Come one, come all! In this lesson, reading and writing are intertwined as students determine a character's traits from the character's actions. Reading extends into creative writing as students imagine what a character might do next.
Students will determine specific character traits through characters' behaviors and actions. Students will brainstorm future actions of a character based on developed character traits. Students will complete a creative writing narrative using a character's specific traits.
Introduction (5 minutes)
- Tell your students that a character trait is a quality of a character, which could include a variety of descriptive words. Ask your students to list some character traits. Possible answers include: shy, jolly, creative, etc.
- Play the game “Character Trait Charades.” To play the game, invite a volunteer to pull a Character Trait card from a bag. Without showing the other students, have the student demonstrate an action that could reveal that trait. For example, a character who is worried might pace back and forth with a furrowed brow and a concerned facial expression.
- Invite other students to take turns choosing a card, and have them show an action that represents that particular trait. Ask your class to guess the trait that the student is demonstrating.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)
- Read Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest or something similar aloud to the class.
- Ask students how the main character's actions help show that she is a messy character. For example, Sophie left all of her belongings on the floor, showing that she is messy.
- Conduct a think-aloud, thinking aloud and telling the class about all of the actions that prove that Sophie is a messy character.
- Use the Character Trait Wheel worksheet to model the process of recording the character’s actions and then determining specific character traits. Complete half of the wheel using the character trait messy. See the sample for reference.
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (5 minutes)
- Invite your students to come up with other traits that could be used to describe the main character.
- Using the Character Trait cards, select the trait careless. Based on the specific character trait, brainstorm actions that the character would display. For example, the word careless could describe Sophie because she doesn't pay attention to what she is doing. She might trip over her belongings because she is not paying attention.
- Finish the remainder of the Character Wheel on the board, inviting students to add their ideas to it.
Independent Working Time (20 minutes)
- Ask your students to complete their own individual Character Trait Wheel. Using a book that they have recently read, have them each identify one character's actions and connect these actions to one or more character traits. Have them write down the characters' actions and traits on their Wheels.
- After the students have completed their Character Wheels, tell them that you would like them to write extensions or new scenes of the book they read. As needed, model the process of focusing on a particular trait and imagining what the character might do next. For example, since Sophie is messy, she might get spaghetti sauce all over her face when she is eating spaghetti.
- By the end of independent work time, make sure students have written at least one paragraph.
- Enrichment: Pair students and have them take turns telling about the character that they wrote about. Have the partner guess what character trait the student used. Advanced students can also use the Character Comparison worksheet to compare three different characters from a book that they have read.
- Support: Use one of the Describe a Character worksheets to guide students in identifying character actions and tracing specific character traits. Utilize the questions on the right side of the worksheet to prompt thinking. Provide sentence frames or scenarios for students who have difficulty brainstorming an extension of a story and what a character might do in a story.
- As an extra activity, have students work in groups of two or three to create a paper slide video using one or more characters. In the video, have them represent something the character might do, based on a specific character trait.
Related Books and/or Media
Assessment (10 minutes)
- Ask each student to complete the Character Trading Card worksheet based on the traits discovered from the character’s actions.
- Conference with students individually, and ask them to justify their reasoning for the character traits they chose.
Review and Closing (5 minutes)
- Invite two students to share what they identified as a character’s actions and traits.
- Ask these students to imagine how these characters would respond if they were in different books and different situations. For example, if a character’s trait is bossy, that character might constantly tell Sophie to stop making a mess.
- Invite your students to swap characters and consider how a character might respond in different settings. Ask your students to turn and talk to a partner about their individual characters and imagine how the characters would act in the partner’s book.