Lesson plan

Crafting a Character

Your students will use a well-loved story to learn how to create their own detailed characters. This lesson focuses on understanding the pre-writing and planning phase of storytelling.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to use pre-writing and planning to create a fictional character.

(5 minutes)
  • Invite your students to join you on rug or in usual read-aloud location in your classroom.
  • Hold up a familiar read aloud book such as Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne and ask your students who the story is about. Answers might include: Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo.
  • Choose one of the above characters (Winnie the Pooh, for example) and ask, “What do we know about his/her life?” Answers might include: "Loves honey," "Lives in a tree in the Hundred Acre Woods," "Best friends are Piglet and Christopher Robin," "Funny," "Is friends with all of the animals in the woods," "Afraid of Woozles," etc.
  • Explain that today you are going to start planning a story and you are going to focus on the pre-writing phase of writing. You can say, “Pre-writing is what we do when we plan who our story is about and what the important parts of our story will be. Today we will be thinking about the characters in our story.”
(10 minutes)
  • Hold up Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne and ask your students to think about the different background of each character by saying, “What do you know about Rabbit? How is Rabbit’s life different from Winnie the Pooh’s life?"
  • Allow for students to share out details from several characters' life. Explain that this is called a backstory and each character has one. A backstory includes some of the details that we want our readers to know about a character’s life.
  • Read aloud an early chapter from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne and pause as you read to take note of details about Winnie the Pooh’s life using a think aloud format. You might highlight where he lives, activities he participates in, what he likes to eat, etc. For example, you might pause and say, “Hmm. So he lives alone in a house under a tree, and there is a sign over his door. He has many honey pots in his house. I wonder if he eats anything else? I wonder if this is an important part of the story?” Continue to read the story until the end of the chapter.
  • When finished, say, “Now that we have been paying close attention to the details in a character’s life, we are going to create our own character and plan their story."
(10 minutes)
  • Project the Realistic Fiction Character Organizer worksheet on the board.
  • Tell your students that you are going to work together to pre-write and plan a character in a new story.
  • Start by asking students to think of who our character should be (Animal? Person? Made-up creature?).
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about who what they think the character should be like.
  • Start with the first section of the organizer (name, what they look like) and continue to each section, asking your students for their input and filling out the organizer.
  • When you reach the section asking, “How is this important to the story?” Help your students brainstorm how they might connect something about their character to the bigger story (for example, Winnie the Pooh loves honey and this plays a big part in many of his adventures).
  • Focus on using as many details as possible, explaining to your students that the more they write and draw on the organizer during this pre-writing phase, the more interesting and well-planned their story will be.
(20 minutes)
  • Go over the directions on the planning sheet used in the previous section, Realistic Fiction Character Organizer, and answer any student questions.
  • Send students to complete the organizer independently.
  • Circulate around the room and provide support as needed.


  • For students who need additional support, allow them to draw a detailed picture of their character, focusing on the drawing portion of the worksheet. The student can be encouraged to dictate their thinking to a teacher or aide for the writing portion and/or be provided with words written on an index card.
  • Students can also be strategically paired with another child to plan one character together.


  • More advanced students can be encouraged to write additional information about their character’s back story using writing paper.
  • Students who complete their character organizer early can create an additional organizer for a second character in their story.
(5 minutes)
  • Collect student organizers and assess whether students were able to use the organizer to plan out a fictional character using each category provided.
(5 minutes)

Gather students together for closing and review. Ask 1-2 students to share out to the whole class who their character is and one thing that we should know about them. Tell students that when we take the time to use pre-writing and planning to create our characters and think carefully about them as individuals, our stories become interesting and exciting for our readers to read. This is just like the way we feel about characters we love, such as Winnie the Pooh.

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