Focus Question: What is the relationship between character traits and the plot of a story?
Ask volunteers to act out the story of “The Three Little Pigs” or have students watch an animated version of the story such as the one suggested in Materials. Then have the class identify the characters (three pigs, wolf) and the setting (long ago, in a woodland).
Ask, “What is the plot of a story?” Guide students to define plot as the sequence of events in a story. Write the definition on the board/interactive whiteboard. Then have students recall the plot of “The Three Little Pigs” and list the events in sequence.
Review the term physical characteristics and ask students to give examples of the physical characteristics of the wolf and the three little pigs in the story. (The wolf is big and hairy. He has a gruff voice. The pigs are small and cute.)
Write the term character traits on the board/interactive whiteboard. Say, “Character traits are different from physical characteristics. Character traits are a character’s personality, values, or beliefs. We discover character traits through a character’s actions.”
Ask, “What are some character traits of the wolf in the story?” (mean, scary) “What evidence from the story reveals the character traits of the wolf?” (He demands to be let into the pigs’ houses. He blows down two of the pigs’ houses.) “What are some character traits of the pigs?” (resourceful, clever) “What evidence from the story reveals their character traits?” (They use materials from the forest to build their houses. The last pig is clever because he uses bricks. They do not let the wolf in. The last pig saves his brothers. They make the wolf go away.)
Read aloud The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
Distribute a T-chart (L-3-3-2_T-Chart.doc) to each student. Have students complete the T-chart about the character traits and physical characteristics of the wolf and the pigs in Jon Scieszka’s version of the Three Little Pigs story. Then have students discuss their T-charts in small groups. Encourage students to decide whether they have their ideas in the correct category and to make changes if necessary.
Say, “The plot of a story involves a problem and a solution. What is the problem in the original story of the three little pigs?” (The wolf wants to get into the pigs’ houses, but they will not let him in.) “What is the solution to the problem?” (The pigs use a pot of boiling soup to drive the wolf away.)
Remind students of the character traits of the wolf and the pigs in the original story. Discuss how the character traits are related to the plot of the story.
Ask, “What is the problem in Jon Scieszka’s version of the story?” (The kind wolf wants to borrow a cup of sugar from the pigs, but he accidently blows down their houses by sneezing and eats the pigs.) “What is the solution to the problem?” (The third pig has the wolf arrested and sent to jail.)
Discuss how the character traits of the wolf and the pigs change the plot in Jon Scieszka’s version of the story.
Read aloud My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. Distribute the Character Comparison Worksheets (L-3-3-2_Character Comparison.doc) and ask students to compare the character traits of the main characters in the story—Richard and his sister Patricia.
Observe students to make sure they are using character traits, not physical characteristics, in their charts. Make anecdotal notes about students’ understanding of character traits.
Then have students work in small groups to answer the questions on the worksheet. Have students discuss their answers in small groups and then share with the class.
- Students who are ready to move beyond the standard may read “The Tortoise and the Hare” (see Related Resources) or another one of Aesop’s fables that includes two main characters. Have students complete the Character Comparison Worksheet and answer the questions related to plot.
- If students need additional practice, provide copies of the character traits and plot worksheet (L-3-3-2_Character Traits and Plot.docx). Model the task by reviewing the story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Have students identify character traits of Goldilocks that are important to the plot of the story. (curiosity, rudeness) Discuss how each character trait influences the plot of the story. (Because Goldilocks is curious, she goes inside the house of the three bears. Because she is rude, she eats baby bear’s food and sleeps in his bed.) Have students read other stories and fill in examples on the worksheet.