1.          What is the Story?

What does life look like for the characters in the story?

*Find a story that allows for rich character development  and valuable curriculum study.  The story should have a setting in which the characters can be active, have a purpose, and develop as the story moves along.  The story should be age appropriate for students.

*What will the characters be doing?

Examples.  The characters will be:

Designers———————- Creating an art museum

Trainees————————Training to be Junior Park Rangers

Students————————-Attending music school in Venice

Sailors————————–Journeying to the Davis Straits for whales

Scientists———————Studying the rainforest

People of the Past————-Living as Native Americans in the 1500’s

Publishers———————-Creating a publishing company.



2.         The Narrative

*Write a simple narrative of the story that includes character roles.

*Keep the story simple and clear so students are able to understand the story and their character’s unique life in the setting.


3.         What do the people look like?

*Note physical characteristics, clothing, etc. Pay attention to detail.

*Set criteria for creation of characters unique to the setting of the story.


4. What will your name be? Who are you? How are you unique?

*Guide students as they select unique names for their characters.  Simple names that can be remembered, work best.  Use the setting and the story to guide the choices.  Some Storylines allow for names that set personality traits.  Example:  Native American—Curious Mouse

*Set criteria for biographies that allows for personality development.

Best traits/worst traits, People will tell you that I’m…, etc.

*Students can draw character traits out of a hat, to portray in their character.

*Teacher creates a character to model assuming a different personality and developing it.

*In some Storylines, families can be created.  Families provide another layer for character development.


5.         Who lives in our land?

*Have each student introduce their character.

*Post characters in the room and/or on the frieze to keep them visible and active in the setting.

*After characters are created, instigate activities that allow characters to get to know each other.

Memory game, Willaby Wallaby Woo, Who’s Missing, etc.


6.         Getting in Character

*When students enter the classroom, the teacher puts on her name tag and speaks in character.  Students know to get their name tags on and switch to Storyline time.

*Lights can be turned off to signal time for Storyline characters.

*Teacher and/or students can wear an article of clothing from the Storyline milieu.

*Only Storyline names are used during this time.


7.         Keeping Characters Alive:  Incidents

*Design Storyline activities/incidents that are in the context of the story so the characters can interact from their character’s point of view.

*Design activities for active character development.

*Vary character experiences as life in the setting is varied.


7 Intelligences








*Give characters opportunities to solve problems in a variety of ways and             in a variety of groupings.


Bloom’s Taxonomy







*Vary character groupings.

whole class, small groups, partners, individuals.


8. Writing

*Design writing activities that allow for character development and reflection.

*Some writing activities can be done in context of the Storyline and some in a morning loop lesson.

*With each writing activity, include criteria for voice/personality development.

Example:  Curious Mouse questions her world.

*Have students share their writing to build community and foster character development.


Colleen Vallerga   2009