Welcome to the first installment of our three-part series on teaching story structure. The first lesson in the series covers narrative story structures.
The narrative structure is how writers arrange and present their stories’ events, characters, and settings to create an engaging and meaningful experience for their audience. Narrative story structure can affect how readers understand, feel, and remember stories.
To help students understand and compare these different story structures, I have prepared some activities for you to do with your students. These activities will help students better comprehend the stories they read and write more engaging stories.
Teaching Story Structure:
How to Organize and Present Your Stories
In this blog post, I provide a step-by-step lesson plan with teaching resources to complete the activities.
Start by downloading the handout. It includes printables and links to Google and YouTube resources you will need.
Hook Activity: The Lion and the Mouse
To introduce the concept of story structure, start with a hook activity that uses a familiar fable: The Lion and the Mouse. In the “Student Packet” and the Google Slides, you will find three versions of this fable using three story structures: linear, non-linear, and in medias res.
Your task is to have your students read these three versions of the fable and answer the provided discussion questions about them. Question guide students to compare and contrast how each version uses its story structure and how it affects their understanding and enjoyment of the fable.
Activity #1: Video Lesson with Organizer on Teaching Story Structure
To help your students learn more about the different types of story structures for stories, I have prepared an organizer for them to complete while watching a video lesson. The organizer has five sections for five kinds of story structures:
- in medias res
- parallel plot
- circular plot
You can print out the organizer in this handout’s “Student Packet” section or online through Google Slides. You can also fold these organizers for easy storage in an interactive notebook.
Activity #2: Comparing Story Structures using Animated Shorts
Once students have grasped the fundamentals of story structure, move on to a hands-on activity involving animated shorts. I have selected five captivating films, each using a specific story structure.
Students will be divided into small groups to analyze each film and fill in a chart, comparing and contrasting the different formats used.
Here are the links to the animated shorts:
For the Birds [3:25]
Day & Night [5:47]
The House of Small Cubes [12:06]
The Dam Keeper [18:04]
Father and Daughter [9:22]
To wrap up our exploration of story structure, I have an engaging culminating activity in store for students. After studying various structures in poems, dramas, and prose, students will read three versions of the same story: a poem, a narrative, and a drama. Each version will feature a distinct structure and style.
Working in small groups, students will carefully read and discuss their assigned version, comparing and contrasting them using a provided set of questions.
I hope your students enjoy these fun activities and will learn to recognize and appreciate different structures helping them become better storytellers and readers.
Stay tuned for the next installments in our series, where I will provide activities for the structures found in dramas and poems.