All About the Elements of a Story and How to Teach Them to KidsMon, 21 Jun by Kunal
Stories have immense learning opportunities for kids. But to understand a story in-depth, kids must be familiar with its elements, such as the point of view of the narrator, the setting, the characters, etc.
A story has different components that contribute to its essence and its effect on the reader. Therefore, it is important to know about the various elements of a story to comprehend it as well as learn the art of storytelling. Moreover, the knowledge of story elements helps tremendously in writing essays and completing writing assignments.
Elements, also termed as components, are grouped in two parts: the 5 basic elements and the advanced set of elements. Let’s understand each in detail.
5 Elements of a Story
Setting is basically the ‘when and where’ of the story. It refers to the physical location and the time period in which the story takes place.
Characters are the ‘who’ of a story plot, responsible for driving the story. Depending on the story’s type, characters are usually humans or animals. But when talking about elements of a story for kids, characters may be non-living things, such as toys or books.
The sequence of events in a story is called a plot. It is the ‘what’ of the story and consists of an introduction, rising action, falling action, climax, and resolution. In most stories, the plot begins with a problem and leads to a resolution.
Every good story requires conflict, which can be referred to as a problem or challenge necessary to drive a story’s action. Conflict is the ‘why’ of the story and lays a foundation for cause and effect events.
Theme is the idea, moral, or underlying insight that the plot of the story conveys. It can be referred to as the ‘message’ of a story.
Advanced Elements of a Story
Once children learn and understand the basic elements of a story explained above, they can move on to learn advanced elements. Advanced elements or components are usually taught to 5th graders and above because of their ability to understand these slightly complex story elements, including
Point of View
The point of view or POV refers to who is narrating the story. It can be the first, second, or third person and can switch between these three characters of the story.
Tone refers to the mood of the story, such as happy, sad, dark, or dramatic. A tone is defined through the writer’s choice of words. The use of grammar, literary devices, rhyme, and rhythm also defines the tone of a story.
Style is related to tone in many aspects. It is referred to as the unique voice of the author, which is again defined through the choice of words, the pattern of the plot, sentence structures, etc. The tone of a story also depends largely on the writer’s or author’s personal style of writing.
Mood is all about the emotions that the writer or author evokes in the reader. The effect of the story on the reader is created through the way the language is used; for example, the language may be whimsical, happy, comic, etc.
Why Story Elements are Important
The importance of identifying the elements of a story goes beyond understanding the story. Identifying story elements helps in deeply understanding and appreciating a narrative. Understanding how a story flows, what is its tone, and what the author is trying to communicate helps readers achieve the highest levels of comprehension. Moreover, an understanding of the elements of a story helps students in their own writing assignments and exams. It helps them accurately organise their thoughts, weave the events creatively, and at the same time, make complete sense.
4 Ways of Teaching Story Elements
Using Graphic Organisers
Graphic organisers allow extracting elements, such as the character, problem, solution, conclusion, etc. and organise them visually. Visually segregated information makes comprehension easier, helping students retell, recall, and summarise the story with ease. One of the most helpful graphic organisers is a story map.
Read, Roll, and Retell
This fun activity is a great way to do a group review of material kids have just read. It includes rolling a die, while each number on the die corresponds to a question on the list. An example may be ‘when and where did the story take place?’
Kids in the group take turns to roll the die and answer the questions in as much detail as possible with reference to the story or text. This interactive activity can be made more complex as per the age of the participants by increasing the complexity of text or the number of questions.
Picking a Part
To do this activity, students are required to work in pairs. Each participant is handed a card, with different cards having details, such as the character, tone, setting, mood, etc. Kids must now know which card their partners have. Everyone reads a brief extract from the text or story corresponding to the elements of a story they are assigned. The participants are then required to identify elements based on how their partners enact them.
Using a Story Graph
The story graph is a straightforward graph with sub-elements, such as exposition, rising action, conflict, falling action, climax, and resolution, chronologically listed on the x-axis. The y-axis records the levels of excitement for each. For example, the introduction of characters will be plotted lower than the rising action.
An understanding of the elements of a story cannot be gained in one session. Practice is key. So, keep practising with your child and help them master the art of story comprehension and storytelling.