Lesson plan

Making Sense of Realism and Fantasy

Is it real or is it fantasy? This lesson introduces students to the literary concepts of realism and fantasy. Readers will practice this skill by using details in texts to distinguish the two genre elements.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Realism and Fantasy pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Realism and Fantasy pre-lesson.
  • Students will be able to use details in a text to distinguish between elements of realism and fantasy.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Give each student ¼ sheet of a piece of white paper, in the shape of a rectangle.
  • Invite students to take five minutes to draw any picture they want to draw-- real or fantasy.
  • After five minutes has passed, have students share their drawings and discuss whether the pictures could happen in real life. Encourage students to justify their responses. Do one example with the class to model justifying a response.
(10 minutes)
  • Post a two-column chart on the board with one column labeled “Realism” and the other column labeled “Fantasy.” Explain the difference between the two categories, using an example for each.
  • Read one or two pages from the book Amazing and Incredible Counting Stories (or other self-selected text).
  • After you read each story, think aloud and tell the students how you know that certain events are real or fantasy.
  • Write these details in the corresponding column on the chart, under “Realism” or “Fantasy.”
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute at least one sticky note to each student and tell the students that you would like for them to find examples of realism and fantasy as you read the story aloud.
  • Begin reading aloud the story Dooby Dooby Moo.
  • Stop periodically to add students’ sticky notes to the two-column chart and discuss their reasons for classifying certain parts as fantasy or realism.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Sorting It Out: Real or Fantasy? worksheet.
  • Direct the students to identify which sentences show realism and which sentences show fantasy. Tell the students that they should explain and give the reason for their answer in the space below each sentence.


  • Encourage students to write their own stories that include elements of reality and fantasy. Have two students exchange stories and try to identify elements of realism and fantasy in their partner’s story.


  • Have students create illustrations that match the sentences and ask the students if it would be possible to see the action.
  • Have students create a digital drawing that portrays either realism or fantasy and create a story that goes along with the picture.
  • Utilize interactive whiteboard software for students to sort events that fit under realism or fantasy.
(5 minutes)
  • Distribute index cards or exit slips.
  • Have the students name several examples of realism and fantasy using texts of their choice. (These could be leveled readers, library books, or any texts that the students access.)
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to share their examples of realism and fantasy with the group.
  • Encourage students to compare and contrast ideas as well as give reasons for their thinking.

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