Story Elements Detective



One of our favorite ELA units is Story Elements.   Teaching students story elements is key to being able to retell a story independently.


This is the interactive Story Elements bulletin board we like to use to allow students to see the work we've done as the unit is being taught.  Students also have tools they can use on their own from the board.  All of the activities can be found here and are explained in the post below!


Students always love something different, so incorporating a "detective" theme helps.  We talk to students about how being a detective can help them use clues to determine the story elements.  Students can use hand lenses to find clues in the text and illustrations.



We have taught story elements many ways over the years.  One way we have found to be successful is to use one text over multiple days. Teach each story element on it's own using that same text. 

The text that we like to use for this task is Rainbow Fish (Affiliate Link).  You can definitely use other texts, but Rainbow Fish seems to be very easy for students to understand.


We read the book each day.  Rereading the text allows students to be reminded of the details.
Each day we focus on one specific story element.  After discussion, students independently illustrate the story element and add a label or sentence. 

Day One // Characters


Day Two // Setting


Day Three // Problem + Solution


Day Four // Put It All Together!


We use the tools below to practice Story Elements.  We start with Rainbow Fish, but use many other books to continue practicing.

The Story Elements puzzle is modeled and practiced together and then put in the student's book boxes to use independently. 




The Story Elements Text Talk language frames are modeled and practiced together and then put in the student's book boxes to use independently.




We love to use the Text Talk Language Frames during snack, too!


Once students become "experts" at story elements, they can wear this badge!


If you like the activities we've shared, make sure to check out our product, Story Elements Detective


Some of our favorite books that fill our book shelf when we are teaching Story Elements include (Affiliate Links):














We also have a Print a Standard pack that covers Story Elements.  This pack contains over 10 practice pages that can be used for class work, small group instruction, homework, assessments, etc.


We hope you have found a few ideas to help your kiddos with Story Elements!  


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