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Lesson Plans
Character Study and Story Elements Comparison
3rd–5th Grade

CCSS Reading/Literature & Writing
  • RL.3.9: Compare and contrast the themes, settings and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series).
  • W.3.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details and clear event sequences.

Materials Needed
  • Read aloud Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes.
  • Encourage students to discuss Lilly’s character traits in both stories, and have them help you fill in the Character Analysis chart.

  1. Tell students you would like them to help you compare the different elements of each story, such as the theme, plot and setting.
  2. As a class, use the Story Elements chart to identify the elements in each story.
  3. Compare and contrast your findings from each story. For example, you might ask:
  • What is the same about the stories’ settings? (Lilly’s classroom and Lilly’s home are settings in both stories.) What is different? (In Lilly’s Big Day, the location of Mr. Slinger’s wedding is also one of the settings.)
  • How are the plots similar? (In each story, Lilly is a little bit angry with Mr. Slinger due to a misunderstanding.) How is the plot different in each story? (In Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Lilly gets in trouble for distracting the class instead of focusing on her lesson. She is mad at Mr. Slinger because she thinks he is mean to her and doesn’t like her, so she draws a mean picture of him. She later feels badly and apologizes. In Lilly’s Big Day, Lilly wants to be a flower girl in Mr. Slinger’s wedding. She is mad because she is told she does not get to be a flower girl, but later she helps the flower girl do a good job at the wedding.)
  • How are the themes the same/different? (Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse centers on the themes of school, self-discipline and forgiveness. Lilly’s Big Day explores themes of hopefulness, frustration and jealousy. Both books deal with the themes of relationships and overcoming disappointment.)
Guided/Independent Practice

  1. Have students create their own creative story about Lilly. (Suggest titles such as Lilly’s Ballet Debut, Lilly’s First Soccer Game, Lilly’s Spelling Test, Lilly’s Art Project, Lilly’s Lost Library Book, Lilly’s Show and Tell Day and so on.)
  2. Before students begin, discuss Lilly’s character traits (e.g., determined, persistent, confident, misunderstood, well-meaning, envious, et al.). Talk about problems that might arise in a variety of settings, and how she might solve them. Ask students:
    • What would an appropriate setting be for this story?
    • What problem in the plot will Lilly overcome?
    • Which other familiar characters might appear in your story?
  3. Have students write and illustrate their stories. Then invite them to share their finished products with the class!

View the 3rd–5th grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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