Monday, March 21, 2011

Character Words: Traits and Adjectives

When teaching students to describe characters or identify character traits shown in stories, simply having  a list of great adjectives is not always enough. While some students lack the verbal vocabulary necessary to be able to adequately describe characters, a majority of students are unable to recall word meanings or have never even heard many of the words on the list.

After a guided reading lesson “gone bad” where I directed students to read their book thinking about how they would describe the main character, I came up with the idea of providing students with the definitions and a picture clue for character adjectives.This would provide the scaffolding they needed while also exposing them to new word meanings. I prepare for my guided reading lessons or read alouds on this topic by picking out 5-10 words with a mix of ones that describe the character and ones that are obviously opposite of how the character acts. After reading the story, students and I sort the words discussing how they do or do not fit for the character.

Using this approach, you will soon find students pointing out examples of character adjectives/traits in your read alouds and their independent reading books. I have found that work with describing words (especially if you post them in the room) continues on long after my initial lessons because students want to use the vocabulary words.  

I have uploaded my 48 definition cards, a 9 pg activity packet, and a powerpoint file for using with the smartboard on teacherspayteachers. The activity packet includes: 
* a positive/negative character trait sort
* a "trait a week" recording sheet
* an antonym worksheet
* a synonym worksheet
* a response page for thinking about characters in independent reading books
* a Frayer-Model like sheet for focusing on one word at a time
* a character change worksheet (for analyzing characters at the beginning, middle, and end)
* "My Personality" trait worksheet
* independent reading character sort (see below)


  1. I would like to buy/download this Personality traits adjectives activity but the link simply takes me to the page of teachers. How do I find it to buy it?

    1. You can find it here:

      I have also updated all of the links in this post. Thanks for your interest!



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