First graders boost their reading and writing skills in this lesson plan that teaches learners how to analyze a character. Young readers will learn how to describe fictional characters by identifying internal and external traits and providing concrete evidence to support their thinking. After being guided to complete a character analysis using the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, children will repeat the exercise using a fictional story of their choosing. In addition to improving fiction comprehension and critical thinking skills, this lesson is a great way to introduce learners to tools that will help them when writing realistic fiction.
Students will be able to use evidence to describe the traits of fictional characters.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
Hold up a familiar picture book (that you have read previously) such as Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, and ask your students how they would describe the main character, Miss Rumphius. Answers might include: "She is an old woman," "She loves flowers," "She traveled."
Explain that when you describe a character in a story you can use a special word called a trait. Say, "One way we can describe a character is by using words to tell how a character behaves or looks, called a trait. A trait is what makes the character unique or special. For example, we might say that Miss Rumphius loves beautiful things, like lupines. We might also describe her as a woman who is older and has long hair."
Say, “Today we are going to be looking at different characters to find their outside character traits (or what we can see about them) and their inside traits (or things you learn by hearing what they say or seeing what they do). When we are searching, we will be looking for evidence. Can anyone tell me what evidence is?”
Allow several students to share ideas. Reframe student comments as needed to share the definition that evidence means examples to prove something is true. For example, evidence that Miss Rumphius loved lupines could come from page 18 where it says, “'Lupines,' said Miss Rumphius with satisfaction. 'I have always loved lupines the best.'” You might find your evidence in the illustrations or the words of a book.
Pre-read the read-aloud text just prior to the start of the lesson.
Review the definitions for vocabulary words in both English and the student's home language (L1).
Provide pre-written vocabulary cards and individual student glossaries for students to reference as you introduce new vocabulary.
Model finding additional traits and evidence from other familiar read-alouds.