Lesson plan

We’ve Got a Problem!

What’s the problem? Teach your students to identify the problem and solution in a piece of fiction.
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Students will be able to identify the problem and solution in a fictional story.

(10 minutes)
  • Read a familiar short story aloud, such as "The Three Little Pigs" (or see suggested media for a digital read aloud version).
  • Tell students that together you are going to learn how to identify the problem and solution in a story.
  • Review the definition of problem (the conflict that gets in the way of the main character getting what they want or need) and solution (a resolution or answer that helps the main character solve the problem; the solution is not always the conclusion of the story).
(5 minutes)
  • Summarize the premise of the story aloud (i.e., "The three little pigs wanted to build houses for themselves").
  • Model the problem with a "think aloud" (i.e., "The pigs faced a problem in this story because the big, bad wolf kept blowing down their houses").
  • Continue the think aloud to model the solution (i.e.,"The pigs solved their problem when they went to their brother’s brick house, which the wolf couldn’t blow down").
(10 minutes)
  • Show a short video, such as "It’s Smarter to Travel in Groups: Penguins"
  • Hand out the Problem & Solution Organizer.
  • Then ask students to identify the problem: What problem did the penguins face? (A killer whale was trying to eat them.) Record the problem in the "problem" box on the worksheet.
  • Have students to talk to an elbow partner about the solution to the problem (i.e., "The penguins worked together to tip the ice in order to stop the killer whale"). Record the solution in the "solution" box.
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out a copy of the story "The Pop Quiz Blues" to each student and instruct students to read it to themselves.
  • When students are finished reading, have them use a blank portion of their Problem & Solution Organizer to record the problem and solution in the story (Kayla was worried she didn’t do well on her pop quiz / She decided to do her homework so she would be ready for the next quiz).
  • Circulate and offer support as needed.


  • Provide additional examples during guided practice.
  • Provide a partially complete worksheet (i.e., the problem is filled in) and allow students to complete the missing part.
  • Have students draw a picture in each box to show the problem and solution, rather than having them write.


  • Have students apply the skills learned to find the problem and solution in a book (or chapter) of their choice.
  • Use a digital read-aloud to present text in an alternative way (see suggested media).
(10 minutes)
  • Show another short video, like "It’s Smarter to Travel in Groups: Ants."
  • Have students use the remaining portion of their Problem & Solution Organizer to record the problem and solution from the video.
  • Collect student worksheets and check for understanding.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students suggest a problem they might face in real life (i.e. "I forgot my lunch at home") and ask other students to suggest a solution to the problem (i.e. "I will call mom and ask her to bring it to school"). Repeat several times.

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