Hi everyone! Today, I wanted to share some teaching strategies for teaching story elements. These ideas are meant to pair with fiction read alouds. Although, I will offer some ideas for guided reading too. I also will include a freebie to help implement these ideas.
First, let’s go over the basic story elements that you would teach in a kindergarten or a first grade classroom. These elements are the characters, setting, and plot. The plot can be easily taught with a simple summary of the beginning, middle, and end or B-M-E. You may be familiar with the five finger retell that includes character, setting, and three details from the story or B-M-E. If not, now you are 😉 Now, let’s jump right in!
Strategy #1: Main Character vs. Other Characters
It is important that students are able to identify the main character in a story. One way to make this concept visual is by illustrating the main character as huge and the other characters as small. It’s a visual that will help young learners because they are very concrete with their thinking. Then when they are reading, they can try to picture who is the big character in the story. This will help them to understand the roles the characters play in a story.
Strategy #2: Character Feelings Sticky Map
This pairs well with a story where the character’s feelings change in the story. On a board or chart, divide up three significant events from a story. Ask students, “How do you think the character felt when _______ happened?” Have students draw up the character’s face on a sticky note and add it to that section. You would do this for each event in the story. You can then draw out the discussion more by asking why they think the character felt that way. Lead them to site clues from the book and to make inferences from their own experiences such as “I would be sad if my friend moved away.”
Strategy #3: Thought Bubbles
Have students pretend they are a character in a story. Ask the students, “What would you think if you were the character?” Have students either illustrate or write their thoughts on a thought bubble. For fun, you could take a picture of the student, cut it out, and place it on a bulletin board with the thought bubble.
Strategy #4: Make a Sticky Map
Section off areas for the characters, setting, and B-M-E on a board or chart with arrows between each section to connect them. Then lead students to draw up the characters. Place some of them on the chart (all if you have room). The other students can put the sticky on their shirt for fun. Lead students to discuss the characters as you create the sticky map. Do the same for the other story elements.
Strategy #5: Create a B-M-E Mural
Divide the class into teams B-M-E. Each team focuses on drawing up that part of the story with the characters, setting, and event taking place. If you have a rather large class, you might want to do more than one mural. Once done, have each team present their part of the story. If you want to organize it more, you can assign students each a roll for each team such as character illustrator, setting drafter, story teller, and so on.
Strategy #6: Puppet Retell
Yes, this is something that has been around for years, but I also think it is something that has been well forgotten in the last decade or just not used very often! Puppets are a fun way for students to retell the plot of a story, identify the characters, and recreate the setting. With this, have students make the character puppets. They can simply draw them up and attach to a popsicle stick. Then have students illustrate the setting. Students can work in pairs if you like with this project or even in a small group. Then let students retell away using the five finger retell strategy. (Note: I found these awesome popsicle sticks with a sticker that make it easy to have instant puppets. I bought the colorful ones locally in a craft section of a store near me. I could only find the plain ones on Amazon. You can find those here: Jumbo Craft Popsicle Sticks with Self-Adhesive TipsPlease note, this is an affiliate link that is of no additional cost to you and that pays me a very small commission that goes toward the monthly costs to host this blog.
Strategy #7: Graphic Organizers
Okay, totally very common, I get it. However, these are very important, so I had to include it. Plus, I include a graphic organizer in the free download for you, so if I included it there, I had to cover it here. 🙂 Now graphic organizers can vary. Some can just focus on the character. Some can just focus on B-M-E. Some can incorporate all of those. When you are first introducing story elements, it is good to just zoom in on the characters. Who is the main character? Who are the other characters? Then branch out to the setting. Where did the story take place? When did the story take place? After that, you can branch out to B-M-E and start to dig deeper into character traits.
Here is the free story elements resource. I hope you enjoy it! Just fill out this form to grab it. If you are already a subscriber, simply fill it out again to have it sent to your email too.