Character traits are the behaviors and beliefs that make fictional characters come to life. Character traits are often expressed through actions, dialogue, or internal feelings, requiring students to use their inferencing skills to draw conclusions about specific traits for each character. The activities listed below are focused on teaching students to analyze character traits. Starting with individual quotes, moving on to complete texts, and finishing with a video analysis scaffolds learning. The overall objective is for students to be able to independently identify character traits and support their choices with evidence and/or examples.
The following quotes are from The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Work with students to align each quote with a corresponding character trait. This is a great way to show students how to support character trait choices with textual evidence. Click here to download a free printable list of character traits to use with your lesson.
“Here in my domain, I do not have much to do” (15).
“I’ve always been an artist. I love drawing” (85).
“All day long I knuckle walk circles around my cage” (200).
“I bounce off the walls. I screech and bellow. I beat and beat and beat on my chest” (208).
“I cower and hide my eyes” (278).
After working through individual quotes, your students will be ready to identify character traits in books. Since identify character traits requires students to use inference skills, I like to start with shorter picture books. The list of books below work well for identifying character traits because the characters in each story change as the story progresses, giving students an opportunity to identify character traits at the beginning and end of the story.
Reinforce learning by analyzing character traits in video. Identifying character traits in video will provide students with a chance to analyze characters in a different format. Many short films or clips from longer films will work. I like to use Pip, an animated film about a small dog with a big dream. The film does not contain dialogue, so students must rely on actions alone to draw conclusions about Pip’s character traits. After students have identified Pip’s character traits, it’s important that they support their choices with examples from the video.