About Character Traits: Character traits are among my favorite comprehension skills to teach. I love selecting read alouds with rich character development, then spending time digging into each character as we try to understand their motivations and actions. When first introducing this skill, I ask students to focus on the characters’ inside traits (their personality traits) and their outside traits (their physical traits).
Character Traits of the Spider and the Fly: The poem turned picture book, The Spider and the Fly (as imagined by Mary Howitt) is one such book. I love to read this book to my students either around Halloween time, or any time during the winter when spiders and flies magically disappear from our gardens and homes. (I use the hook … Where do we think they have gone? What fascinating life are they living right now? These questions lend themselves to some great, imaginative brainstorms that segue beautifully to this poem.) In this poem, a very clever spider and a very gullible fly come face-to-face. What commences is eerie, dark, and even humorous at times. Students love to pick apart their traits and motivations. (Check out my store for a full unit you can use with The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt.)
How to Assemble and Use the Booklet: Print one copy per student front to back, then fold it in half. (Note there are two booklet options … more details below.)
- Booklet 1: This booklet asks students to think about each character’s traits using similes. Half of the simile is provided, then students finish it and write or draw examples from the book to support it.
- Booklet 2: This booklet is more open-ended, allowing students to write four inside or outside traits for each character. They should use the space below each word they write to support their thoughts with evidence from the book (in writing or drawings). In this version, students write a short paragraph describing each character on the back of the booklet after they identify each character’s traits.
If you love teaching character traits as much as I do, some other books that are great during the fall are The Scarecrow, Stellaluna, and Pumpkin Soup. Check out our full units for each of these books in our Rounding Out the read Aloud Fall Bundle. Also, if you are going deeply down the spider and fly rabbit hole, check out our nonfiction units on spiders and flies which are great for extending learning. Once students have learned facts about actual spiders and flies, they can evaluate the actions of the characters in the story using a new lens (i.e., how the creatures behave in real life.)