Story Elements


Identifying story elements 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 progression of a story (denouement, rising action, climax, resolution,etc.).

Story Elements Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Story Elements
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice on identifying Story Elements
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 1-3 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Identifying story elements is a crucial skill for storytelling, summarizing, retelling and synopsis. This lesson guides teachers through a process to help their students identify story elements using a known story like, Little Red Riding Hood. Activities are provided so students can then practice identifying story elements on their own.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. This is a unit dedicated to introducing younger students (1st-3rd grades) to identifying and describing story elements. Begin with 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:

Here is a more “traditional version” :

Here is a text to read through.

You could pick any other fairytale that you think your students will be familiar with.

  1. After reading, say to your students “Tell me about the people in this story?” Have the students tell you about Little Red Riding Hood, Grandmother, The Big Bad Wolf, etc. As students describe each person in the story, write the name and brief description on a piece of chart paper. When you’ve finished writing their descriptions, write the word “Characters” at the top of the paper. Say, “You’ve just named and described the people in the story. Those are called the characters in a story. The characters are one of the most important parts of the story. Now tell me about the places in the story.” Have the students describe the places, Grandma’s cottage, the woods, etc. Write the names of places and descriptions on another piece of chart paper. Label it “Setting”. Explain “The places in the story are called the ‘setting’. The characters and the setting are important in all stories, without those two items, a story will not make any sense.”
  2. After discussing character and setting, take a third piece of chart paper and divide it down the middle, leaving space for headings at the top. Ask the students, “In ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ what was the problem?” Write down a brief summary, such as “Red Riding Hood didn’t obey her mother and got tricked by the Big Bad Wolf, then the wolf attacked her grandmother, and later attacked her.” Ask students “How was the problem solved?” Write down the summary statement on the other side of the chart paper, such as “The problem was solved when a passing hunter came in and rescued Little Red Riding Hood, killed the wolf, and freed the grandmother.” Label the two sides of the chart “Problem” and “Solution” (you may also use “Conflict/Resolution” depending on the age and sophistication of your students).
  3. Say to your students, “All of these parts of a story are called ‘story elements’. Characters, setting, problem and solution are things that all stories must have.” Helps students set a purpose for locating story elements by asking, “Why do you think it is important to notice these elements of a story?” After discussion from students, sum up by saying, “To understand any story you must be able to identify all these story elements. Without them, stories do make sense or have a point.”
  4. Create an anchor chart for story elements.
    Story Elements
    Story Elements are Important because…

    They help stories make sense.

    They give stories direction and a point.


    There are FOUR major story elements to know:

    Characters: The people/animals who play important roles in the story.

    Setting: The places in the story where the action takes place.

    Problem: The difficult situation or event that character have to face.

    Solution: The way the characters solve the problem or move past the difficult situation.



  5. Assign Activity Page 1, and have your students a passage to read together in partners or small groups. Have them complete the story elements chart. Go over the charts with students once all have completed, and allow students to self-correct.
  6. Assign the Practice Page where students will independently read and complete a short passage and story elements chart. Walk around the class to support students as needed. Collect assignment to grade at the end of the time allotted.
  7. Assign the homework page, where students will read a book of choice and complete a story elements chart. Students will hand in the assignment the following day, and can share in small groups prior to handing in to the teacher so they can discuss the story elements of their respective books.
  8. Have students complete a closing activity where they meet in small groups of four. They will each have a task card with a small passage on it. (copy the task cards and you can have multiple groups use the same card). Each person in the group will be responsible for identifying one story element. Have the groups rotate until groups have gotten to use all four task cards.
  9. Have student complete the story elements quiz.

Common Core State Standards:


Class Sessions (45 minutes): 3-4 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Many more teaching resources in Download!

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Additional information

Grade Level

1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade