Lesson plan

Elements of a Story

In this interactive lesson, your students will learn to identify four elements of a fictional story: characters, setting, problem, and solution.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to identify four elements of a fiction story.

(2 minutes)
  • Tell students that today we are going to identify the elements that make up a story.
  • Explain that an element is an essential part of something and every fiction story has the same key elements: characters, setting, problem, and solution.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students think about a familiar story, like "Hansel and Gretel."
  • Display the Elements of a Story: Circle Chart using a document camera.
  • In the section labeled characters, write “Who?” and explain that the characters are the people or animals the story is about. Then ask students to name the main characters in the story (i.e., Hansel, Gretel, and the witch) and record their answers on the chart.
  • Explain that setting is when and where the story takes place. Write “when & where” in the section labeled setting, then have students describe the setting (i.e., a house made of candy, in the woods).
  • Repeat with problem (the conflict that the character(s) face) and solution (the resolution to the problem).
(13 minutes)
  • Show a short, wordless video like Pixar’s, Boundin’.
  • Display a blank copy of the circle chart, and with students, complete each section of the chart. (Note: Allow time for students to discuss each section with a partner as you complete the chart.)
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out a copy of the story "The Frog Prince" and a blank Elements of a Story: Circle Chart to each student.
  • Instruct students to read the story and fill out the circle chart independently.
  • Circulate and offer support as needed.


  • Provide a partially completed worksheet for students during independent practice (i.e., fill in the setting and problem sections so that students are focused only on completing two sections independently).
  • Allow students to draw pictures in each section rather than writing.


  • Have students apply the skills learned to find the elements in a story of their choice.
(10 minutes)
  • Cut out the cards in the Elements of a Story: Sort It Out! activity and hand out one card to each student.
  • Hang the elements of a story signs that are included with the activity and hang each sign in one corner of the room.
  • Instruct students to read their card and go stand in the corner with the element that matches the card they are holding.
  • Collect the cards, mix them up, and pass them out again to repeat the activity.
(5 minutes)
  • Choose a few cards from the assessment activity and read them aloud.
  • After you read each card, have students call out which element of a story you’ve read.

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