Do you teach story elements at the beginning of the year? Review at mid-year? Teach them bit by bit throughout a semester? However you teach story elements, they’re sure to take up a good chunk of your Language Arts teaching time! So it makes senses to get as much bang for the buck as possible out of your story elements instruction each year.
One way to do this is by using each element to teach both the reading skill and a writing skill together. Doing it this way, each skill reinforces the other. Kids get both a really good understanding of the story element and some great writing practice.
Here is an idea for teaching the reading and writing skills together for two of the elements – characterization and setting.
Students work with character traits to understand the story element and to write about a character. By the way, if you are looking for a list of character traits, I found a good one in a character trait lesson at Read Write Think.
- To set up, post character trait words on cards around the room – words like adventurous, trustworthy, obnoxious, any adjectives that could describe a character.
- To make sure kids are all on the same page, begin with a little discussion of the meaning of character traits. Have kids name traits that apply to characters in favorite stories or films.
- Now, students are to choose traits and use them to create a character. To stir up a little interest, draw students names to choose their first trait. Each student should take their chosen card off the wall so no one else chooses the same one.
- After each student has one, all students choose two more (or just one more, depending on the number of cards. You could also make two cards with some of the words to have enough cards available.)
- Next, students imagine a character with the traits they have selected, and draw the character.
- Finally, students write a descriptive paragraph about their character– appearance, personality, likes and dislikes, etc., using their imagination to add interesting details.
- As a follow-up students could write a story featuring their character, beginning by inventing a problem and solution that would suit the character.
To do this same activity with the story element of setting, just substitute places and times for character traits. List places – well known ones, ones they have learned about in history class, nearby locations, and even places in the school – on some of the cards. On the other cards, list times – historical periods, decades, seasons, times of day. Begin by discussing the time and place of favorite novels, non-fiction books, films, or TV shows. Continue as with the characterization activity.
With these easy-to-use activities, kids will have fun being creative as they create their own story parts.