Lesson: Major and Minor Characters

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to distinguish between major and minor characters.

Lesson Plan

Warm Up (3-5 mins) Students are seated on the carpet with a partner.  Students will be expected to turn and talk with this partner during guided practice. Students read the objective.  Yesterday, we learned about characters and setting.  Today as readers we will learn the difference between major and minor characters.  This is important to notice as we read because it helps us track a characters actions and interactions with others throughout a longer text.


Instruction (3-5 mins) Define a major character as character that is present throughout a text.  Major characters are important to the story and their actions are normally detailed throughout text.  Most of the dialogue and inner thinking happens with the main character.  Minor characters are also important to the story because they can interact with and affect the major character.  However, minor characters could be removed from the story without drastically changing the plot.


Modeling (10-15 mins) Read aloud from a text.  I use The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, a popular picture book that I will return to throughout the unit.  I read aloud the first few pages and stop following the paragraph below.

The next morning, when Unhei arrived at school, she found a glass jar on her desk with some pieces of paper in it.  Unhei took one out and read it aloud. “Diasy.”  That’s my baby sister’s nickname, but she said you can use it if you want,” said Cindy, who sat next to her.  Unhei nodded and unfolded another piece. “Wensdy?” “ Yeah. You came here on Wednesday,” said Ralph.

    At three o’clock, the bell rang for the end of the school day.  Unhei looked out the window and saw it was sprinkling.  She watched other kids leaving in groups.  “Hey!” a familiar voice called out to her.  Unhei turned around to see the curly-haired boy again.  “I’m Joey,” he said.  “And you? Don’t you have any name?”  Unhei thought for a moment.  “Well…I can show you,” she said and took out the small red pouch.  She pressed the wooden block on the ink pad and then stamped it on a piece of paper. 

Readers, as I was reading I noticed a difference between the boy Joey and the other students.  Daisy and Ralph both offered suggestions for Unhei to use as her new American name.  But that was the only time they spoke to Unhei.  On the other hand Joey seems like he will be more important to the story because Unhei is willing to show him what her name looks like.  Their conversation is much longer than the other students and they seem to be becoming friends.  This is important to notice because we want to track main characters across stories.  I think Joey should be added to our major character chart.  I will write Daisy and Ralph under minor characters. 

 Guided Practice (5-10 mins) Teacher continues to read aloud until the end of the book.  Students are asked to stop and jot in their notebooks characters they would add to the major character column.  Students turn and talk with a partner to share what characters they added to the chart.  Teacher calls on partnerships to share out for the entire group.  Repeat this process for students to complete the chart for minor characters. 


Independent Practice (15-20 mins) Students return to their seats and complete their own major/minor character chart.  Students should read independently in their "just right" books and fill out the chart using details from their own book.  Students work independently for approximately 15 minutes.


Exit Slip (3-5 mins) Students complete the major/minor character worksheet as an exit slip to ensure all students mastered the objective for the lesson.  To differentiate the lesson for lower/struggling readers the paragraphs can be read aloud to students.


Reflection: My students really enjoyed this lesson.  Mostly because it was a review of skills learned in the fourth grade and they were able to master the concept.  It is an important lesson to teach again to ensure that students are aware that not all characters are as important as others and therefore do not need to be tracked as closely.  This lesson could be changed using a different book that has multiple characters or fit into a unit based on a chapter book read aloud. 

Lesson Resources

Major & Minor Characters Worksheet   Activity


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