While there are many ways to learn about character traits, representing the information in a visual way makes it easier for your child to compare the traits of various characters. This activity helps kids think more profoundly about the characters in the story she's reading, which will ultimately help her to figure out deeper meaning of the story.
What You Need:
- A good book to curl up with
- Piece of paper
- Large sticky Notes
- Large piece of paper or poster board
- Crayons, colored pencils, or utencils of your child's choosing
What You Do:
- Begin a general discussion about character traits by asking your child to describe a person of her choosing. Have your child write the description down. Ask your child: How does she know these things about this person? If your child only points out visual descriptions, explain that she can also describe what the person does, what he thinks, what he says and (often more important!) how he says it.
- Look at the character traits she's written down and go over them with your child, identifying whether the traits were physical descriptions, actions, or memories of things her person said or did.
- Explain to your child that she can also learn things about the characters in the stories she reads by noticing physical descriptions of the characters, their actions, their conversations with other characters, and their personal thoughts. Have your child begin reading the story. Early on in the story have her pick one of the characters. While she reads, ask her to place a sticky note on every page that reveals something about the character. On the sticky note, ask your child to write down the character trait that is revealed on that page. By the end of the story, your child will have accumulated numerous words, thoughts, and actions with which to assemble a complete description of one of the characters in the story.
- Conclude the exercise with a fun art project: using what your child already knows about the character from her sticky notes, encourage her to think about what the character might do or say right after the book ends. Then, border a large piece of paper with the sticky notes, and inside draw a picture of that new scene using whatever utencils she wants.
Giovanna Queeto has taught a broad range of ages and subjects. She has taught art in a Montessori classroom, English as a foreign language in Canada and Italy, and was the Garden Educator in Oakland, CA public elementary schools. She plans to continue her career in the public school setting.