EL Support Lesson

Character Actions and Emotions

Use this lesson to help your ELs describe a character’s emotion based on actions. It can be a stand-alone lesson or used as support to the lesson Close Reading: Reading Through Character Emotion.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Close Reading: Reading Through Character Emotion lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Close Reading: Reading Through Character Emotion lesson plan.

Students will be able to use close reading strategies to read a text and use character emotions to develop a theory about the character.


Students will be able to describe character emotions with adjectives using graphic organizers and role-playing.

(3 minutes)
  • Act out something for your students that they can label as a specific emotion. For example, run around the class looking for something and then sigh in relief when you find it.
  • Distribute sticky notes and ask students to write down the emotions they saw you act out. Ask students to share with their partners and post the sticky note on the board to start a list of familiar emotions.
  • Start a class discussion regarding emotions they see in fictional texts, or their everyday life, and write them under the sticky notes on the board.
  • Ask students to read the following student-facing language objective: "I can describe character emotions with adjectives using a graphic organizer and role-playing."
(7 minutes)
  • Review the list of emotions and circle the ones that are tiered words for the lesson. Ask students to tell the meaning of the emotion they’re familiar with in their home language (L1) or new language (L2) or act out the emotion. Verify their definitions with a vocabulary card visual or definition.
  • Distribute the Vocabulary Cards and provide the meanings for the rest of the tiered words. Ask students to turn to their partner and provide an example in which they would feel this emotion. Provide this sentence stem: "I feel this emotion when ____."
  • Allow them to draw pictures to accompany the meanings in the vocabulary cards. Advise the students that they have the option to quickly sketch a scenario in which they’d feel the emotion or just draw a face with the emotion.
(15 minutes)
  • Display the Glossary worksheet and write “New Sentence” on the last column of the glossary sheet. Tell students they’ll now create sentences using the new words they’ve learned, but they will focus on how actions can show someone’s emotions.
  • Refer to the list of emotions on the board and box the words that are adjectives. Provide the meaning of the word adjectives and give an example of how an adjective is used in a sentence. For example, "I know Andres is terrified because he is crying and hiding."
  • Ask students to help you create more sentences to describe potential actions and allow them to act out their sentences.
  • Distribute the Character Emotion Match Cards worksheet. Read through the Character Actions and Emotions and allow the students to work in groups to pair the actions with the emotions. When they’re finished, ask students to switch partners to check each other’s answers.
  • Distribute the Character Emotion Descriptions worksheet and review how to cut and paste the emotion. Also, write the descriptive sentence in the table for the first example.
  • Allow students to complete the rest of the table in partnerships. Choose three students to share their answers and have the other students give a thumbs up or down if they agree or disagree. Correct any misconceptions.

No discourse focus for this lesson plan.


  • Provide the definitions for the key terms on their glossary and vocabulary cards in their home language (L1) in addition to their new language (L2).
  • Allow students to draw pictures on the Vocabulary Cards or Glossary worksheet that reflect the meaning of the word and to act out the actions in the worksheets.
  • Have another student read the scenarios from the Character Emotion Match Cards to the beginning ELs. Provide visuals that correspond with the character’s actions or act out the actions for the student yourself.
  • Provide a word bank with the specific tiered words that describe the character’s actions in The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Evaluating Character Traits worksheet.


  • Allow them to begin reading the text in the formative section without listening to it read aloud. Ask them to complete the whole The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Evaluating Character Traits worksheet and share their thoughts about the boy’s actions and character traits during the closing activity.
  • Ask students to be the first to share their answer to their assessments during the closing activity.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the first page of The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Evaluating Character Traits worksheet and read through the text. Underline the character’s actions as you read the text.
  • Tell students they will reread the text and pay special attention to the underlined character actions. They will then use a tiered emotion word to describe the character’s emotion for each action.
  • Have a student repeat the directions and ask students to write the emotion the character displays next to each action.
(5 minutes)
  • Allow students to share their answers to the formative assessment worksheet. Ask that they say the character’s emotions using a sentence such as, "I know the boy is ecstatic because he is laughing about the trick he played on the villagers."
  • Ask students: "How can role-playing a character’s actions help you understand a character’s emotions? What other subjects or topics can you use role-playing in to help you understand new ideas?"
  • Remind students that it’s important to understand the emotions behind a character’s actions because it will help them understand the plot and theme of the story.

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