Nov 1, 2012

What A Character!

We've been learning about characters in stories and really going in depth with their traits, which is such an entertaining unit!  There's so many fun lessons and activity ideas out there.  What I noticed though, is that while they were fun...and cutesy...many of them didn't actually help the kids understand the characters to a deeper level.  I wanted my kids to really know the characters, to base their knowledge on specific things the author wrote, and to get a better picture of the character as a multi-dimensional person.  This way they will be able to understand why a character reacts the way they do or says the things they say - to make better inferences about the characters. (I think I've used the word "character" twenty times in three sentences!)  So...

We started off by learning what their thinking should be like as they read about a new character.
I modeled this during our read-aloud of Sleepy Hollow.  When the author introduced a new character, I would stop and mime grabbing a box off a shelf and putting it in my brain.  Each time something new was said about that character, I'd stop and repeat the author's phrase, picture (out loud) something to go along with the author's detail, and put the word and picture in my "mental box".

Finally, the kids made their own origami character boxes!  Whenever we read about a new character in Sleepy Hollow, they make a new box and label it with the character's name.  As I read, they write and draw the traits described and put it in the corresponding character's box.

I'm amazed at how well they remember details about each one!

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