Activities for Teaching Setting in Literature

Teaching Setting

Activity #1

I often teach the setting of a story by discussing genres. I ask students to name where and when a specific genre takes place.


Here is an example:

Science Fiction  >> Outer Space  >> Future

Fairy Tales >> Magical Kingdom  >> Usually Past

Realistic Fiction >> Real Locations >> Usually Present

Myth >> Heaven and Earth  >> Past

Historical Fiction >> Real Location >> Past


Activity #2

Next we use vivid imagery to describe a setting. I really stress the “Show, Don’t Tell” concept. [You might enjoy reading this post on Show, Don’t Tell.] I have students use a chart with the five senses listed across the top. Under each category, I ask students to use short phrases to describe what a character would experience in the location.



Feel Smell Taste Hear


Activity #3

Next students work in small groups to examine settings in picture books. Here is a list of Picture Books with Well Developed Settings from readwritethink. Students use the Show, Don’t Tell method of describing the setting in their picture book.


These free “Printable Charts for Setting” may be used with Activity 3. You can download the anchor chart of your choice by clicking on the images below. Printing instructions are found below the images.


 Free Beach Setting Anchor Chart  Free Mountain Setting Anchor Chart
 Free City Setting Anchor Chart  Free Forest Setting Anchor Chart
 Free Blank Setting Anchor Chart

This blank setting anchor chart is editable. It will download in PowerPoint. If you would like to keep the same font that says, “Setting,” click anywhere next to the word setting in the text box and just start typing. Delete the old text AFTER you have your new text completed.


Printing Instructions

Adobe Reader

With Adobe Reader 10 or newer, you can print posters by splitting the document across multiple sheets of paper called tiles. After printing, you piece the tiles together. If you have an older version of Adobe Reader, you can update to a newer version with a free download here:

Printing Instructions

  1. Choose File > Print
  2. A pop-up menu will open. Select the “Poster” option under “Page Sizing & Handling.” The poster is set to print 20 by 30 inches. This will tile over 8 pieces of paper. This size fits perfectly on the standard 22 by 32 inch flip chart. If you select “Size” in place of “Poster,” your poster will fit on a standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper.


Additional Resources

If you are looking for additional resources, you might like to take a look at “Characters and Settings.” This resource contains mini posters, foldable graphic organizers, and activities to help teach about characters and settings.


Characters and Settings at Teachers Pay Teachers

Characters and Setting Unit


Gay Miller


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    • Jenny on July 29, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Incredible points. Solid arguments. Keep up the great spirit.

    • Celina on August 1, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    WOW just what I was looking for.

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