Story Elements Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Bring your instruction on the elements of a story to life with a lesson and a fun in-class group activity. Within this lesson, students will explore the concepts of setting, plot, theme and conflict.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify and label the elements of a story
  • apply the elements of a story in a small group writing


1 hour


  • whiteboard or chalkboard
  • dry erase markers or chalk
  • notebook paper
  • pens or pencils
  • tablets, computers or projector to access lesson

Curriculum Standards


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.


With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 6 here.)

Key Vocabulary

  • setting
  • plot
  • conflict
  • theme
  • characters


  • Have students read the text lesson Elements of a Short Story.
  • As the students are reading the lesson, write the following key terms on the board:






  • When all the students have finished reading the lesson, divide them into five groups.
  • Assign one group with SETTING, the next with PLOT, the third with CONFLICT, the fourth with THEME, and the fifth with CHARACTERS. Each group will be tasked with creating an element of a story.
  • Ask each group to consider their vocabulary term as they collaborate on this element. They will use the notebook paper and pens/pencils to jot down their ideas, but should not communicate or share ideas with the other groups. For example, the SETTING group will come up with the when and where of the story without talking to the other groups. The THEME group will come up with the central idea of the story and so on.
  • When each group has finished drafting their element of the story, have them take turns presenting what they have written to the class.
  • Then, together as a whole, the class will create a short story combining the five individual elements created by each group. The fact that they are pieced together without communication should create a funny story that will engage students while demonstrating the need for cohesion among story elements.


  • Ask students to use sticky notes to label the different elements of their favorite story.
  • Assign each student a well-known story and ask them to analyze and describe each of the story elements.
  • Have students reimagine their favorite story without one of the story elements. Does it change the meaning?

Related Lessons

Literary Genres: Definition, Types, Characteristics & Examples

Information Writing: Definition, Style & examples

What are Nonfiction Text Features? - Examples & Overview

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