Setting is usually a very easy story element to cover. Students have a fairly good grasp on how to determine the setting. However, they often forget to include time as part of the setting description. They also might struggle when they have to infer where the story took place.
To begin the lesson, I ask them to take out their white boards and markers. I ask them to think about all of the stories they have read, not movies, and write down the settings they have come across. They are going to get one minute to write down as many settings as they can come up with.
When I say go, they all frantically begin to write. When they here stop, I get groans. Immediately a student shouts out how many they came up with. I tell him that is awesome, but I am not looking for the most I am looking for ones that might be different from everyone else.
I ask if anyone has ever played Scattergories and only a few had. I explain that we will share our settings with each other. If another student has that same setting, we have to erase them off our board. If no one has the setting, then you get to circle it for a point.
The excitement and eagerness to share is overwhelming. It is fun and they love it.
The excitement from the game lingers, and I want to use the positive engagement toward the next part. I explain that I am going to read a story that is similar to the Three Little Pig comparing we did in a previous lesson. While I am reading, I want them to compare the characters in their head and also try to determine the setting for the story.
The book I am going to read is The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. In it the characters are the same from the comparing characters lesson. I also chose the book because the author throw in a unique setting twist.
With the story complete, I ask them to first tell me about the setting. They all recognize the setting for the pigs houses, of course they are the obvious ones and are familiar. I ask them about the narrator, and they realize that the wolf is narrating his own story. I then ask, "What is the setting for where he is narrating from?" This takes a minute and they all begin to think. I tell them that it is not obvious because the author only inferred where he was. Finally, a student realizes that the wolf was in jail. Many students are shocked and make the connection once they know.
This is when I discuss that the setting might not always be obvious and we might have to infer time and place. To end the discussion, I ask them to compare the characters to the other books. This is fun to listen to because the character traits all change when the wolf makes himself a victim.