Looking at the Characters

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SWBAT describe the appearance and actions of the main story characters.

Big Idea

We're different, but in a lot of ways we're the same!


As I mentioned in the first lesson of this unit, it can be frustrating creating common core aligned lessons while being regulated by pacing guides and non-common core materials. Supplementing the anthologies with read a-louds and informational texts is one way to do this.  Another way is to look closely at the common core standards and re-read the anthology with "new eyes" through the lens of common core.  As I prepare this lesson the pacing guide says I should be reading Lost! by David McPhail.  This story depicts a deep friendship between a little boy and a bear lost in the city.  It lends itself to not only describing the characters and setting, but to understanding the relationship of the boy and the bear as they experience the events that lead to finding the bear's home.

Common Core Connection:

To prepare my students to meet the rigors of CCR.R.3: analyzing how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text, the lessons that follow in this unit will focus on RL.1.3.  Through reading, class discussions, collaborative activities, and independent journal writings my students will have several opportunities during the week to explore and analyze the characters and events.

Lesson Overview:

In today's lesson my students will read and explore the anthology selection, Lost! by David McPhail, and will describe the appearance and actions of the two main characters.


Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 7: We Can Work it Out, Lost!, by David McPhail

Story Vocabulary PowerPoint (teacher created)

Boy and Bear Cards (teacher created)

Picture the Character Activity Sheet: www.fcrr.org


5 minutes

Once my students were situated on their rug squares I showed them yesterday’s read-aloud, It’s the Bear! by Jez Alborough.  I then gave them a moment to partner share to answer the following questions:

  • Who were the main characters? (Eddie and the bear)
  • How did they feel about each other? (They were afraid of each other)

When they were finished sharing I used the magic cup to select one partner group to share with the class what their answers were.  While the students were sharing their answers the rest of the class showed me a thumb up or down if they agreed or not.

Once we finished this review I told my little ones that today they would read the anthology Lost! by David McPhail.  I also explained that as they read they were to pay close attention to the characters in the story.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

From there we took a stretch and my students walked to their desks imitating a bear.  Even this late in the school year First graders need plenty of opportunities to stretch.  Adding a movement, such as imitating a bear, while moving from rug to chair gives students an opportunity to be creative, and helps motivate kinetic learners.

Once at their desks with their anthologies out I gave my students a moment to look at the title page and pictures in the story.  When they finished looking at the pictures I gave them a moment to share with their table partner what they thought the story will be about.  (Both of these activities help familiarize students with the story).  I then used the magic cup to select one partner pair to tell the class what they thought this story will be about.  Because this was our first reading of Lost! I displayed some of the new story vocabulary words on the Promethean board, so that my students would be familiar with how the new words look in print and to help my English Language Learners familiar with the meanings of the words.

Once we were finished previewing the text, I used the magic cup to select students to read, reminding my students that as their friend read they were to nod their head “yes” when the reader did a good job, or shake their head “no” if the reader needed help. 

When we had finished reading I gave my students a moment to think about the characters, then partner share to answer these questions:

  • Who are the characters in this story? (The Boy and The Bear)
  • How would you describe the boy and the bear? (The Boy had blond hair and was helpful.  The Bear was big and scared)

After they finished sharing I used the magic cup to select a partner pair to tell the class how they answered the questions.  The rest of the class showed me they agreed or disagreed with a thumb up or down.

Collaborative Activity

20 minutes

When my students were finished sharing we moved into our collaborative activity.  To begin this activity I had the "Helper of the Day" choose a face down card that had a picture of a boy or bear on it.  Seeing what card he selected determined what character his half of the classroom would describe.  

Once it was established which half of the room was going to describe which character I gave them the directions to the activity.   I displayed the Picture the Character Activity sheet on the Promethean and explained that they were to draw a picture of their character in the picture frame and write or label the appearance, character traits, and/or actions of their character on the picture frame. 

I then used the magic cup to select one student to repeat the directions to the class.  Once I was satisfied they all understood the directions I passed out their Activity sheets, and modeled how to start by writing the title and author in the correct spaces and drawing a 'stick figure' in the picture frame. then on one frame side I wrote skinny (I did this so no one would copy mine).  I gave them about ten minutes to finish.  As my students worked I circled around the room to answer questions and to make sure everyone was working on this activity.  For my students who finished early I directed them to draw a picture on the back of the boy and the bear in the city.

At the end of the ten minute time I directed my students who sit on the right side of the desks to stand up and switch seats with another student standing up on the other side of the room, so that each partner pair would have one boy and one bear.  At this time I wanted them to share with their seat partners what they wrote about their character, I modeled how it would sound when they were sharing.  I then directed them to share with their new table partners what they drew and wrote to describe their character.

At the end of the work time I pulled the group back together and used the magic cup to select one partner pair to read their activity sheets to the class.  The rest of the class showed me a thumb up or down if they agreed or not.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

At this point we moved into our differentiated guided reading rotation block, where my students rotate through various ELA activities (word study, fluency, journal writing, etc.).  In today’s journal my students were to use their activity sheets and what their partner told them to describe the boy and the bear.

The three videos feature students from my most independent reading group, almost independent group, and working toward almost independent group.  They had the ideas but were not quite finished with their work.

For my beginning students I put this prompt on the Promethean board: In the story Lost! the boy _____________.  The bear ______________.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

To get a sticker my students had to tell me two details about the boy and bear.