How the Events Change the Mood and Tone

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SWBAT identify the words, word phrases and illustrations in a literary text which show a character's emotional state and contribute to the mood of the story.

Big Idea

Move beyond looking at just the character's emotional state and begin examining the mood of the story.


Common Core Connection:

This lesson will continue to build upon my students' ability to examine word, word phrases and illustrations in order to determine the particular characteristics of the story.  The previous three lessons were primarily focused on having my students determine the emotional state of the characters in a literary text.  In today's lesson, my students will also begin examining how the events within a story have a mood or emotional feeling to them as well. The same fundamental areas of interest, single emotion words, word phrases, and illustrations will be the examined once again by my students for the critical clues about what information the author is providing the reader about how the character, as well as the story on the whole, feels.  It is also a jumping off point for students to begin recognizing how the relationship between the characters emotional state and the feeling of the story are intertwined and affect each other.  Finally, this lesson is a good precursor to talking to students about tone.

I remained focused on the one main premise that if I could just get my students to see even the simplest connection link between a character's feelings, the surrounding environment and the general mood of the story, then I would have added a whole new dimension to the way they examine literary texts in the future.  I feel strongly that this incremental approach to layering their understanding of the different ways to determine the characteristics of a story, whether it be an event, a character, or the overall “mood” of the story itself, fit perfectly in tandem with achieving the goals of standards RL.1.4: identify words and phrases in stories of poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses, and L.1.6: use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships.

Lesson Overview:

Going into lesson 4, I wanted to add one more element to the foundation that my students were developing by showing them that they could also use the same 3 elements (words, word phrases, and illustrations) to determine the feeling or mood of the overall story.  I wanted to do this by showing them in a simple way that there is usually a cause-effect relationship between the main character’s feelings and the mood of the story.  To accomplish this, I felt that both the text Small Pig and the teaching method I used in Lesson 3 would be the most advantageous for my students since both were familiar to them already and that in doing so, it would allow them to focus more easily, without any of the usual competing forces, of finding the mood of the story.  I wanted this to feel both natural and transparent to my students so that looking at the mood of the story was just as simple as looking at the feelings of its characters like we did in Lessons 1 – 3. 



10 minutes

I began this lesson by explaining to my students that some stories sound happy because the author uses a lot of words, word phrases, and illustrations that have either happy meanings or happy feelings about them, while other stories sound sad because the author uses a lot of sad words and sad illustrations or pictures.  I further explained that pictures and illustrations are two of the author’s favorite ways of showing the reader how a story felt, just like they are two ways that authors show how their characters feel. 

I then displayed the Power Point, What are you Feeling (see previous section), and used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to call on a student to share with the rest of the class which picture would make a story feel happy and which one would make it feel gloomy?  This student quickly pointed to the sunshine filled day as feeling happy and the dark rainy picture as feeling gloomy.   My other students showed me they agreed by showing a thumb up (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down).  I congratulated them enthusiastically, stating, “See, you’ve just shown me that stories can have feelings (moods) just like the characters in the story do!” 

I thought this was a perfect opportunity to inject the concept of cause-effect and asked the student how he would feel if he was one of my students playing in the sunshine photo and then he had to go and stay inside the house because the storm in the other picture suddenly interrupted his beautiful day.  He said it would make him sad because he would not be able to play.  I then asked him in my most curious voice: “So are you telling me that the mood of the story can change the feelings of the characters?”  The student hesitated for only a few seconds to think about all this and then cautiously replied, “Yes Ms. Collins. I think so.” 

At this point I felt my students were curious to see where this was going, and so I decided to move forward immediately and started the guided practice. 

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I explained to my students, that today’s lesson would be very much like yesterday’s lesson and that we would be continuing with the reading of the adventures of Small Pig.  At that point I picked up the reading of Small Pig and starting on page 24, pausing on every third or fourth page to give an example of changes in the mood or event of the story.  As in the previous lessons, I continued to use my best tonal inflections to draw attention to the key elements and indicators for determining the story's mood

As we finished the reading, I posed the question to the entire class: "How are the character’s feelings and the events related?  What do they have in common?"  Before my students had a chance to answer I reminded them to think back to the illustrations that we looked at earlier with the stormy weather and the beautiful sunny day.  After a brief pause, I told my students to discuss the question with their table partner.  I then used the magic cup to call on two student pairs to share their answers.  I was very pleased that the general consensus was that they both have “feelings.

"How does the author show those feelings in the story?" I asked.  This time the students I called on related back that when the characters looked happy, the pictures looked happier.  When the characters were sad the pictures were sad looking.  I wanted to know what made a picture look happy or sad, so I asked that question.  The students who answered that question stated happy pictures had sunshine, bright colors, and the people were smiling.  In sad pictures there was no sun, dark colors, and no smiles.

Wanting to make sure we were all on the same page, I re-stated: "So the pictures and the characters feelings and emotions are related."  All my students responded “yes.”

I then took it to the next level by asking my students very slowly, “Can an event possibly change both the mood of the story and the feelings of the characters all at the same time?”  After giving them a few seconds for this to settle in, I gave this example: “What if you were playing outside, having a good time, and your mom calls you inside to do your homework.  Calling you in is the event, how will your feelings change?”  This time they all answered back, "mad."

"That’s right," I said, "You would be mad, and, just like a picture clue, events can also change the mood of the character or the story."  I then explained that the most important thing that they had discovered today was how that relationship works both ways, and, as a result of learning about this, they would now be able to look at stories they read in the future in a slightly different way.  They could look for words, word phrases, pictures, and events to help them understand the feelings and emotions of the characters and the story.

Collaborative Activity

20 minutes

After my students were seated with their partner's I displayed the Events Set the Mood and Tone activity sheet on the Promethean board and explained they would work with their partners to figure out the answers to the questions or passages from the story.  I also pointed out that they would have a copy of the story to refer back to if they needed more information than what was given on the activity sheet.  After using the magic cup to select a student to restate the directions, I passed out the Xeroxed copies of pages 24 – 72 of Small Pig and the Events set the Mood and Tone activity sheet to each student.

As my students began to work, I met with each partner pair to check their progress and understanding.  Since they were familiar with this text and the question types they were able to get started quickly.  In order to build student confidence, I have found it important to accept what they tell me in their own words.  These girls in He Looks Scared used the word 'freaking out' to describe the picture.  They told me freaking out means to be yelling and running around.

At the end of 15 minutes, I called my students attention back to the displayed activity sheet on the Promethean Board and used the magic cup to select partner pairs to share their answer with the class.  After each question, I asked for a show of ‘thumb up or down’ to indicate my students agreed with the given answers.  Based upon the large majority of correct responses, I felt that the lesson was a great success.  Equally important to me was the fact that the majority of my students once again truly seemed enjoy this particular type of collaborative activity.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

From there we moved to our independent work where my students are in leveled reading groups and rotate through reading activities every 15 to 20 minutes.  One activity I always include is journal writing.  It is important to me that my students write everyday in their journals because I believe journal writing helps students deepen understanding and apply what they have practiced in the guided and collaborative part of the lesson.  It is important to note that journal writing does not take the place of modeled writing that we do at other points in the day.

The prompt I put on the Promethean board: Explain what parts of the text you can use to help understand the mood of an event in a story.

I check all my students journals when they come to my reading group for leveled reading instruction.  This student's journal (Think About the Words) reflects that he understands the words in the text relate to the mood of the story.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students needed to show me one page from today’s story where the mood changed because an event or a character’s feelings changed.