How to Teach Characters and Setting to Kindergarten Students

Teaching literary elements such as setting and characters may seem advanced for kindergartners, but lessons that capture their imagination and creativity provide a solid introduction to these concepts and help them to better understand their favorite stories. Using artistic and critical thinking activities, you can teach students the importance of character and setting in stories, as well as build a foundation for reading and writing classes.

1 Create a Character

Creating original characters of their own can help students practice identifying the emotional and physical details of characterization. Have students brainstorm attributes of their fictional characters, such as what they look like, what activities they enjoy, their friends and family and things they're afraid of. They can then draw pictures of their characters in familiar settings such as their favorite outdoor spots, jobs or homes. To put these lessons into action, have a class party where students wear homemade costumes and pretend to be the characters they've invented.

2 Picture Book Puzzles

Story time is a kindergarten staple, but you can also use it to teach literary elements like character and setting. Before you read the book, show children the cover and flip through the pages, and then ask them what they think the setting is based on the pictures. As you read, stop to ask students questions about the central characters, such as their feelings and reactions to the events. When the story is over, talk about what kind of people the students think the main characters are and ask them to give evidence from the story that illustrates these traits.

3 Put on a Puppet Show

Acting out the stories of favorite books with puppets can help students understand the vital roles of characters and settings. Students can make puppets by drawing the characters from their favorite books, and then cutting out the drawings and gluing them to wooden ice cream sticks. They can create scenery by drawing backdrops of the settings in the book and fastening them to puppet theaters made of cardboard boxes. As a culmination of the activity, students can volunteer to perform scenes from their books for the rest of the class.

4 Classroom Makeover

To make setting more than just background drawings on the pages of a picture book, bring the story to life by transforming your classroom into the setting of a favorite story. Reread the book as a class and brainstorm what significant features of the setting you should incorporate into the room. If your class is reading "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss, for example, you might create the Lorax's town by making your own Truffula trees out of tissue paper and cardboard.

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.