Lesson Plan #: AELP-WCP0205
Submitted by: Ken Baker
Date: October 11, 2001
Grade Level: Kindergarten, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
- Language Arts/Writing
- Language Arts/Process Skills
- Language Arts/Literature/Children’s Literature
Duration: 30 minutes
Description: Students learn about the basic elements needed to write stories, with an emphasis on character, setting, and plot.
- top hat and magic wand
- paper and pencils
- 1-3 pictures of famous heroes or book characters
- 1-3 pictures of exotic or fun places (i.e. castles, tropical beaches, amusement park, or planets)
- 1-3 pictures that illustrate real or imaginary problems/challenges that children or grownups might face (i.e. doing homework, wizards dueling, a sporting competition, flying to the moon, etc.)
- Brave Little Monster by Ken Baker, illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes
- Worksheet (Characters, Setting, Plot)
Put all of the pictures into the top hat, and place the hat upside down on a table. Explain to the class that creating stories is like magic. When you write a story, it lets you magically become the hero that saves the day. Tap the brim of the hat with the magic wand and pull out one or more of the character/hero pictures from the hat. Shows the picture(s) to the class and explain who it is a picture of (if they don’t already know). Continue to say that not only do stories let you magically become the book’s hero, but when you write stories you can choose to become whatever hero you want. These heroes are the story’s main characters. Tap the hat again and pull out a picture of one or more of the fun/exotic places, and then explain that stories can magically whisk you away to far away places. These places are called the story’s setting. When you write a story you can transport yourself and your reader to any place or setting that you want. You can let your readers feel like they have really traveled to that place or setting by describing what it looks like, or even how it smells, feels (i.e. warm, cold, windy, etc), sounds, or tastes (i.e. salt water) like. Ask the class, Are characters and settings all that you need for a story? After the responses die down, state that most stories start with a problem or challenge that the hero must resolve. Tap the hat again and pull out a picture of one or more of the challenges/problems. Explain that a story’s problem can be any kind of problem; an ordinary everyday problem or an extraordinary problem. It just needs to make the story interesting and somewhat believable. The main part of the story will be the hero trying to solve the problem — this is known as the plot. The hero won’t usually solve the problem on the first couple of tries, but the story usually ends when the hero finally solves the problem. Explain that the initial problem, the journey the character takes to try to solve the problem, and the ultimate resolution of the problem all comprise the story’s plot. (Note: for younger grades, you can simplify this section by not talking about “plot” and just referring to it as the story’s problem.) Inform students that you will be reading a story called, Brave Little Monster . Give each student a piece of paper that has the words Characters , Setting , and Plot listed on the left-hand side of the paper. Ask the children to try to identify and write down the characters, setting, and plot as the story is read. After the book is read, discuss the characters, setting, and plot of the story to make sure students understand the concepts being taught and to verify that they wrote down the appropriate responses on their papers:
- Main Character – Albert, the young monster
- Other Characters – Albert’s mom, the little girl, and the little boy
- Setting – Albert’s bedroom at bedtime
- Plot – Albert is afraid to go to sleep, because he thinks a little boy and a little girl are hiding in his room. As a result, Albert must find a way to get rid of the boy and the girl.
[ Author’s Note: For older students, the teacher might want to explore the following questions:
Next, lead the class in a spontaneous story creation exercise. Ask the class to suggest a hero. After the hero is decided on, ask for a setting and a potential problem. With the problem decided on, ask the class for ideas on how the main character can solve the problem. For the first two suggestions, narrate how the hero tries to solve the problem with those suggestions and then make up reasons why they don’t work. Select a third suggestion and narrate how it ultimately solves the problem.
Ask students to create their own stories using the elements of character, setting, and plot. [ Author’s Note: The level of planning required by the students to create their own stories is completely up to the teacher and depends on how much time the teacher wants to spend on this exercise. It could be as simple as an in-class writing/illustrating activity for fun that has no grade associated with it. Or, it could be as extensive as a full-scale writing project that would span several days with students being required to turn in multiple drafts before submitting the completed project. The format for the written stories is at the discretion of the teacher. Typical formats could include handwritten, typed, computer generated, booklet, manuscript style (double-spaced with 1-1/2 margins), etc.] Assessment: Ask students to identify the character(s), setting(s), and plot in their stories.
Special Comments: Ken Baker, author of Brave Little Monster , conducts school visits where he gives students an entertaining 30-40 minute slide presentation that explores this story creation process in greater detail. Visit his web site at http://www.bravemonster.com for more information.