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Brief Description

Students use characters, settings, and plots to write original stories.


Students apply their knowledge of the following story elements to write a story: character, plot, and setting.

Key Concepts

story elements, characterization, setting, plot, creative writing

Materials Needed

paper, pens, scissors, 3 plastic bags labeled "characters," "plots," and "settings"

Lesson Plan

Present this activity after students have learned about the story elements of character, plot, setting, and theme.

Before using the lesson, create a list of characters, a list of settings, and a list of plots. You will need one of each element for each student in your class. For example, if you have 25 students in your class, you will need 25 different characters, 25 different settings, and 25 different plots. Write the elements on paper, cut the paper into strips, and put the strips into the plastic bags according to the three categories.

Tell students they are to answer the essential question: How can I apply the elements of a story to create an original story? Explain they will apply what they have learned about character, plot, and setting to write an original story. If necessary, review how those elements work together to create a unified, interesting story.

Go around the room, and have each student pick a character, a setting, and a plot from each bag. (Teacher's note: Students will chuckle when they see some of the combinations they pick. For example, Character... your English teacher; Setting... the local zoo; Plot... The character is claustrophobic.)

Explain to students that they are to create a story tying together the three story elements they chose. Encourage students to be creative! (For example, the teacher could have accidentally become locked in the restroom while visiting the local zoo.)

Allow time for students to write the first draft during class time; have them finish and edit their stories for homework. The next day, ask students to peer-edit, revise, rewrite, and illustrate their stories. Invite a few students to share their stories before handing them in. (Teacher's suggestion: I display all the stories and illustrations in the classroom under a bulletin board titled "You Didn't Hear It from Me, but ... ")

Teacher's note: The length of the assignment depends on the level of your students. I usually require my seventh graders to write at least four good, detailed paragraphs.


Rubric for grading:

Character Development -- 25pts
(Did the student develop the character?)

Setting Development -- 25pts
(Did the student describe the setting?)

Plot Development -- 25pts
(Did the student clearly explain the situation in a logical manner?)

Illustration -- 25pts.
(Does the illustration give a depiction of the story and is it colorful?)

Lesson Plan Source

This lesson was adapted from a Mailbox magazine issue.

Miriam Arvinger, ([email protected]) Guilford Middle School, Greensboro, North Carolina

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