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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Traits Vs. Feelings

I don't know about you, but my students have the hardest time differentiating between character traits and feelings. After scouring many (and more) blogs, Pinterest boards, TPT stores, and anywhere else I could think of, I left empty handed. Oh, I found plenty of great stuff, but none of it was exactly what I was looking for. So I combined a few great ideas I discovered with a little of my own to come up with a series of mini-lessons on character traits vs. feelings.

I started with an anchor chart...

I love anchor charts, and I am a believer that you have to make them with the students, otherwise they just become one more poster that is never really used. We started our lesson with the obvious--physical traits. After adding it to the chart, they shared the physical traits of a character in their literature circle books.

The bulk of the lesson, however, was spent on personality traits, a much more subtle and difficult concept. We listed traits, then antonyms to make our list even longer. I discovered that this was as much a vocabulary lesson as it was comprehension! They then had to go on a book hunt for characters with particular personality traits from any book they've already read or are currently reading.

Next, we listed feelings, and compared them to traits. It took quite a bit of discussion, but students came up with feelings as being temporary things based on situation, and traits being more permanent...who a character is as a person...while they may change gradually over time.

Finally, (my favorite part), prove it! If you claim a character to be brave, you need to cite evidence to prove your claim. Insert...opinion and persuasive writing!

Today we followed up with a character comparison Venn diagram as a literature circle response activity. We will be working on written responses (citing evidence of traits), and make character trading cards (similar to baseball cards).

I have a freebie of the primary version of these character trading cards at my TPT store:

Intermediate versions are all part of a literature unit. Here is one for a book one of my literature circles is reading right now:

The Mouse and the Motorcycle Literature Unit


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    1. I couldn't agree more! Character traits are so challenging for so many students. When I ask my students about a character's traits I often only get the answer "happy, sad or angry." It can be so difficult to get them to think beyond this. One thing I love doing is use short video clips to talk about character traits. My favorites are the Mickey Mouse short cartoons that can be found on Disney's website or youtube. So often there is little talking in these clips and students really need to take to heart that you must look at a characters words AND actions to determine their traits! Thanks for your great freebie! I love the trading cards!

      My Life At The Pencil Sharpener

  2. Thanks for the ideas! I'll have to check out the cartoons. My kids will love that!

  3. Thank you for the freebie! My students will have fun analyzing characters with the trading cards. I am also a lover of anchor charts. They are so helpful for those visual learners! I love the blog and look forward to future posts!

  4. You're welcome! Enjoy the trading cards :)

  5. Character traits are a difficult concept for first graders. They always want to look at the character and describe them on the outside. It's a work in progress. :-) Thanks for the trading cards!

  6. They're even tough for my 5th graders!