EL Support Lesson

The Key Elements of Fictional Text

This lesson will provide your ELs with support as they learn about the key elements of fictional text, including characters, setting, and plot. Use as a stand alone activity or a support lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the The Elements of Fiction: Creating a Story Map lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the The Elements of Fiction: Creating a Story Map lesson plan.

Students will be able to explain the key elements of a fictional text.


Students will be able to explain the key elements of a fictional text with verbs using a story map and paragraph frame for support.

(3 minutes)
  • Get out a familiar picture book that the students have heard read aloud previously in class. Using the cover to activate prior knowledge, ask students to think about the following questions:
    • Who are the characters in the story?
    • What is the setting of the story?
    • What is the plot of the story?
  • Ask students to do a think-pair-share with their elbow partner. Next, provide brief, student-friendly definitions of character, setting, and plot. Tell students that these are all examples of elements of a fictional text. Briefly review the difference between fiction and nonfiction, referring to books in the classroom library as necessary.
(10 minutes)
  • Reiterate that character, setting, and plot are all elements of fictional text. Break the word element down by explaining that it basically means "part of" or "included in" a fictional text. Explain that today, they will continue exploring elements of fictional text, but first they are going to learn some new words to help them understand what they will be reading.
  • Write the following words on the whiteboard: drove, helped, roasted, read, relax. Tell students that these words will be in the fictional text they are reading today. Ask a student to read the words aloud. Call on a few students to act out each word. For example, a student can pretend to drive, help, roast, or read. Model a think-aloud by saying, "Hmm....I think these words all have something in common. Can anyone help me figure out what part of speech each of these words are?"
  • Give students a minute to brainstorm with a partner. Call on a few students to share their answers. Clarify any misconceptions and explain to the students that these words are all action words, which are verbs. Ask students to stand up and say the following chant with movement: "A verb is an action" (have students run in place as they say the chant).
  • Ask students to close their eyes. Hide the notecards with verbs, adjectives, and nouns throughout the room. Ask students to open their eyes and explain to them that you hid a bunch of notecards around the room, and their job is to find the notecards and decide if the word they have is a verb. Give students a few minutes to find all the cards.
  • Next, ask students with the verb cards to come to the front of the room and tape their card on the whiteboard. Read through the words with the students and determine if the words are verbs.
  • Illicit a discussion by writing the following discussion prompts on the board:
    • ____ is a verb because ____.
    • ____ is not a verb because ____.
(10 minutes)
  • Write 4–5 sentences from the Paragraph Frame: Summer Vacation worksheet on the board, choosing sentences that include verbs. Write the following directions on the board and call on a student to help you read them aloud:
    1. Read sentences aloud.
    2. Find and circle verbs.
    3. Figure out if the verb is present tense or past tense.
    4. Create sentences in pairs.
  • Model finding a verb in one of the sentences. For example, if reading the following sentence, say, "The Bradley family packed up their car and drove to the mountains for a weekend camping trip. Hmm....I think I read a couple of verbs. The word packed is an action that I can do. I can pack my backpack, my lunch, or a suitcase. I'm going to circle the word packed. A person can also drive. Someone can drive to the mountains, a park, or the beach. I'm going to circle the word drove, too."
  • Call on students to help find the rest of the verbs in the story. Point out that the story is written in past tense, meaning it already happened.
  • Draw a T-chart on the board, labeling the left side "Past" and the right side "Present." Explain that verbs, or actions, can be in the present tense, meaning the action is happening now, or past tense, meaning the action already happened.
  • Provide a few examples from the text and record them on the T-chart. For example, the words packed and drove would go under the past section of the T-chart. Next, model figuring out the present tense of each word, saying, "To change packed to present tense, I'm going to take off the -ed. I will record the word pack under the present section of the T-chart. To change drove to present tense is a bit trickier. Hmm...what's the present tense of drove? Oh yes, drive. I drive to the store. I will record drive under the present section of the T-chart." Continue this process, illiciting answers from students and having them come up to the board to write their answers on the T-chart.
  • Split the students into pairs, pass out whiteboards and markers, and give them a few minutes to use a few of the words from the T-chart to create sentences. When students are finished, allow a few students to read their sentences and determine if the sentence they wrote includes a verb in past or present tense.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Story Map and Paragraph Frame: Summer Vacation worksheets. Read through the graphic organizer using a choral chant. Call on a few students to review what the words character, setting, and plot mean. Clarify any misconceptions and remind students that there can be more than one character in a story.
  • Explain that they are going to read through Summer Vacation with their partners and fill out the story map together. Encourage students to draw detailed pictures and sentences in the beginning, middle, and end portion of their graphic organizers. Challenge students to circle the verbs in the story. Explain that the story map is a great support to use to understand the elements, or parts, of a fictional text better. Give students about five minutes to read the text and complete their story map together.
  • Call on two sets of partners to come to the front of the classroom and orally describe their story map, using the following sentence starters/stems or sentences that they wrote with their partner to increase the depth of conversation:
    • The characters are ____.
    • The setting is ____.
    • In the beginning, we drew ____ because ____.
    • In the middle, we drew ____ because ____.
    • In the end, we drew ____ because ____.
    • One verb we circled was ____. We know it is a verb because ____.


  • Provide students with simplified text or text in student's home language (L1).
  • Allow students to read Summer Vacation to a teacher prior to reading with partners.
  • Provide students with vocabulary cards and visuals.
  • Provide students with a bilingual dictionary to reference throughout activities.
  • Allow students to fill out the paragraph frame with a sympathetic non-EL student.


  • Ask students to summarize the meaning of character, setting, and plot in their own words.
  • Encourage students to orally describe their story map without using the sentence starters/frames.
  • Have students write their final paragraph without the paragraph frames.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to go back to their independent spaces and finish the paragraph frame on the bottom of the Paragraph Frame: Summer Vacation worksheet. Remind students to use their story map and the text for support.
  • Walk around the room and observe students, taking note of students who struggle to complete the paragraph frame.
  • Have students turn their paper over when finished and draw a picture of the characters and their favorite part of the story.
(2 minutes)
  • Gather students together in a circle and ask them to turn to their elbow partner and answer one of the following discussion prompts:
    • Name one element of fictional text and explain the meaning.
    • Create two sentences, one in present and one in past tense, using a verb from the story.
    • Describe the plot in the story, using the names of at least two characters.
    • If you could change the setting of the story, where would you take the Bradleys on summer vacation and what would they do?

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