Helping children understand character traits is an important part of helping children grow as readers.
Here we have created a collection of resources for you to use as you teach character traits in your Reading Workshop. This post begins with the assumption that students are able to identify the main characters in stories. It focuses on resources to help students understand what character traits are, as well as the difference between the physical and character traits of the actual characters in stories. We have added a few organizers at the end that will help your students begin to understand how to compare characters using their knowledge of character traits, as well as identifying and describing how a character might have changed within a story. Click on the red words below for a full download of all the items we created.
You can download the complete, free collection at the bottom of this post by clicking on the bold, red words.
Character Traits Organizer – This organizer is meant to help your students begin thinking about the difference between actual physical traits and internal character traits of the characters in their stories. Model this organizer in front of the class as you ask students to begin to think more deeply about the characters in their stories.
Character Traits Lists – Here are two anchor charts which give your students some ideas for beginning character traits. These will help to move students away from describing their characters using only their appearances and will get them to focus on the personalities of the characters in their stories. We have created two anchor charts so that you can choose the one that is best for your students. You might use both as a means to differentiate among your students.
Character Traits vs. Physical Traits Sorting Cards (with Recording Page) – If you feel some of your students might need more practice with distinguishing between physical and character traits, we have created a set of 36 trait cards for students to sort. These could be used for a mini-lesson, a small guided reading group activity or even a literacy center. We have included a recording page if you want students to write the words they are reading as they sort.
Character Traits Organizers – Here are four graphic organizers you can model for students during mini-lessons to further discuss and/or review character traits. Give them to students during independent reading so that you can talk them over during reading conferences to check for understanding.
Character Traits Exit Tickets – This is a set of three different exit tickets focused on characters. They vary in level so you can use them as you move through your teaching or you can differentiate for the needs of students in your classroom. The first has students simply identifying the main character, the second requires students to identify the main character along with a physical and a character trait, and the third has students identifying a character trait while supporting evidence from their story.
Comparing Characters – This graphic organizer has students using what they’ve learned about the characters’ traits to compare characters from the same story or different stories. As always, model this for students before expecting them to work independently.
Characters Change – We also need to get our students thinking about how characters may change in the fiction stories they read. (This will be the basis for understanding static vs. dynamic characters as their reading level grows.) Choose a book where the main character changes in some way from the beginning to the end (maybe a story where the character learns a valuable lesson and is changed by that lesson). Read the story aloud and model this organizer which will require your students to pinpoint a character’s traits, describe the problem the character faced and decide how the character has changed in the story. Be sure to remind students that not all characters change in stories, so they will need to think carefully about their specific characters in order to be able to complete this organizer.
Story Map – This is a simple story map that includes a review of elements such as main character, setting, problem and solution, but also contains a section for students to list character traits.
You can download the free collection here: Character Trait Resources