Grade Levels: K-3

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

Reading is an exciting experience for children and people of all ages and we recommend providing a print-rich environment for your children. As you read together, it is important to model active reading skills and help your children to identify fundamental story elements such as character, setting, and plot to increase and strengthen comprehension. Plot is simply what happens in a story, or all the events that the author arranges to tell a story. In almost every story, the main character or characters face a conflict, or problem, and try to find a solution, or an answer.

Review with your children that a character is anyone in a story. The main characters are the most important characters in the story. The setting is the time and place of a story. Settings can change throughout a story. You may wish to screen the Character or Setting movies for review. All the events that happen in a story make up the plot. Choose a book or story together and identify the characters and setting. Then discuss what happens in the plot.

A conflict is the overarching problem the characters face in a story. In some stories, characters struggle against nature. For example, in one story, a protagonist might try to climb the highest mountain or cross the hottest desert. Characters can also struggle against machines. For example, they might battle a malfunctioning computer or try to fix a car. Some characters struggle against other characters, as in classic comic books where heroes and anti-heroes battle. Other conflicts might arise between a character and society, such as when a character battles poverty or racism. Some conflicts, however, are fought within the characters on an emotional level. Internal conflicts can include a character who tries to overcome a fear or cope with a loss of a pet or family member. Conflicts can involve emotions, loyalties, desires, or the conscience. Encourage your children to think about stories, characters, and the conflicts they encounter. You may also want to discuss conflicts your children have struggled with or overcome in their own lives.

The solution is an answer to a problem or how the conflict is solved. Throughout a story, characters might find different solutions to a problem, successfully or unsuccessfully. Suspense happens when the reader is not sure what will happen next. It is important for your children to understand that stories may not end happily and not all problems the characters face will be solved. Sometimes at the conclusion of stories, new problems arise. You may wish to identify stories and book that end this way. A book in a series might end with a problem that will then lead into the next book.

Stories and plotlines differ, but the classic parts of a story include the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The introduction presents the characters and the setting, and the rising action brings in the conflict, which then escalates into the climax, or the point in the story where the conflict appears to be at the highest point. The falling action involves the characters getting closer to solving the conflict and managing the effects from the climax, and the resolution is when the conflict is solved. While your children are not responsible for knowing all these elements of a story, they should understand that throughout a story, characters can struggle with conflicts, and as a result, grow and change or stay the same. Often characters learn something about themselves or about others.

Stories can be confusing, especially when there are many characters, plotlines, and conflicts, but there are many ways readers can follow the events in a story. The easiest way is to create a graphic organizer. Charts, lists, and story maps are helpful ways to keep track of events in the story. Drawing pictures or taking notes while reading are also useful strategies. Good readers think, take notes, and ask questions while they read. Every child can find his or her own way of reading and understanding, so encourage your children to find their own strategies of following plots as they read.

Extension Activities:

Review with your children that a character is anyone in a story. The main characters are the most important characters in the story. The setting is the time and place of a story. Settings can change throughout a story. You may wish to screen the Character or Setting movies for review. All the events that happen in a story make up the plot. Choose a book or story together and identify the characters and setting. Then discuss what happens in the plot.

A conflict is the overarching problem the characters face in a story. In some stories, characters struggle against nature. For example, in one story, a protagonist might try to climb the highest mountain or cross the hottest desert. Characters can also struggle against machines. For example, they might battle a malfunctioning computer or try to fix a car. Some characters struggle against other characters, as in classic comic books where heroes and anti-heroes battle. Other conflicts might arise between a character and society, such as when a character battles poverty or racism. Some conflicts, however, are fought within the characters on an emotional level. Internal conflicts can include a character who tries to overcome a fear or cope with a loss of a pet or family member. Conflicts can involve emotions, loyalties, desires, or the conscience. Encourage your children to think about stories, characters, and the conflicts they encounter. You may also want to discuss conflicts your children have struggled with or overcome in their own lives.

The solution is an answer to a problem or how the conflict is solved. Throughout a story, characters might find different solutions to a problem, successfully or unsuccessfully. Suspense happens when the reader is not sure what will happen next. It is important for your children to understand that stories may not end happily and not all problems the characters face will be solved. Sometimes at the conclusion of stories, new problems arise. You may wish to identify stories and book that end this way. A book in a series might end with a problem that will then lead into the next book.

Stories and plotlines differ, but the classic parts of a story include the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The introduction presents the characters and the setting, and the rising action brings in the conflict, which then escalates into the climax, or the point in the story where the conflict appears to be at the highest point. The falling action involves the characters getting closer to solving the conflict and managing the effects from the climax, and the resolution is when the conflict is solved. While your children are not responsible for knowing all these elements of a story, they should understand that throughout a story, characters can struggle with conflicts, and as a result, grow and change or stay the same. Often characters learn something about themselves or about others.

Stories can be confusing, especially when there are many characters, plotlines, and conflicts, but there are many ways readers can follow the events in a story. The easiest way is to create a graphic organizer. Charts, lists, and story maps are helpful ways to keep track of events in the story. Drawing pictures or taking notes while reading are also useful strategies. Good readers think, take notes, and ask questions while they read. Every child can find his or her own way of reading and understanding, so encourage your children to find their own strategies of following plots as they read.

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