This past week we explored how the setting can influence and affect a story. In order to make this come to life for my students I wanted them to think about if a setting was actually important. At our meeting place I had this ready for my young learners when they came in for the day.
As my students hung up their backpack, the scene I had “drew” (I traced it using my projector) had sparked quite the conversation.
“I think it’s a jungle!”
“Really? I thought it was the rainforest.”
“I see bamboo, it must be a jungle.”
“Oh yeah! I see the bamboo and a tiger! It MUST be a jungle.”
I joined them on the carpet and entered in the conversation. We talked about why it could be a rainforest and why it could be a jungle and why it’s probably not a desert, etc.
I then read the essential question to my students and had them discuss their thoughts with their friends.
“I don’t really think the setting is important,” one child said, “it’s just like an add on when an author writes.”
His friend replied, “I think it IS important because it’s where the story takes place. I mean, a desert couldn’t have a tiger as a character, could it?”
We discussed both sides of the conversation and I didn’t say whether or not a setting was important and instead read the book The Magic Fish to my students. Oh how I love this book! (If you click on the title it will take you to an Amazon affiliate link) It’s great for so many reasons! After the story was over a child was SO excited to share. He said, “Y’all!! The setting IS important because if the setting in this story hadn’t been the ocean it couldn’t be the magic FISH! It would be… you know… the magic TIGER and everything would be different!” My other students nodded in agreement and many showed the “I agree” symbol to this thought.
With that, I told my students that I had set up a book museum for them to explore that day. I explained that around the classroom they would find a variety of books organized at the tables by setting. Their job was to go from table to table exploring the books and talking with their friends about the different settings they were seeing and then to pick the setting that they liked best and draw it on their recording page.
Around the room my young learners devoured the picture books and talked about what they were seeing. They discussed the characters they saw and why the setting mattered.
They intently looked at the details the illustrators used and really took their job to heart!
Once they found their favorite setting, they took the recording page and carefully drew it.
Once they finished their illustrations, they came back to the carpet. I had them close their eyes and picture their drawing in their mind and then told them to pretend that they were using it to inspire a new story. I told them that they could use any character they wanted to but the setting needed to inspire the story.
As they came up with ideas, they sat up and partnered up with a friend sharing what their new story would be about.
They orally told their new stories and then got to work writing them.
My students came up with some amazing new stories and when reflecting on their day, exploring settings was one of their favorite things that we did. As the week progressed, I saw many students using this strategy of using settings as inspiration to find stories often during writer’s workshop. It truly impacted how they are thinking and talking about stories!
If you would like the recording page plus book suggestions when teaching story elements, you might be interested in my packet available on TpT Reading Comprehension Anchor Charts, Book Suggestions, and Recording Pages. You can get it by clicking here.
I hope that you are doing well!