14th Dec2023

Engaging Elementary Students with Plot Charts: Tips and Ideas

by James Smith

Plot charts are a fundamental tool in teaching literature, especially in elementary classrooms. They help students visualize the structure of a story, making it easier to understand and remember the key elements. Teaching young students the basic ideas that a plot chart usually has can be fun and educational, and it can help them develop a love for reading and stories. Let’s find out the best ways you can do this.

Start with Simple Stories

Begin by selecting simple, familiar stories that the students already enjoy. These could be classic fairy tales or popular children’s books. Outline the basic structure of the plot chart on the board and involve the students in identifying each part of the story. In this interactive way, you’ll make the learning process more engaging and relatable for young minds.

Include Interactive Activities

You can then incorporate hands-on activities and thus make learning more dynamic. For that, create a large, physical plot chart in the classroom where students can add elements from the story using sticky notes or drawings.

Integrating Technology

Alternatively, you could integrate technology into the process and further enhance the learning experience. Use educational digital tools like interactive whiteboards or apps, allowing young learners to drag and drop elements like characters, settings, and events into the plot chart. These activities cater to different learning styles and keep the students actively involved. By applying this approach, you also prepare them for the increasingly digitalized world.

Foster Creativity through Story Creation

Another great method is to encourage students to create their own stories using plot charts. This exercise not only reinforces their understanding of story structure but also allows them to unleash their creativity. You can provide prompts or story starters to help them begin and then guide them through each stage of the plot. This activity can be done individually or in groups, fostering collaboration and communication skills.

Explore Different Genres with Plot Charts

Furthermore, you can introduce students to various genres through plot charts. For example, compare a fairy tale with a mystery story, highlighting how the plot structures differ. This not only broadens their literary knowledge but also teaches them to appreciate different types of stories. Encourage them to explore these genres in their creative writing, using the plot charts as a guide.

Evaluate Understanding

Assessing students’ understanding of the topic is a crucial part of the educational process. You can do this with short quizzes, group discussions, or individual presentations where they explain the plot of a story using a chart. This is how you can evaluate their comprehension while helping them develop their presentation and public speaking skills.

Collaborate with Parents

It’s a good idea to also involve parents in the learning process. Provide some simple plot chart templates for students to fill out as they read stories with their families. This helps reinforce the concept at home and encourages family bonding over storytelling.

Additional Tips for Enhancing Literature Lessons

To further enrich the learning experience when teaching plot charts in the elementary classroom, you can use the following strategies:

  • Apply real-life examples: Relate plot structures to real-life events or experiences. This connection can help students understand that stories mirror life, making the concept more tangible and relatable.
  • Encourage role-playing: Incorporate role-playing activities where young learners act out different parts of a story. With this kinesthetic approach, they physically experience the structure of the story, enhancing their understanding and retention.
  • Utilize visual aids: Use visual aids like posters, flashcards, or infographics to illustrate structure elements. These materials can be particularly helpful for visual learners and can serve as effective reference tools in the classroom.
  • Connect with different subjects: Integrate the topic into other subjects like history or science. For example, when studying historical events, use a plot chart to outline the sequence of events. This interdisciplinary technique reinforces the idea of plot structure and demonstrates its versatility.
  • Provide feedback and encouragement: Regularly provide constructive feedback and encouragement. Celebrate student progress and creativity, fostering a positive and supportive learning environment.
  • Customize plot charts: Allow students to personalize their plot charts with drawings or decorations. This customization can make the learning process more enjoyable and memorable.

These additional tips are designed to make plot chart lessons even more dynamic and productive, ensuring that students not only grasp the concept effectively but also completely enjoy the learning process.


Using plot charts is an excellent way for elementary teachers to improve students’ understanding of literature. These materials, when used correctly, encourage imagination, empathy, and critical thinking. They perfectly aid in story analysis and contribute to the development of reading comprehension and creative writing skills.
Enrich your teaching with the diverse approaches discussed above, and you’re sure to make your lessons the most effective!


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