- Third Grade
- 75 minutes
- Standards: RL.3.3
Real people and characters in stories show who they are by their words and actions. Help students make the connection between a character trait and the words or actions that support it by using Character Cards.
Students will be able to describe a character's appearance and character traits as demonstrated by actions in the story.
Introduction (5 minutes)
Prior to beginning the lesson, look at the Character Traits reference sheet, and add images that correspond with each card. These visual representations will allow students to better understand what each trait means.
- Introduce Cinderella, or another chosen fairy tale, to your class. Tell your students that they will be describing one of the main characters in the story.
- Explain to your class that there are two parts to describing characters: their outward appearance, such as hair and eye color, and the aspects of their personality, such as behaviors and their attitudes. Tell your class that words that describe someone's personality or behavior are called character traits.
- Ask your class to come up with some examples of character traits. Refer to the Character Trait reference sheet if necessary.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (30 minutes)
- Read your story aloud to the class, stopping once the first main character has been introduced.
- Ask your students to think in their heads what that character is like on the outside, and then share their descriptions with a partner. For example, students may describe Cinderella as "pretty" if that's how they imagine her.
- Encourage your students to listen to what this character says and does in the story, to determine what kind of person she is on the inside. Model thinking aloud after the character says or does something illustrative. For example, Cinderella seems to be patient because she doesn't get angry with her stepsisters when they boss her around.
- Practice thinking aloud several more times during your reading, with more examples that illustrate the character's inner traits.
- After reading, take a blank sheet of paper and fold it in half to make a card. Tell students that they will be helping you describe one of the main characters in the story you just read. Write the character's name on the front of the card.
- Ask students to describe the character's appearance. As they call out descriptions, sketch the character's appearance on the front of the card.
- Open the card, and encourage your class to call out character traits that describe the main character. Remind your students that the character's actions and words illustrate who they are on the inside.
- Write the character trait on the left hand side of the card. Ask students how they know that this character trait describes the character. On the right hand side, draw or write what the character did or said that shows the character trait.
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (15 minutes)
- Ask students to list the other main characters in the story you just read. Give each student a blank piece of paper and have them fold it in half like you did. Ask each student to choose one of the other main characters and write his or her name on the front of their card. Examples from Cinderella could include her stepmother, stepsisters, or the prince.
- Group students by their chosen characters. Ask each person to think of how the character looks on the outside.
- Give them a few minutes to share this outside appearance with the other members of their group. Provide each group drawing materials so they can sketch the outside of their character on the front of the card.
- As each group is sketching, circulate among the groups and ask them to think of a character trait for their character.
- Each time a trait is suggested ask, "What makes you say that?" to elicit what the character said or did that supports the chosen trait.
- After talking with each group, have the group members open their cards and write an appropriate character trait on the left hand side. Ask them to draw or write what the character said or did in the story that demonstrates this character trait. Encourage group members to collaborate.
Independent Working Time (15 minutes)
- After students have completed one character card, ask them to use the same organizer for a main character in one of their independent reading books. Provide lists of character traits or the Character Trait reference to assist them.
- Enrichment: Have students choose two character traits demonstrated by a main character in a story. They can support one character trait on the inner right hand side of the character card and the second on the back of the character card.
- Support: Provide students with a choice of character traits and supporting words or actions. Have them match each trait to the words or actions that support it before creating their character card.
Assessment (5 minutes)
- Review the character cards to see if students chose an inner character trait, not a descriptor for the character's appearance.
- Also, ensure that your students selected examples of the character's words or actions that support the chosen trait.
Review and Closing (5 minutes)
- Have the class come together to share a few character traits and supporting words or actions.