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Analyzing Story Elements

Context for this Lesson



What are the inciting incident, rising action and complications, climax, falling action, and resolution of a particular story? Students will recognize and analyze story plot, setting, and problem resolution.

Materials and Preparation:

-pieces of paper with fictional newspaper headlines of a specific story (not Three Little Pig)

– each headlines should indicate the inciting incident, a piece of rising action or complication, the climax, a piece of falling action, and the resolution

-use masking tape to tape a large plot curve on the floor, large enough for groups of students to stand along


Put students in the number of groups that you have pieces of paper with the headlines.

Today, I have these mysterious headlines and I need your help to put them in the order in which these headlines appeared in the newspaper. Give each group a piece of paper. Amongst yourselves, decide as a class what order these headlines happened in and stand in a line to show your decisions. Give students time to complete the task.

Where did you place yourself in the line? Why did you place yourself there? SHARE You all used very good thinking and problem solving skills in that activity. If these headlines were put into a story, each of these events would be called something. Write part of the plot curve on board – inciting incident, rising action/complication, climax, falling action, resolution. These are what these pieces could be called. I invite you all now to, in your groups, use your textbooks to figure out what your headline would be called. Give them a few minutes to decide what to call their event. Have each group present their discoveries to the class and explain why they think their event should be called that.

Transition: You all did such a great job on using your research skills. Now, I invite you all to explore a different story with me so that we can put our new knowledge to practice. Today we are going to use the story of the Three Little Pigs. Now, I know there are many versions of this story that you may have heard, but today let’s explore this version. Tell the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Important points to note during the telling of the story: -Pigs decide to build houses out of straw, sticks, and bricks. Third little pig warns the other two pigs that their chosen materials will not work, but they decide to build their houses anyway. -Hungry wolf comes to the first pig’s house made of straw, blows it down, and eats the pig. -Hungry wolf comes to the second pig’s house made of sticks, blows it down, and eats the pig. -Hungry wolf comes to the third pig’s house made of bricks, tries to blow it down, and cannot do so and decides to climb into the house through the chimney. -Third pig begins to make a stew. -The wolf falls down the chimney into the stew in the fireplace and the third pig has a marvelous feast.


Put students in groups of four or five.

Assign each group a piece of the vocabulary and dramatic structure to create an image of that from the story Three Little Pigs. Give them a few minutes to work on it. Have each group present their image and for each group have the rest of the class discuss these questions.

D: What is happening in this image?

A: Which character of the story might each person in the image be playing?

R: What part of the dramatic structure does this image portray? Why do you think that? Using this plot line on the floor, where would they be placed and why? Have the groups place themselves on the plot line on the floor. After this is done for all groups, ask the class if this looks correct and if any changes should be made. Are there any events from the story missing? Where on the plot line would those events be placed?

Transition: You all created such great images and used your new knowledge well. I invite you to return to your desks and talk about what we’ve done and learned today.


D: What did we talk about today? What did we do? What was challenging about today?

A: How does our new vocabulary about dramatic structure translate into the plot line we drew on the floor? Why do you think we use this plot line?

R: How does what we learned today help us read and understand stories?

EVALUATE THE SESSION Do students demonstrate understanding of the new knowledge presented in class? Can they apply it to other stories?

Extensions/Applications : 

1) Assign students a short story to read for homework and ask them to come back with the pieces of the dramatic structure labeled on a plot outline like practiced in class.

2) Have students create their own story using the dramatic structure as a guideline to create the plot.