Any creative ideas on teaching story elements to fourth graders not interested in reading?!Any creative ideas on teaching story elements to fourth graders not interested in reading?!

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not sure what you mean by "story elements."  I do not teach elementary school, and do not know whether elementary school students learn terms like "plot," "climax," and "resolution."  I would be surprised and impressed if you were able to teach young children these terms. 

But if you are looking for ways to make their reading "stick," that is another matter entirely.  Children are natural hams and love to act out stories.  If your students have already been introduced to the world of technology, they might have fun reducing stories for Twitter.  Another idea might be a response journal, a few sentences for each section of a story.  Fourth graders, as far as I know, still love to be read, too, so perhaps a story hour would be good, a few times a week. 

I do not know how much latitude you have in their reading choices, but my experience with my own children tells me that what those reading choices are is terribly important.  Not one size will fit all, and there is a trend today, which seems quite successful, to engage readers with more non-fiction.  This seems to be most successful with little boys. 

I hope I have understood your question well enough to have been of use.  Good luck! 

kemorton eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I am a fourth grade teacher and have taught story elements this year and have been revisiting it. My suggestion to you is to find a book that would be high interest. I'm not sure if you use Houghton Mifflin or if you have the story "Akiak." Regardless the book, "Stone Fox" is excellent and every 4th grade class I've had loves the story. It's about a boy who enters a sled dog race to win money to save his grandfather's farm. The kids are constantly engaged in the story. If you can get your hands on this book, students will easily be able to point out the characters, setting, plot, conclusion. Other books to try: "Sarah, Plain and Tall" "Island of the Blue Dolphins" "James and the Giant Peach" "The BFG" I will periodically step away from the adopted curriculum to bring more high interest novels to my kids. Hopefully these can work with your students.
ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

God bless you working with the young ones:) I teach high schoolers, and something I did with my kids might interest yours. I drew a plot sequence chart in chalk on the parking lot in front of our building. When I took my classes outside, there were several different options. We talked about the parts of the chart, and then I gave them parts of the story, and students had to go stand on the part of the chart that the story part referred to. For example in Jack and the Beanstalk, the death of Jack's father would be exposition. Students who answered that question would go stand on the corresponding part of the chart. It's visual; it's active; it's different. High schoolers liked it , and maybe fourth graders would too.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Have the kids teach each other! Students of all ages love to play teacher and get to be in front of the class. This is also a great way for them to apply what they already know about PowerPoint and/or SmartBoards, if you have that. Assign small groups to teach each element to the rest of the class. Have the group select a story/book that they will use as the "text" for the work they will do. Plan ahead and be meticulous about breaking down each assignment into roles so that one kid in the group doesn't take over/do everything. (This is called "front-loading" your lesson.) Develop a clear rubric for how the presentations and group will be scored.

Good luck with your 4th graders!

kkosach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the time the kids get to the fourth grade, they are starting to think they are pretty smart.  If they aren't interested in reading, they may be interested in creating their own stories.  Everyone likes talking about himself.  I would share a common story with them, like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and explain the story parts to them through something they know well.  Then, in small groups, have them put together their own stories along with illustrations.     You may want to show a popular movie for the same effect.  Good luck!

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the previous posts were very solid.  One thing I would emphasize is the idea of having kids assemble their own dramas.  Fourth grade is a time where students like to act out story elements and perhaps, this is something that can be used.  The comic strip dimension is something that can also be developed in terms of giving students a fixed number of panels that can be used and then have students determine, design, and illustrate a comic that represents the specific plot elements desired.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would let the kids act out the play. You can address story elements as you move along. Kids, especially at this age, love the interaction. It is fun and definitely beats sitting at a desk in a classroom. I also like the idea of letting them create their own stories. This can be done by splitting the class into groups and having them brainstorm ideas. They can create a story and then they can even act it out to the rest of the class and have the class discuss characters, plots, etc.

schoolbaby14 | Student

Do some projects. When I was in firth grade my teacher made a book fun by letting us dress up as the characters from the book when we finished reading it. That really made it fun.

kpalumbo13 | Student

I teach high school as well, but I have a third grader and a fifth grader at home. My students and my own children love using technology. I would use sites such as and to engage them. Animoto will allow students to use photos, text, and music to create their own story in the form of a 30 second music video (a web based flashy "potostoryesque program --super fun and easy). Toondoo is a comic site that is drag and drop. Students can create both comic "books" and individual strips. Break your students into groups by the element you want them to demonstrate/isolate and have a simple story (as suggested above) that they can "rewrite" or break into its composite parts. If you use toondoo, each group can print out their comic and make a book as a class, or have each person in a group illustrate a part of the story and each group make a book. I use a version of this with freshmen to teach symbolism, allusion, characterization, and theme.

cptinkid | Student

The book "Caps for Sales" is an easy one for them to identify the plot, problem, setting, etc., It's also a great story to have them retell and choral read to help with fluency.

jfava | Student

Use a common story like "The 3 Little Pigs" or "Jack and the Beanstalk".  Break it down into the basic elements of a story such as; introduction, problem, rising action (several), climax, falling action, conclusion.  Then have the students illustrate the story segments (perhaps by groups).  Then, show them the graphic of the elements of a story.  Students can insert the elements of their story in chronological order.  Since they know the story well, the elements will be more easily understood.  After this activity, have them plot the same for another story.

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