One of my favorite things to teach at the beginning of the year, when we start to really dive into our read alouds and novel studies, is setting. It is something that the kids can easily grasp and really feel successful doing.
Usually, I just point out the time and the place, we talk about it orally, and that is enough. But now, with Common Core and the push to find evidence for everything (since they will have to write about it on the state test at the end of the year), I have taken my lessons on setting up a notch.
The next day, once that has sunk in, I ask the kids to read a short excerpt from a story containing some key elements of setting. There are SO many picture books that are good for this, but we used a short excerpt from Coraline
. It had a lot of elements of setting and the kids could easily identify them. I created a little chart for them to fill in with evidence from the text, answering our setting questions. You can grab the story and chart here to use in your own classroom.
The next day was when the real fun began. We are currently reading Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)
by Suzanne Collins as our novel study. (on a side note, this is a GREAT story for teaching basic story elements. There are just so many used!) Chapter five focuses heavily on the Underland city of Regalia, describing it very vividly. So I asked the students to draw a picture of that city. What did they visualize while reading? I gave them a blank template and the same setting questions chart, and they were off drawing and answering the questions in the chart with evidence from the text.
Next, it came time to write about it all. First the students did a little prewriting organizer to get evidence from the text and their own ideas about where and when the story was taking place. I then gave the students a nice paragraph frame (just like Paragraph of the Week...this thing is coming in SO handy!!) and the students set to work constructing a paragraph, using evidence and direct quotes, to describe the setting of the book.
It all just worked out really well. Not only did the students learn about setting (something they will need to know as we read many more novels and stories in the future) but they were able to WRITE about it! I love that.
Direct quotes are hard....and we are still working on it. But it is a start and I am loving how it is coming out.
If you would like a copy of all of my Setting in 5 Days lessons and graphic organizers, they are available in my TpT store.