Lesson: How Minor Characters Affect Major Characters

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to notice when and how minor characters affect major 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 major and minor characters.  Can someone remind me the definition of a major character?  Have student volunteers describe a major and minor character.  Today we will learn that in many stories minor characters affect how a major character acts or feels.  This is important to notice because it gives us information about the major character’s personality and ideas about how they might change as a character. 


Instruction (3-5 mins) Today we will read The Name Jar again with a new focus.  We will now focus on how minor characters affect the major character Unhei.  Does anyone know what the word affect means?  Take student responses.  A minor character can affect or change the way another character thinks, feels, or acts.  For example, I act very differently at school than I do with my friends at home.  Characters are the same way.  A character may act differently or feel differently about themselves based on what minor characters are present.


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 paragraphs below.
Through the school bus window, Unhei looked out at the strange buildings and houses on the way to her new school.  It was her first day, and she was both nervous and excited.  “Are you new here?  What’s your name?” a girl asked.  “Unhei,’ said Unhei.  “Ooh-ney?” the girl asked, scrunching up her face.  “Oooh, ooh, ooh-ney!” some kids chanted.  “No, no, “ Unhei corrected.  “It’s spelled U-N-H-E-I.  It’s pronounced Yoon-hye.” “Oh, it’s Yoo-hey, “ the boy said.  “Like ‘You, hey!’ What about ‘Hey, you!” Just then, the bus pulled up to the school and the doors opened.  Unhei hurried to get off.  “You-hey, bye-bye!” the kids yelled as she left.  Unhei felt herself blush. 

Readers, did you notice in that paragraph that Unhei changed a lot.  In the beginning she is excited about her first day at a new school.  But that quickly changes when she meets so many new students on the school bus.  They cannot pronounce her name correctly so she becomes embarrassed.  I know she is embarrassed because she is blushing which means her face is turning red.  I think that the minor characters, the students on the bus change the way Unhei acts and what she thinks about herself.  Instead of being an excited young girl she is not embarrassed and not sure of herself.

 Guided Practice (5-10 mins) Teacher continues to read aloud and stops at the paragraph below.  Now you try!  Turn and talk to a partner and tell them how you think the students in the classroom affect how Unhei acts in the story. 

Unhei stood in the doorway of her new and noisy classroom.  She was relieved that the kids on the bus had gone to other rooms, but her face still felt red.  “Aren’t you going in?” asked a curly-haired boy with lots of dots on his face.  “You’re the new girl, right?” he asked cheerfully.  Unhei nodded, and before she could walk away, the boy took her hand and pulled her through the door.  “Here’s the new girl!” He announced so loudly that the teacher, Mr. Cocotos, almost dropped his glasses.  Mr. Cocotos thanked him and greeted Unhei.  “Please welcome our newest student,” he said to the class. “She and her family just arrived from Korea last week.”  Unhei smiled broadly and tried not to show her nervousness.  “What’s your name?” someone shouted.  Unhei pictured the kids on the bus.  “Um, I haven’t picked one yet,” she told the class.  “But I’ll let you know by next week.”   As Mr. Cocotos showed her to her desk, she felt many round, curious eyes on her.  “Why doesn’t she have a name?”  she heard someone whisper.  “Maybe she robbed a bank in Korea and needs a new identity” a boy replied.

Independent Practice (15-20 mins) Students return to their seats and complete their own 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 character chart 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: This is a difficult skill because students must infer how characters are feeling in many instances.  It is important to teach inference as a reading strategy before using this lesson.  I noticed many students needed support while reading in their own text because they did not know the character as well as they should.  This lesson can be modified by having a text available for each student to practice with or leveled texts for students to use in groups.

Lesson Resources

Minor Characters Affect Major Characters Chart   Activity


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