Being "In" the Story

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SWBAT independently identifying a character’s emotions, the mood of the story, and the event characteristics by imagining being part of the story.

Big Idea

Add imagining being part of the story to the list of things that help identify a change in the emotional state of the character and/or the story.


Common Core Connection:

This is the final building block for a unit on studying the methods that authors use to communicate the emotional state of their characters and story events to the reader.  Much like the previous lessons in the unit, the ultimate purpose of this lesson is to give the students strategies for examining and evaluating the information that the author is trying to convey to them.  This will require the students take a closer look at text evidence and the events within the story in order to see how they impact the character’s emotions and change the overall mood of the story.

In this final lesson, I wanted to establish events as the common ground that connect the character’s feelings, the surrounding environment, and the general mood of the story. I felt that if I could begin focusing my student's attention on events, or at least give them a sense that the event as the point where everything emotional tends to happen, then I would have given them at least one more strategy which they could use to more confidently evaluate future literary texts.  I felt that this final lesson was best way to tie together a unit of lessons on author's word choice that could meet or exceed 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.


  • Days with Frog and Toad: Shivers, by Arnold Lobel
  •  Being Part of the Story Activity Sheet (teacher created)
  • Xeroxed copies of Days with Frog and Toad: “Shivers”, one per each student pair (not included)


10 minutes

I began this lesson by with reviewing that this week that we had looked very closely at words, word phrases, and illustrations that an author uses to tell the reader of their book how both the characters are feeling, the mood of the story, as well as some of the characteristics of certain events.I then displayed this sentence, I used the day before:

  • “The snowflakes were sparkling in the moonlight as they softly fell upon the faces of my students who were singing songs and skating across the large ice pond.”

I used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to call on students to tell me some of the things that they remembered from this sentence told them about the story.  These students identified that it was winter, nighttime, cold and that my students were happy.  

I then told my students that we would play a word game where I would say a word and whoever I called on would say the first word that came to his/her mind.  I then said, ‘winter,’ and waited 10 seconds before pulling a name out of the magic cup.  This student responded, ‘snow.’  I continued in this manner for the words nighttime, cold, and happy.  These selected students respectively responded sleepy, winter, and having fun. I had the class clap for their outstanding performances and then posed the following question to the 4 students who had answered: “Did you have fun doing this?”  I got a unanimous, "yes." 

I then built the bridge that I was looking for by telling my students that if one little pretend event could make them feel so many different things, then maybe we should take a closer look at other events from another story in order to see what we could discover about events and the author's word choice. The students responded very favorably to that idea.  I then told my students that we would be reading the short story, “Shivers,” from the book  Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel.  I further explained that as I read the story, that they should try their best to imagine themselves inside the story, or as one of the characters, during each event in order to see how it made them feel.  I also explained that in order to get the most enjoyment out of this reading, they would need to listen very carefully to every single word.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

During the guided practice I had my students gather at the rug area.  Once they were seated and ready, I showed them the cover of the text, Days with Frog and Toad, and opened it the short story “Shivers” (pages 26 – 37).  I further told my little ones that “Shivers” was one of my very favorite stories by Arnold Lobel and that they should listen very carefully because they would not want to miss a single moment of it. 

I then read the story fairly slowly to my students, using my best variations in tone to emphasize the words and word phrases.  I also showed them the illustrations and paused at several of the events to ask my students to think about how they were feeling inside the story, as well as taking a little time to talk about how that particular event was affecting the character’s feelings and the mood of the story.  I felt from observing the body language of the students, particularly when I changed the tone of my voice or asked them, “How they were feeling inside the story?” that I had an audience that was totally captivated about how Frog and Toad were going to fair on their little adventure.

When I had completed the reading I asked my students if they were ready to move on to working with their partners in the collaborative activity.  The enthusiasm was in fact readily there and I moved the momentum forward.

Collaborative Activity

20 minutes

I started the activity by having my students’ pair up with their partners.  As I displayed the Being Inside the Story activity sheet on the Promethean board, I explained that much like the previous activities that they did, each partner would take turns reading the questions and then they would work as a team to discuss what would be the best answer choice.  I further explained that the second part of each question that asked how they felt should be their own response. I then passed out the Being Part of the Story Activity Sheet and Xeroxed copies of the story. 

As my little ones began to work I met with each group to make sure they were on task and understood the assignment. This picture of Students on Task is an example of what a class looks like when students are engaged and working together. These two were able to tell me It was a Scary Night because one night one of them heard the wind blow hard.  She was able to share that with her work partner to choose that as an answer choice.

After about 15 minutes, I checked on their progress and, as the slower students finished up, I did what I had done in the earlier lessons by using the magic cup to select partner pairs to share their answers with the class.  The rest of the class responded with a thumb up or down to show they agreed or not (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down).  After each answer, I asked the partners why they had picked it and worked with the class to explain why this or another answer was a good choice.  Once again, I found the overall response from the students to be very positive, especially with the added question that asked them how they felt when they pretended to be inside the story. 

Once finished with this activity, my students began their independent work.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

During this time my students are in their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through ELA activities.  I always include journal writing as one of the activities because it helps my students’ process and apply what skill we are working on. 

To get them started I put the journal prompt on the Promethean board: How does pretending to be a character in the story help you feel what the character feels?

As my students rotated to my differentiated reading group time, I checked their journals for completeness and understanding.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students made a list of all the places in the text that they could find clues about character emotions and story mood.