Identifying story events is a crucial skill for comprehension, retelling, summarizing, and synopsis. It will be a foundational skill that will be used for the rest of a student’s academic career for any literary text. In particular, understanding a problem and solution will provide students with a gateway to understanding various forms of conflict (character vs. character, character vs. nature, character vs. self, etc.) and the motivations of characters and the importance of setting.
Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction:
- This is a unit dedicated to introducing younger students (1st-3rd grades) to identifying and describing story event. You will begin by introducing the “Story Mountain” to help students learn how to identify story events and then describe them. To do this, choose a familiar fairytale such as “Little Red Riding Hood.” There are many versions, but I recommend the James Marshall version, which can be accessed here as a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jeoehj3tn0Q
Here is a more “traditional version” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coj-_tBIm0g
Here is a text to read through. http://pinkmonkey.com/dl/library1/story089.pdf
You could pick any other fairytale that you think your students will be familiar with.
- Prior to reading, draw a triangular shape on chart paper to represent the story mountain that you will be using with the text. Explain, “Today we are going to read/hear ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. As we read the story, I want you to think about what happened in the beginning, the middle, and end of the story. Think about what was the most exciting point. Think about how problems in the story got solved. I’ll need your help to remember these events, because we will need them to fill in ‘Story Mountain’ (gesture to the chart).
- Read or view little Red Riding Hood.
- Ask students to tell you how the story began, what was the problem, the most exciting point, how the problem got solved, and how it ended. Place story events in order for the fairytale, based on student suggestions and your guidance. Place five major moments that reflect the introduction, rising action, climax, resolution, and ending on story mountain, as it looks in the image below.
Introduction: We meet Red Riding Hood and hear that she has to go to her Granny’s house, we hear her mother’s warning.
Rising Action: Little Red Riding Hood meets the Wolf in the woods, and he sends her on the wrong path.
Climax: Little Red Riding Hood confronts Wolf now dressed as Granny. Little Red Riding Hood is attacked by the wolf.
Resolution: Passing hunter saves Red Riding Hood, Grandmother, and kills the wolf.
Ending: Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are safe, Little Red Riding Hood learned her lesson and will obey her mother.
After placing these summaries in the correct places, use another colored marker to write the story event terms above the summaries in a large, bold letters. The chart should look like the image below, with the additional terms for story events.
- Explain to your students that all fictional or literary pieces have these parts. Story mountain is a way of organizing the most important events in a story. Explain that it is important to identify events in stories we read because it improves our comprehension, and allows us to think about conflicts (problems) and solutions, which help us understand the point of the story. Keeping track of story events also helps us understand characters and settings better. Place a note under your story mountain that sets the purpose for keeping track of and identifying story events. A suggestion is: “Identifying story events helps us understand the sequence of the story, the problems and solutions in the story, and helps us understand characters and settings better.”
- Assign your students Activity Page One, which will present them with another story and story mountain. They will work together in partners to complete it.
- As a whole class, review Activity Page One and make sure that most students have a good handle on identifying the basic events. If there are a few who struggle, pull them aside and complete the next activity with them.
- Students complete the practice page independently, or if struggling they may work in a small group with your supervision. They will read a passage and sequence given events to complete story mountain.
- Assign homework, which will be to read a book of choice and create a story mountain with story events from the text they chose. Make sure students bring the book they chose with them when they come in with their homework so you can check to see if the events make sense. Also, emphasize that the story must be fictional!
- Closing Activity: Read a final book of choice as a closing activity. Have students split into two teams after reading. Using markers or chalk, draw two empty “story mountains” on the board. Give each team five large post its or bright pieces of paper and tape. Have them work in teams to complete the five story events discussed in the lesson: intro, rising action, climax, resolution, and conclusion, using the text you just read. Then have teams place them in the correct order on their mountain on the board. Give the Story Events Quiz.
Common Core State Standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.3, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.5 , CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.3
Class Sessions (45 minutes): 3-4 class sessions
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