Lesson Plan

Learning the Components of Fantasy Stories!

Students will develop at least one rich dynamic character for a fantasy story they'll be writing in subsequent lessons
Tali H.
Eastern Regional Education Director Common Sense Education
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, CA
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My Grades Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, World Languages, English Language Learning, Health & Wellness

Students will be able to...

  • Create a rich character to be part of their fantasy story including: physical attributes, motivation, personality characterisitcs. Students will be able to answer the following questions:

    Connection to TPACK:

    -content - what are the key elements of character development?

    -pedagogy - how do we describe and create rich, robust characters?

    -technology - what tools best help us organize thoughts and ideas and convey understanding. What tools help us bring these characters to life?

    • Who is this character?

    • What are they like?

    • What are their likes and dislikes?

    • What do they look like?

    • What are their strengths and weakness?

    • What are possible sources of conflict for them?

English Language Arts
Grades 3 - 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The hook

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Using padlet, teacher will ask students to think about their favorite characters from books they've read. To prompt students' thinking, teachers may hold up fantasy books they've read as a class (read-aloud) , guided reading, independent reading or from earlier grade levels (consider famous fairy tales, like the 3 Little Pigs, Cinderella variations, Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day, etc).

Ask students to record on Padlet a favorite character and why. (responses may vary from more detailed to one word).


2 Direct Instruction

Using ReadWriteThink and using one of the characters students wrote about on padlet,  teacher and students will describe the characteristics of this character all together using completed a graphic organizer developed on ReadWriteThink.

Graphic organizer should include the following components:

  • name
  • physical description
  • prominent personality traits
  • 1 strength and 1 weakness (encourage students to think beyond superhero traits...)
  • Possible source of conflict

Part of this direct instruction is developing a word bank all together, so students have words they can use later.  Use Corkboard (only issue is that students need to have an email address to use - but you can get around this by creating a class email address and giving all students access to it).

Teacher can use 2 Story Board Interactive (character development AND the conflict map) http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/s... or create own


3 Guided Instruction

As a class, develop a new character together, responding to the same prompts used from the direct instruction piece:


physical description

prominant personality traits
1 strenght and 1 weakness (encourage students to think beyond superhero traits...)
Possible source of conflict

Teacher should be doing this whole class, while students are working on the same graphic organizer independently, so everyone is engaged (students can share devices if not enough, or can do on pen and paper if only teacher has a device).

Teachers and students can continue to add to Corkboard word bank.

Then with class, teacher draws the character on Toontastic. (Only issue is - need a background/setting for the character. While this will ultimately be another lesson, teacher/class can quickly choose one for the purposes of this part of the lesson).

4 Independent Practice

Students do the exact same assignment you did as a whole class, individually now (or in groups). They also then draw their character on toontastic. In this way, they're now independently doing exactly what was just modeled/done with them in the Guided Practice part of the lesson (also see note about needing background and setting)

Early finishers: Students choose another student's character and start to write a conversation between their 2 characters.

5 Wrap up

Students share their character cartoons with one another. Teacher can either put students in groups to share, or do musical chairs activity (students walk around room and when music stops, they share with the person closest to them). Students will be prompted to think about how their characters might interact, specifically, what they might say to each other. 

Another version - students circulate class, pretending to be their characters and interact with one another accordingly.

Purpose: oppotortunity for students to see each other's work and share; to better understand their own character; to begin thinking more about plot lines for future lessons working towards the final outcome of a rich, engaging fantasy story.