Character Motivation - Peter Rabbit

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SWBAT determine a character’s motivations by analyzing their actions.

Big Idea

Students work to determine why the characters of Peter Rabbit do what they do.

Modeling and Guided Practice

20 minutes

I told students we were going to read the folktale, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, to review character motivation. I reminded students that character motivation is the reason why a character acts, thinks, or feels a certain way. I posted a list of character motivations on the board and explained that they were examples of motivations. I supplied this list in order to expand their knowledge of different types motivations that can be summed up in one or two words, such as revenge.

We had read the Tale of Peter Rabbit previously, so I modeled how to analyze the actions of Mr. McGregor in order to determine his motivation.  I placed the Character Motivations graphic organizer on the document camera so that all students could follow along. I wrote one of his actions from the story on the left side of the graphic organizer, Mr. McGregor runs after Peter with a sieve and yells “Stop, Thief!” I asked aloud, “What was his motivation for doing this?” I looked at my motivation list for ideas and said, “He was upset that Peter ate the vegetables in his garden. I think his motivation was revenge.” I wrote the motivation on the right side of the graphic organizer.

After modeling a few more examples, I gave each student a two-sided copy of the graphic organizer. I guided them through analyzing the actions and identifying the motivations of Peter’s mother. We paused to discuss as a class what the character’s motivation were for the action. I did this to make sure students gained a clear understanding of the connection between character actions and motive.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

After the guided practice, students worked with a partner to determine the motives of Peter Rabbit by completing the other side of the sheet. (The work from guided practice served a visual example.) I had listed character actions from the story on the left side of the graphic organizer. I intentionally left two sections of the organizer blank. Students were instructed to identify other actions of Peter and determine his motives and write them in the blank sections. The latter required a higher level of thinking from students as they had to identify actions independently, then make the connection to a motive. I walked around the room as students worked, providing assistance as needed.

Note: Students had the option of selecting motives that were not on the poster.


10 minutes

I informally assessed students using a checklist. I reviewed answers on their graphic organizers as they worked. I assessed how proficient they were in correctly identifying a character’s motivations. The criteria was whether they were correct sometimes, always, or never.


5 minutes

To close the lesson, students shared an action and motivation they identified in the story and had written in the blank sections of the graphic organizer. This gave all students the opportunity to hear a range of diverse thinking about the text.