusing on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution.
- Print this resource
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Character Traits: A Lesson for Upper Elementary Students
Part 1: Anchor Chart
Part 2: Sorting Activity
Part 3: Interactive Notebook
How to Teach Character Development
Analyzing characters is a key reading literature skill that will help your students develop a love for literature. When we learn to analyze characters, we are learning to understand others’ experiences and to relate better to the characters we read about. Here are some tips for how to teach your students about character analysis and character development.
Learn to Identify Character Traits
This is a tricky concept for many students. Often, students want to identify very basic traits. But, if we teach students to dive deep into studying characters, they will be able to better analyze in-depth traits. The most effective way to do this is by studying what the character says, does, thinks, and feels. Then, use these clues to determine character traits. I recommend using a chart like the one below.
Analyze Character Change
Once students are able to identify character traits, they are able to look at how a character grows and develops throughout a story. To do this, I recommend having students chart the major events in the plot, along with how the character responds to those major events. We can use the character’s response to determine more about the character and how they are evolving throughout the story.
After we look at how the character has developed throughout the plot, we can determine if the character learned a lesson that helped them evolve. This isn’t as straightforward and is open to critical thinking and interpretation.
I recommend spending at least two full weeks focusing on this skill. Here is the recommended lesson layout and schedule for teaching plot structure:
Teaching Character Development: Week 1
Week one is focused on using genuine mentor texts and picture books. Students will learn about identifying character traits and analyzing how a character changes over the course of a story based on events. Students will learn to identify these elements in engaging and relatable picture books. Students will also focus on practicing this key skill in their independent reading. Applying these skills to students’ independent reading should be a large focus of not only this unit, but also in weeks to come. Here is the typical layout of what this week could look like. Lessons may vary depending on the grade.
Week 1 – Day 1
Introduce key vocabulary surrounding this skill. Vocabulary should include plot, characters, character traits, character change. On day one, walk students through the process of how to identify character traits to describe characters. If you are using my digital mini-lessons, this is also the time to watch the video introducing this skill. On day 1, review a simple mentor text such as a common fairytale. Practice identifying character traits of the main character. Students should use what the main character says, does, thinks, and feels to help them identify traits.
Week 1: Days 2-4
Review the anchor charts. Read aloud a new mentor text each day. Using a graphic organizer, identify what the character says, does, thinks, and feels to determine character traits.
Week 1: Day 5
Display the anchor chart with key words and vocabulary blocked out. Have students help you fill in the blanks. Students use a graphic organizer to identify character traits in their own independent reading book. At the end of reading, invite a few students to share their book and review the plot.
Week 1 Resources:
My Digital Mini-Lessons are available in a year-long bundle, where you get an entire year of reading mini-lessons that cover all grade level reading comprehension standards.
Teaching Character Development: Week 2
Week two is focused on using leveled passages to analyze characters. Throughout the week, you will be teaching your students to use text evidence to support their answers. You will also be scaffolding the assignments, increasing text difficulty, with the goal of helping students read passages throughout the entire grade level band. During this week, the focus will also be on answering plot structure questions that align with standards and state assessments.
Week 2: Day 1
Introduce Character Development anchor chart. Read aloud the Mentor Text Pippi Longstocking . Model analyzing Pippi at the beginning of the story using the graphic organizer and questions. Emphasize that this is only analyzing her at the beginning of the story. When we read stories, it is important to analyze the character throughout the story. This helps us determine how the character develops.
Week 2: Day 2
Select a story in the mid-range of the text complexity band. Make the story and question set poster size or project the text and questions. Read the story as a class, and then work together to answer the questions.
Week 2: Day 3
Students complete a passage and question set in partners. I recommend choosing a text in the mid-range of the text complexity band. Always review work as a class or in groups.
Week 2: Day s 4-5
Students complete a passage at the low range of the text complexity band independently. Be sure to review student work. If students did not get answers correct, ensure you make time to review with students independently or in small groups.
Continue to assign increasingly more complex passages. Continue to assess and review work.
Week 2: Day 5
By the end of the unit, most of your class should be showing mastery of the passages. This is the time to give the assessment. I recommend giving both assessment passages together, but you can also separate the passages and use the different levels to differentiate.
*Follow your students’ lead. These lessons may take more or less time. Do not move on to subsequent lessons until your students are showing progress.
Resources for Week 2:
Visuals are key! Use graphic organizers and charts to track character traits throughout the story. This provides structure and a visual for students who struggle with organizing this information and answering open-ended questions.
Growth By Grade
Strategies for Reinforcing Character Development by Grade:
Kindergarten: Use illustrations and words to track what a character says, does, thinks, and feels.
1 st Grade: Map out the things that characters do, or their actions, in the beginning, middle, and end. Use pictures and words to support thinking.
2 nd Grade: Use a graphic organizer to identify what the character does, says, thinks, and feels at the beginning, middle, and end. Discuss what these actions tell us how the character changes.
3 rd Grade: Use a graphic organizer to map how the character evolves throughout the story. Identify character traits that describe the character at the beginning, middle, and end. Discuss how the plot events impact the character. Write a response analyzing how the character evolves, or changes, during the story.
4 th Grade: Write in-depth about the protagonist and antagonist. Use specific details from the text to support analysis, including the evolution of two or more characters.
5 th Grade: Write in-depth responses comparing and contrasting two characters. Quote specific text details to support thinking.
More How to Teach Character Development Resources:
These tips will help teach your students about character analysis and character development. For more support on character development, check out these resources that can be used in small groups and centers:
2nd & 3rd Grade
4th & 5th Grade
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There is a difference between actions, motives, and the appearance of a character in a narrative text. Fourth graders explore character analysis through the dramatic arts. They create a series of movements, tableaus, and pantomimes to show the character Chibi's action, appearance, and motivation in the story Crow Boy . They get to become the character in order to fully analyze and understand the character, awesome.
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