Early Literacy Skills: Teaching about Characters
To develop literacy comprehension skills, teachers focus on different story elements such as setting, character, sequence, conflict, climax, and resolution. In learning about characters and character development, students can gain a deeper understanding with these few lesson ideas.
- What is a character? Ask the students what makes a good story? Discuss favorite characters from books and movies and talk about why these characters are interesting and liked.
- Attributes: Consider a character from a story read in class. Ask the students to name attributes about the character and write these on chart paper or a whiteboard. Look at the list of attributes. Are they stated in the book directly or inferred? (factual traits vs. inferred traits). If the trait is inferred, what in the story makes us describe them with that trait?
- Compare: Consider a different character in the story and list attributes. How is this character similar to the first? How is the character different? Compare Villain vs. Hero of a story. (ie Peter Pan vs. Captain Hook or Snow White vs. the Snow Queen). How do Villians make a story interesting? Does a villain encourage the hero to change?
- Sort Characters: Sort characters by attributes: heros and villains, animals and people, old and young, quiet and loud, big and little. Use LessonPix picture cards of the characters for sorting the characters.
- Character Map: Create a character map using a graphic organizer. Have students list attributes about a character they have read about. They may look for pictures in magazines or draw pictures that represent what their character is like.
- Character Class Books: Use LessonPix coloring pages to have a group of children color the main characters from a story. Have the students sequence the coloring pages into a book in the order that the characters appear in the the story. For example, in the story, The Mitten, the animals enter a mitten to stay warm. Have students color these animals and sequence the color pages in order the animals appear in the story. Staple the pages and make a cover for a class book. Have the students retell the story as they use the coloring pages class book.
- Flannel Board: Print character pictures or have students draw pictures of the main characters. Laminate the pictures. Glue sandpaper or felt on the back of the picture. Use these pictures on a flannel board to retell the story.
- Alternate Endings: Print character pictures, laminate, and glue on to a popsicle stick. Discuss the characters prior to reading the story. Begin reading the story aloud, but stop at the middle (or the conflict) of the story. Have the students use the character props to act out how they think the story might end.
- Act out the Story: Act out the story using story props. Students may dress as the characters to retell the story.
- Bingo: Create Bingo game in LessonPix based on characters and items from a story.
- Across the Curriculum: Incorporate characters in all content areas in art, math lessons, music, science, and social studies. LessonPix materials such as number cards, lacing cards, and pattern cards allow for characters to cross the curriculum and make learning fun.
Most of all - Play with stories; make it fun. Playful literacy takes us to new depths of imagination while promoting stronger language and cognitive skills.