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Teaching Plot

Shelley Frost
teaching plot

Teaching plot asks the kids to focus on the main details that make up the action in the story. Using a variety of plot activities helps the kids gain a better understanding of plot.

Plot Basics

In its simplest form, the plot is basically what happens in the story. It seems simple enough, but kids often have difficulty picking out the important elements of the story that make up the plot. The plot consists of a certain set of events that propel the reader through the story. Teaching the kids these parts of the plot helps them identify the important events in the story.

  • Exposition: This is the introductory information that is needed to understand the story.
  • Rising Action: This component is the conflict that kicks off the action in the story.
  • Climax: As its name insinuates, this is the point in the story where the action and conflict comes to a peak.
  • Resolution: The conflict in the story is resolved to end the story.

Graphic Organizers for Plot

Graphic organizers are a useful teaching tool for many different concepts. Graphic organizers for teaching plot help the students break down the story events. Scholastic has some great printable graphic organizers for plot or you can create your own.

Plot Diagram

A plot diagram is a line that mimics the action in the story. The beginning of the line is typically fairly straight as the plot is introduced. As the rising action is introduced and the climax nears, the line moves up to a point much like a mountain. The line then moves down toward the resolution. The students fill in the details specific to the story they are reading on the plot diagram.

Timeline

A timeline is another visual aid used to document the plot. Instead of a line that moves up and down, a timeline is simply a straight line on the paper. The student starts at the left side of the line with the beginning of the story. The major events including the rising action and climax are marked chronologically on the timeline. The right end of the timeline is where the conclusion of the story is located. A timeline helps the child see the cause and effect that creates the plot of the story.

Flow Chart

Flow charts use a series of boxes and arrows to depict the flow of the plot. You can create a template for the flow chart or let kids draw their own boxes and arrows on a plain piece of paper. The beginning of the story is placed in the first box. Subsequent events in the story are added in other boxes. The boxes are connected with arrows to show that one event led to the next.

Other Activities for Teaching Plot

Using a variety of activities for teaching plot gives students several opportunities to solidify their understanding of the concept.

Comic Strips

A comic strip tells the basic plot of a story with words and pictures. Condensing an entire story into a comic strip requires students to identify the key plot elements. After identifying the major plot points, the students draw a series of comic strip boxes, placing one event in each box.

Story Soup

Story soup shows kids that the parts of the plot work together to create the plot much like individual ingredients go together to create soup. The general components of the story are identified. This will typically include the characters, setting and the different parts of the plot. After reading a story, the kids identify these different components. Write each part of the story on a separate recipe card and place it into a large cooking pot. After doing the group story soup, have each child create his own story soup for a different book. Each child takes a turn teaching the other kids her "recipe" for the book by sharing the plot elements as she places them in the pot.

Plot Lessons

Teaching plot helps kids better comprehend the story and its structure. It also aids them with their own story writing. Using a mixture of plot teaching strategies gives the kids lots of practice at identifying plot elements in a story.

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Teaching Plot