Third graders tend to respond that the character is either happy or sad when asked how they think they feel even if there is no evidence of this in the text. This lesson will help students refer to the text to determine character feelings.
I told students we were going to talk about a character's feelings. I explained that just like real people have feelings, characters in the stories we read have feelings, too. I passed out a Feelings Faces sheet and gave students a few minutes to color in their feelings. I asked students to share why they felt the way they did and how could someone tell that they were feeling that way. What clues do they give? I did this to help students make the real world connection to feelings.
I explained that we were going to identify Lilly's feelings in different situations in the story, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. We can identify her feelings using evidence from the text through words, actions, and illustrations. Each student had a Character Feelings chart and Feeling Words sheet. The chart helped them document character feelings with evidence from the text. The feeling words sheet gave them a variety of feelings to choose from other than happy and sad.
I conducted a Think Aloud (TA) as I modeled filling in the chart I created on large chart paper. After a few examples, students completed the chart with me. I gave them time to identify a feeling of the character and provide evidence from the text through words, actions, and/or illustrations.
Sample Script: Hmm, I think Lilly feels furious here. I think that because...using evidence from the text, it says that Lilly is ANGRY and it's written in all capital letters. An action that shows Lilly is furious is she draws a mean picture of Mr. Slinger and puts it in his bag. All of these things together let me know that Lilly is indeed furious. I'm going to write is here on the chart along with the situation and evidence from the text.
I also modeled selecting a feeling that did not have evidence from the text to emphasize they should only select feelings that was supported by evidence.
Now it was time for students to practice the strategy on their own with the story we had been been reading, Mulan. Each student had their Character Feelings chart and Feeling Words sheet. They referred back to the teacher chart if they needed an example. They also had their copy of the story Mulan. They were placed in groups of four. Each group was given a blank Character Feelings chart. Students alternated generating character feelings for Mulan and filling in the chart. I selected one student to go first and they continued around the group clockwise.
Students assessed each other during this activity because they are checking each other's evidence. They had four opportunities to check a character's feelings within the text, deciding if it was correct or incorrect.