What are story elements?
There are 5 story elements; characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. When teaching kindergarten we have found it is better to use beginning, middle and ending of a story instead of plot. We also use problem and solution instead of conflict and resolution.
- Characters – people and/or animals in the book
- Setting – when and where the story takes place
- Plot – the events of the story or beginning, middle and ending of the story
- Problem – the problem the main characters have in the story
- Solution – how the problem in the story is solved
How to Teach Story Elements
Teaching story elements is very important in Kindergarten, and we teach them throughout the school year.
Beginning Middle and End
We start out by teaching our students about the beginning, middle, and end of a story. As we read a story, we stop after reading the beginning and ask them what has happened in the story so far. We tell them, “That was the beginning of the story.” We continue reading and stop again before we get to the end, and say, “That was the middle of the story. The middle of the story is the longest part. What happened in the middle of the story?” We assist them in putting the events they tell us in order. Finally, we read the end of the story and discuss the ending with our students. To help guide their discussion, we often use sentence starters such as At the end of the story.
Story Elements Graphic Organizer
After reading a couple of books and discussing beginning, middle and ending with students, we use a graphic organizer to draw and/or write about the different parts. We always model this for our students before having them do this on their own. As we are reading the book, we stop after each section, discuss it with them and then draw on our graphic organizer before reading the next part. Being able to tell a story in sequential order is a big concept for kindergarten students, so we do this activity a few times a month throughout the entire year. By the end of the year, students fill the story elements worksheet out by themselves after we’ve read the story to them.
Characters and Setting
Students usually understand characters and setting pretty quickly, but it’s still important to go over. We do this by reading a book and telling our students that the characters are the people and/or animals in the story (or any objects that talk). We tell them the setting is where the characters are in the story; (Are they inside? Are they outside?…) Using character and setting worksheets can help you to make sure the students are grasping these concepts. Some books we have used that highlight settings are Elmer by David McKee (jungle setting) and The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (ocean setting).
Problem and Solution
The problem and solution of the story are taught when we teach beginning, middle and end. We teach our students the problem is usually found at the beginning of the story. Likewise, the solution is usually found at the end of the story.
Putting It All Together
After teaching the 5 story elements, we spend a couple of weeks comparing different versions of the same story to make sure our students understand all the elements. Our favorite picture books for teaching story elements are The Three Little Pigs and The Gingerbread Man books. There are lots of different versions of both of these stories! We start by reading the regular version of The Gingerbread Man and discuss all five story elements. The next day we bring out a different version of the same story and talk about the similarities and differences. Our students loved reading the different versions! After reading all of the stories, our students chose their favorite version.
Story Elements Anchor Chart
As we compared the stories, we used a story elements anchor chart to record the elements. This helped us to see the similarities and differences of the stories we were reading, but it also helped students to solidify their knowledge on story elements. We didn’t chart all of the elements, but we certainly discussed them.
Story Elements Worksheets
You can access the worksheets seen throughout this blog here. They are great for kindergarten and 1st grade students.
Story Elements Video
This Jack Hartmann video is great when teaching story elements. Your kids will be singing along in no time!
Often times story elements are referred to as text features of fiction texts. Our blog, What are Text Features? How to Teach Them to Kids, explains all about text features and describes the difference between these two concepts.