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Comparing Literary Elements of Fiction Texts

Lesson Plan

Comparing Literary Elements of Fiction Texts


In this lesson, students review elements of fiction and compare and contrast stories in the same genre. Students will:

  • identify the literary elements of fiction—setting, character, plot, and theme.
  • compare and contrast different versions of the same story, based on literary elements.

Essential Questions

How do readers know what to believe in what they read, hear and view?
How do strategic readers create meaning from informational and literary text?
How does a reader’s purpose influence how text should be read?
How does interaction with text provoke thinking and response?
How does what readers read influence how they should read it?
What is this text really about?
  • How does interaction with text provoke thinking and response?
  • How do strategic readers create meaning from informational and literary texts?
  • How does the reader’s purpose influence how a text should be read?


  • Literary Elements: The essential techniques used in literature (e.g., characters, setting, plot, theme).
  • Character: A person or an animal in a story.
  • Setting: The time and place in which a story unfolds.
  • Plot: The structure of a story. The sequence in which the author arranges the events in a story.
  • Conflict: A struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces, or emotions.
  • Resolution: The part of a story in which the conflict is resolved.
  • Summarize: To capture all the most important parts of the original text (paragraph, story, poem), but express them in a much shorter space and in the reader’s own words.
  • Theme: A topic of discussion or writing; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work.


45–90 minutes/1–2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

Prerequisite Skills haven't been entered into the lesson plan.


  • Cendrillon by Robert D. San Souci. Aladdin Paperbacks, 1998. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
  • Comparing Folklore Chart, one for each student (L-5-1-1_Comparing Folklore Chart_student.xls)
  • Cinderella Stories Chart, teacher/class copy: to be used for overhead transparency or projected on a screen for the class to view (L-5-1-2_Cinderella Stories Chart_teacher.xlsx)
  • multiple copies of any of the following books (enough to have the class read in small groups) Two students could share a copy of one book within a group.
    • The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo (easy). HarperCollins, 2000.
    • Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman (easy). Henry Holt and Company, 2007.
    • Cinderella, Puss in Boots and Other Favorite Tales as told by Charles Perrault (easy). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000
    • Cinderella retold by Amy Ehrlich (medium-easy). Dutton Children’s Books, 2004.
    • Sootface, An Ojibwa Cinderella Story by Robert D. San Souci (medium-easy). Dragonfly Books, 1997.
    • The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo (medium). HarperCollins, 1992.
    • Yeh-Shen, A Cinderella Story from China retold by Ai-Ling Louie (medium). Puffin, 1996.
    • The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo (medium). HarperCollins, 1996.
    • The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo (medium-challenging). HarperCollins, 2001.
    • Domilita: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition adapted by Jewell Reinhart Coburn (challenging). Shen’s Books, 2000.

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Formative Assessment

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    • By observing each student working in small groups, you can redirect or reteach individual students or a small group having difficulty with an element of fiction. As you walk among the groups, have a list of student names and record anecdotal notes and data about students’ participation, knowledge of literary elements, and reading strategies (needs). Collecting the Comparing Folklore Charts and the extending activity will offer the opportunity to assess each student’s needs.
    • Use the following checklist to evaluate students’ understanding:
      • Student demonstrates the ability to identify the key literary elements (setting, characters, conflict, resolution, theme).
      • Student can accurately compare/contrast at least three literary elements in multiple stories of the same genre.

Suggested Instructional Supports

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    Scaffolding, Active Engagement, Modeling, Explicit Instruction
    W: Guide students to build on understandings developed in Lesson 1 by comparing literary elements across texts. 
    H: Engage students by having them draw a picture of the setting in a Cinderella story. 
    E: Guide students to read two different versions of the Cinderella story and compare the literary elements of the stories.
    R: Allow students to work in small groups to complete a chart comparing literary elements in different stories. Have them discuss their charts in a large group and discover how literary elements make a story complete and interesting. 
    E: Observe student participation in small-group activities to determine individual understanding of the concepts. 
    T: Use a variety of texts and peer interaction so that students of all levels are able to compare literary elements and achieve understandings at their conceptual level. 
    O: This lesson provides opportunities for large-group instruction and modeling, small-group exploration, and large-group discussion and summary. 

Instructional Procedures

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    Focus Question: How does understanding literary elements improve comprehension within and across texts?

    Ask students to draw a picture of the setting in one of the versions of the Cinderella stories they have read. Display pictures around the classroom. Have students identify the stories based on the pictures.

    Part 1

    Hand out the Comparing Folklore Chart to each student (L-5-1-2_Comparing Folklore Chart_student.xlsx).

    Explain to students that they will work in small groups to read another version of the Cinderella story and complete the Comparing Folklore Chart for their particular story.

    Display the following stories and/or others from the list in the Materials section:

    • Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper (France)
    • Conkiajgharuna, the Little Rag Girl (Georgia)
    • Cinderella (Italy)

    Explain that these are different versions of the Cinderella story. In some ways, they will be like the two stories you have already discussed, and in other ways, they will be different.

    Arrange the class into small groups and provide each group with a different version of the Cinderella story. If possible, have multiple copies of each version so that each student in a group may have a copy. Instruct students to record the title of their story in the second column on their Comparing Folklore Chart. After they read the story, instruct students to fill in the literary elements on the chart.

    After the small groups have finished reading the story and completed the Comparing Folklore Chart, display the charts in the classroom. Have students do a “gallery walk” to compare the literary elements in each story.


    Display the Cinderella Stories Chart on an overhead transparency or on the computer (L-5-1-2_Cinderella Stories Chart_teacher.xlsx). Discuss with students how literary elements have important roles in making a story complete and interesting. Ask questions such as “Why is it important to tell where the story takes place? Why is it important to have characters?” Continue this questioning for each literary element.

    Ask, “What are the themes in the Cinderella stories?” (Don’t give up on your dreams. Be nice to everyone. Good things come to good people.) Lead students to discover that the theme in each version is similar.

    Conclude the discussion by asking, “What can we learn about different cultures based on the similarities and differences in literary elements among stories of the same genre?”

    Part 2

    Explain that students will use the information on the Comparing Folklore Chart to produce a concise summary of a story. (The summaries can be written or presented orally.) As an alternative, display the Cinderella Stories Chart as an overhead transparency or on the computer (L-5-1-2_Cinderella Stories Chart_teacher.xlsx). Students may use information from the chart to complete the summarizing activity.

    Have students work with a partner to develop a topic sentence to introduce the summary, for example, Cinderella was a brave person who overcame hardship by being true to herself and others. Then have students develop the summary by using the plot (conflict/resolution) to support the topic sentence. Tell students to list the most important events in the story, utilizing temporal words and phrases (first, next, before, after, last) to provide a logical account of the story. Finally, have students develop a conclusion that states the theme of the story.


    • For students who are ready to move beyond the standard, consider using the following activities, which may be done individually, with partners, as small groups, or as a class:
      • Rewrite the story by changing the personality of an important character. Then explain what happens to the plot as a result (for example, make Cinderella’s stepmother a kind and caring person, and the main conflict of the story disappears).
      • Remove a key event (remove the event of going to the ball and meeting the prince, and the whole story has to shift in another direction).
      • Have students who need additional practice find other versions of the Cinderella story or other folklore they have read, either on the Internet or in a book. One Web site is Have them identify the literary elements in their chosen version of the Cinderella story.

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Final 05/10/2013
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