Character Development Lessons
Character Development • Teaching Suggestions
- Role play:
- News reporter interviews story character and asks the character to explain why s/he choose specific actions and how s/he feels about events and other characters in the story.
- Adopt a character’s personality and interact to a new event in a manner that is consistent with the character developed by the author.
- Write journal entries as a character. The writer is to imagine feelings and actions that might have occurred before the story took place – or after the story ended.
- Create masks for characters where the facial expression on the mask suits the characters’ dominant personality trait.
- Write a poem about a character’s actions and what kind of character s/he was.
- Design an imaginary résumé for one of the story’s characters showing his/her experience and qualifications.
- Write riddles or jokes that reflect a character’s personality.
- Compare and contrast the problem solving abilities of two different characters in the story.
- If a character changed by the end of the story, list reasons that explain why and how the character changed.
- Use a graphic organizer to create a web of a character’s physical and personality traits.
- Character Trading Cards:
- This interactive online site prompts users to type in a character’s appearance, personality, thoughts, feelings, major problem, goal, outcome, actions, interactions, and the student’s likes, dislikes, and personal connections to the character.
- After entering the information the “card” can be printed in full color, cut out, taped together, and a picture of the character may be added to the front of the card.
Character Development • Online Resources
Ohio Instructional Management System
“Punctuating Dialogue - Grade Six”
- In this lesson, students create and accurately punctuate dialogue necessary to help the plot progress, reference setting and develop character.
Ohio Resource Center • Reading
- Scroll to the box that says "I know the ORC resource I want to see," enter the ORC Lesson number, and click "View Resource".
“Charlotte is Wise, Patient, and Caring:
Adjectives and Character Traits,” Grades 3-4
- ORC Lesson# 2773
- In this activity, students apply their knowledge of adjectives as they study characterization. Students locate examples of adjectives in a text, then describe one of the major characters.
“Cinderella Folktales: Variations in Character,” Grades 3-4
- ORC Lesson# 1068
- Although the Disney version is the most popular in America, hundreds of versions of the Cinderella story exist. This resource provides lessons, in which students define the major differences in the characteristics of the heroine (e.g., meek, assertive) in a variety of Cinderella tales.
“Planning Story Characters Using Interactive Trading Cards,”
- ORC Lesson # 6440
- This lesson uses trading cards of fictional characters to support students' literacy development in writing narrative texts. Students begin by exploring popular picture books, noting how authors develop the characters in these stories.
“Bright Morning: Exploring Character Development in Fiction,”
- ORC Lesson# 1337
- This lesson teaches characterization through Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell; however, any fictional text (even picture books) that all students have read or heard can be adapted to fit the lesson. Thinking about how an author writes to make a character "come alive" in a piece of literature is the focus of this lesson.
“What a Character!” Grades 4-6
- ORC Lesson# 2305
- This lesson features methods in which students learn strategies for developing strong characters in their own writing. Students are guided through a series of pre-writing activities as they complete a character sketch.
“Lights, Camera, Action: Interviewing a Book Character,”
- ORC Lesson# 2838
- During a novel study, students closely examine the different characters in the text by keeping journal entries, meeting for group discussions, and using graphic organizers. This extensive character examination is designed to help them to prepare a final project that involves creating an interview-style television show.
“Beyond the Story: A Dickens of a Party,” Grades 6-8
- ORC Lesson# 2758
- To complete this lesson, students are invited to attend a 19th Century party playing the role of a character from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. To play this role, students must understand the values and customs Dickens' characters represented in Victorian society.
“Story Character Homepage,” Grades 6-8
- ORC Lesson# 1389
- This lesson effectively combines collaborative work, deep analysis of a character, and integration of technology. Working in small groups, students analyze a character from a piece of fiction and create a website to represent their interpretation of that character.
“Truman Capote: Other Voices, Other Rooms,” Grades 6-8
- ORC Lesson# 1189
- Character development is the primary focus of this lesson, which uses Truman Capote's short story, "A Christmas Memory," as the basis for a character study. Teachers initiate the activity by leading a discussion about the plot and the main character of the short story.
“Press Conference for Bud, Not Buddy,” Grades 6-8
- ORC Lesson# 3814
- This lesson can be used after the reading of Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. The lesson encourages students to use higher-level thinking skills, and asks them to examine different character perspectives. Students demonstrate comprehension of the story by actively involving themselves in group and whole-class discussions. Information about the author contributes to their understanding of historical fiction. By further analyzing the characters in preparation for a class "press conference," students better understand the characters' impact in the story. The development and responses to critical-thinking questions leads to deeper understanding of the story.
Other Online Resources
- “Using Picture Books to Teach Characterization in Writing Workshop”
- “Characterization” by Manning, Maryann. Look Smart Article,
May 2001, Teaching PreK-8
- “Understanding Character” This site has downloadable PDF files:
- “The Art of Storytelling: Who Are Your Main Characters?”
Because of Mama: Creating a Short Film
- “Creating Original Characters, Themes, and Visual Metaphors
for Your Digital Short Film”
Jesse Owens • Follow-up Activities
Research these historical figures:
- Adolph Hitler
- Where is Berlin, Germany?
- What happened to Berlin during World War II?
- How did Hitler’s Germany treat athletes who were non-Ayran during the 1936 Olympics?
- Jesse Owens
- Did Jesse Owens ever work as a delivery boy?
- Does the tall tale reflect Jesse Owens’s true feelings about being an Olympic athlete?
Categorize figurative language from the “Jesse Owens” episode:
- Jesse kept running even though his feet felt like heavy rocks and his arms like metal sledge hammers.
- Jesse moved so fast he was able to pick up each member of the boss's family and take them out of harms way.
- Jesse moved like a blur, then like wildfire, he rocketed out like a missile. [He] picked up speed and moved like lightening.