Lesson plan

Fairy Tales: Character Traits

In this literary lesson, students use fairy tales to practice identifying character traits. Students are challenged to justify their reasoning using text based support.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Character Traits in Fairy Tales pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Character Traits in Fairy Tales pre-lesson.

Students will be able to describe a character’s traits using text-based support.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Call the students together and tell them that today, they will learn about characters in stories.
  • Remind students that a character can be a person, animal, or creature. When we read about a character, we learn about what makes them different from other characters in the story. We can talk about the character’s physical traits that we can see or we can talk about the character traits they have on the inside.
  • Tell students that they will need to act like detectives finding evidence to solve a mystery. Remind them that evidence means proof. We will find evidence about character traits by reading about what how different characters act.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that when we talk about physical character traits, we are describing what a character looks like. These are traits that can be seen on the outside, like the character's hair color or clothing. Emphasize that physical traits and character traits are different things.
  • Tell students we will place this information on chart paper to help us write about the character. Make sure the chart paper is divided into two columns for outside and inside character traits.
  • Read aloud Little Red Riding Hood. Think aloud about the physical traits of the wolf. Say to students, "I want to think about what the story tells me about how the wolf looks. I need to look for evidence. I will go back to the story and look for information about that. It says in the story that Red says, 'What big ears you have' and 'What big teeth you have.' This tells me that wolf must have big ears and teeth. Now, I know that the physical traits the wolf has are big ears and teeth."
  • Record this information on the chart paper. Continue going back to the story and finding evidence about the wolf's physical traits.
  • Emphasize that we can only add information about the wolf’s physical traits that we find in the story. Remind students that they must have evidence from the text.
  • Next, model finding internal character traits. Describe internal traits to the students as what makes different characters unique. We can find evidence for these traits from a character's actions, words, and thoughts.
  • Model going back to the story and looking for the wolf's internal character traits. Tell students that it says in the story that the wolf pretended to be lost. Think aloud in your model by saying, "This tells me he is a dishonest wolf. Dishonesty is the character trait, and my evidence is that he lied to Red about getting lost in the woods. His actions show he is dishonest."
  • Make sure to emphasize that we find internal traits by looking at what the character says, does, and thinks. Continue to model finding internal character traits using textual evidence.
(15 minutes)
  • Have students fold pieces of paper in half. Have them label one side with "Physical Traits" and the other side with "Internal Traits."
  • Tell students that they will reread the story with partners and find evidence about Red Riding Hood’s character traits.
  • As a whole group, go back into the story and find one piece of evidence for each column. For example, an outside character trait for Red would be that she is a little girl.
  • Have the students look back in the story to find evidence to support this character trait. When students share, make sure they are able to say where in the text they found their answer.
  • For an internal trait, an example could be that Red is brave. Have students find evidence to support this trait.
  • Students continue working in pairs to finish the list.
  • At the end of this portion of the lesson, have students compile and share their lists.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that students will now read The Three Little Pigs on their own. They will find inside and outside character traits for one character of their choice.
  • They will make a list in the same way that they did for Red Riding Hood.

Enrichment: Have advanced students make an additional list of character traits based on a character from their independent reading.

Support: For students having difficulty, provide sentence stems. For example, “I know that Red Riding Hood is [trait] because in the story she says [direct quotation]." You can also highlight evidence within the text and have them tell you what traits go along with the evidence.

(15 minutes)
  • To assess understanding, circulate the room during the Guided Practice and Independent Working Time and observe students as they work.
  • At the conclusion of the lesson, collect students' lists of character traits. Check the lists for accuracy.
(5 minutes)
  • Call students together. Have students share the character traits they found in The Three Little Pigs. Make sure to ask students to tell where in the text they found the evidence for their answer.
  • When closing the lesson, ask students to share what they learned about character traits and the difference between physical and internal traits.

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