Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about setting. It is designed to complement the Setting topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Setting is the time and place in which a story occurs. A setting of a story, poem, or play can be anchored to a specific time and place, such as on the Oregon Trail in the 1800s, or it can be fictitious, such as a faraway kingdom or in outer space. Whether or not the location is real or fantastical, characters interact with the setting to show and tell a story. We recommend watching the Character movie together as a review.

Most stories have several settings. In Homer’s The Odyssey, the main character goes through a journey filled with obstacles and danger in order to return home to his family. The setting constantly changes and the characters are forced to confront and adapt to these changes. Other stories, such as fables, have one setting in which the characters grow and change. Encourage your child to point out different settings as he or she reads.

One important element of setting is time. The period of time in which a story takes place dictates how the characters act, talk, react to each other, or even travel. For example, a story that takes place in the South today would be drastically different from a story that takes place in the South in the early 1800s.

Encourage your children to think about setting whenever they read or write. How might the story be different if the setting were changed? Setting contributes not only to the plot, but also to the mood. For example, the setting of a story about vampires could be an old, dark mansion tucked away in a foggy bayou. This setting lends an air of suspense and uneasiness to the plot and characters. If the setting were the busy streets of New York City, there would be a different mood.

Many authors might not explicitly tell the reader about the setting. Readers must use clues to infer the time and place. Encourage your children to look for clues about the setting as they read. How do the characters travel? How do they dress? How do they talk? Encourage your children to ask questions as they read, an important step to reading well.