Who? Where? What?

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Students will be able to identify characters, setting and a major event from a story.

Big Idea

Listening to a Native American tale about the moon, followed by acting out some character’s emotions, helps students recall characters, setting and a major event.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell them they are going to watch a short video about shadows.

“Boys and girls today I am going to show you a very short video about the phases of the moon.”

“Can anyone tell me why we are going to watch a video about the phases of the moon?”

I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand and waiting to be called on.

“Nice one Joshua; we are learning about the phases because we read about a book about the moon yesterday.”

“Can anyone recall one fact they learned about the moon yesterday?”

Again I select two or three students who are following the correct protocol of raising their hand and waiting to be called upon.

“Those were good facts. Let’s go ahead and watch our short video clip. Remember to use your good observing skills to see what new information you can learn.” By telling the students to use their “good observing skills,” I am reminding them to listen for new information and to watch for interesting facts.


I use this short video clip to arouse their curiosity and set them up with some prior knowledge before reading the book about the moon. Having some prior knowledge will help the students begin to make sense of what is about to be read to them. Watching the video can also help them decode unknown vocabulary words we may come across during group reading.


When the short video clip is over I have the student stand-up and stretch, touch their hand to their opposite foot and then switch sides to help wake up both sides of their brain. Then I ask them to sit back down on their spot. 


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called How the Moon Regained Her Shape. The story is written by Janet Ruth Heller and illustrated by Ben Hobson.”

“A long, long, time ago people did not have the scientific tools that we have today. Many naturally occurring phenomena, such as the sun rising and setting and the moon changing shape over time, seemed strange and people wanted explanations. So the elders or wise men made-up stories which explained the changes in the world; these stories were then passed down from generation to generation and became what call folklore.”

“This story is a Native American folktale which explains the phases of the moon to the people. While we are reading this story I want you to pay close attention to the different characters and the setting of the story.”

“Can anyone tell me what a character is?” 

I will select a student who is following the correct protocol to respond to the question.

“That’s right Rachel; a character is someone or something that is part of the story.”

“Now can anyone tell me what a story setting is?”

Once again I choose a student who is following the correct protocol.

“Nice one Emily; the setting is where a story takes place.”

“Okay let’s go ahead and read our folktale.”


During reading I will stop and discuss new vocabulary words such as twirled, tormented, sliver, dwindling, restore, taunt, etc. We will discuss all of the new vocabulary words as this would take long and interrupt the flow of the story. I would also risk losing the attention of some of my audience members’ focus which can lead to behavior issues.  


When I have finished reading the book I will ask the student, “Who can tell me the name of the main character in this folktale?”

I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question.

“I can tell you were paying attention Shelby; the moon is the main character.”

“Now who can give me the name of another character in our folktale?”

I will select enough students to respond to cover as many characters from the story as possible.

“Those were all great response. You were listening very well to the story.”

“Here is a tricky question for you – what is the setting of our folktale – in other words where did our story take place?”

“Awesome Owen; our story does have two locations. The story started in the sky but then moved to Earth and then back up to the sky; very well done.”

It is important for students to understand the story elements because understanding story elements helps a student build connections to the text which aids in comprehension. If a reader is able to discriminate which character is the main character they can then begin to recognize how the character changes throughout the story. This helps in later readings where the student will be asked to determine who are the protagonist and the antagonist in classic literary texts.

Story settings can affect the characters of a story so being able to determine where the story is taking place can assist with comprehending how the character is feeling or acting.

Finally recognizing the major events in a story leads to being able to distinguish where the rising action occurs, the climax and the falling action which changed the protagonist from the beginning of the story to the end.  


“Boys and girls to help us recall some of the tales events I am going to have you become actors. Everyone please stand up and get ready to enter the folktale of How the Moon Regained Her Shape.”


Please watch the video to see the acting routine we follow to aid in student comprehension.


Once the acting routine is over I have the students take a seat around the edge of the rug.  

Edge of the Rug Song


“Now that we have come back to the classroom I want to let you know what you will be doing at integrated work station time.”

“Today you are going to work on recalling the characters, setting and a major event form our folktale. You will use this recording sheet to write down your responses.” I hold up a copy of the recording sheet and read each section. This helps my visual and auditory learners understand what they will be required to do once they get to this work station. Story Setting and Events Recording Sheet

“First you will write the name of the main character and draw him or her. Next you will choose four other characters from the story who you think were important to the story. Once you have done that turn the paper over and draw where the story took place – label it if you can. The last thing you will do is write one major event from the story and support your statement with an illustration.”

“Now remember I will be using a checklist to go over your work to make sure you have followed the directions you were given. Did the student write their name on their work? Is there a name and a picture of the main character? Are there other character names and pictures? Is there a picture and label of the story setting? Is there a picture and label of an event? Is the student’s work neat and tidy?”

After I have gone quickly over the checklist I ask, “Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some character, setting and event fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 20 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me their favorite character and also their place where the character appeared in the story.  

“Today’s exit ticket is you have to tell me your favorite character from the story as well as one place where in the story your character appears.”


I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her favorite character they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help remind them of the characters in the story, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on coming up with a character together.


I use the Story Elements Checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objectives of the lesson. I am looking to see if the student is able to accurately determine what the story elements are. 

High Student front            High Student back

Middle Student front         Middle Student back

Low Student front             Low Student back

Discussing student work


Students can use the story segment cards to put the story in order. This helps the students to recall the story which in turn helps with retelling; retelling a story aids in comprehension.

Story Retell Aid


Students will work on putting the phases of the moon in order and label the phases with the correct tag. 


The next morning I will put out a "Phases of the Moon" worksheet to see if students can recall what the phases of the moon are called. They will need to cut out the tags and label the pictures correctly.

Moon Phases Morning Work