Teaching Character Development with Character Traits and Conflict

Want a quick, free, no-prep Character Development lesson to do with your kiddos? I have something simple that can be used with any grade level and any book to identify character traits and conflict within the text!

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Character Development: Collecting Character Traits

During my 5th Grade Reading Small Group we are reading Where the Wild Things Are. We started the week off by reading the book and brainstorming character traits to describe Max. We used index cards to collect all of the character traits that we came up with (I’ll talk about text evidence in a bit). Once we had all of our character traits, I passed out the cards to the students. They had to work as a group to create an order for the character traits. If there were synonyms, we grouped those together. This helped us to see how the character developed throughout the story. Here is an example of what the students came up with:

Character Conflict

Once students put character traits in sequential order, we discussed Conflict. We focused on two types of conflict: Character vs Character and Character vs Self. We identified conflict in the story. Then we used sticky notes and decided where the conflict took place on our character timeline. Here are a couple of examples: Max and his mother had conflict when Max was disrespectful and got sent to his room. Max experienced internal conflict when he was King of the Wild Things, but was lonely. Max and the Wild Things had conflict when he was confident he needed to go home to end his loneliness but they disagreed with his decision.

After we discussed and placed our conflict sticky notes on our timeline, students were responsible for explaining the conflict in their own words. Each student had an index card that they folded in half. Finally, students gave an example of Character vs Self and Character vs Character conflict from the story.

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Citing Text Evidence

How about that text evidence? Here’s how we did it. We used sticky notes to locate evidence for the character traits that we brainstormed. Those sticky notes were placed inside of the book. In addition to that, the sticky notes could also be added to the character trait timeline. After our conflict lesson, we placed our conflict sticky notes within the text to show when the conflict took place.

I really think this can be used in any grade level and with any book. In short, just grab you some sticky notes and index cards. You’ll be ready to go!

For more tips on teaching character development with character traits, check out this post!


Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


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