Teaching character types is so much fun. Your students will love discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly about each character in a story!
Teaching Character Types to Third and Fourth Graders
The Common Core State Standards ask third and fourth grade students to describe characters and explain in paragraph form:
RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
RL.4.3 Describe a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
To construct a response that describes a character, students can take these steps:
- Find details about the character in the text.
- Make a generalization about the character’s personality and write a topic sentence.
- Support the topic sentence with evidence from the text.
- Cite the text.
- Write a conclusion.
Let’s take a look at an example from “How the Camel Got His Hump” by Rudyard Kipling.
I use this process when teaching character types at the beginning of the year. Later, we explore common archetypes.
Every time we read a story, we consider archetypes. Kids can practice with short picture books, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It also works well when reading longer novels. My students had a blast analyzing characters from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! The big debate centered on Snape’s true archetype.
Teaching Character Types to Fifth Graders
By fifth grade, students should be able to pull information from texts to determine archetypes. Now they’re ready to compare and contrast characters. Here’s the standard:
RL.5.3 Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Kids can organize their comparisons with this graphic organizer. My students use these steps to construct a response:
- Write a topic sentence that tells the characters’ names and whether they are more similar or more different.
- Group evidence. If characters are more similar, write that information first (and vice versa).
- Conclude with a summary or insight.
You can find a more elaborate set of organizers for comparing characters in my earlier blog post, Enjoy Teaching Fables.
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Enjoy teaching character types!