Teaching Character Traits to develop Character Theories is an important skill in grades 3 and above.
One thing that I have always noticed with my third graders is that they have trouble coming up with character traits simply because they don’t have enough of a vocabulary to voice what they are thinking.
This is why I front load character traits when I start my character unit.
To do this, I frontload vocabulary by giving them a character trait definition chart with many familiar and unfamiliar words. I have students highlight their chart with all of the words that they know without reading the definitions.
Then I have them talk with their group members and find 2 character traits that all of them highlighted and 1 character trait that none of them highlighted. This gets them talking about the words naturally without me even asking them to. They write the words at the top of their paper and then fold it over.
Next I have the groups switch papers with another group (we sanitize each time) and analyze those papers the same way. Find two words everyone knows and one that everyone doesn’t know. This gets them looking at the words even more closely and looking at the definitions.
Now they write it on the side of that kid’s paper. Then they get to unfold the top and look to see if they match what the first group wrote. They don’t have to match but it’s fun to see of they can.
They do this one more time by switching papers (and sanitizing). By this time they have heard a few of the harder words that no one really knows, multiple times. They have been having good discussions about the words that they have never heard of. They check the other two groups to see if they match.
Lastly they get their papers back and as a whole group, I ask them to tell me the character traits that they didn’t know. We chart them on the board and we discuss their definitions. By the end, we have a list of the more difficult trait vocabulary and a better understanding of the words. It also helps me to know which words I need to focus on more.
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