Understand Character with Geronimo Stilton

Lesson Plan Title:
Understanding Characters in the Geronimo Stilton Series


Grade Levels: 2-4

Student Goal:

  1. Students will identify character traits and personalities based on an author's descriptions and interpretations.
  2. Students will use their own descriptions and interpretations of characters to enhance their understanding of them and the story.

Student Objectives:

  1. Students will identify elements of character development.
  2. Students will use specific quotes and descriptions from the book to support their interpretations of characters.
  3. Students will make meaningful connections between characters and their own personal life experiences.

Materials:

  1. Geronimo Stilton books (This lesson can be used with any Geronimo Stilton character.)
  2. pencils or pens
  3. writing paper

Directions:
Prior to this lesson, assign any Geronimo Stilton book as independent reading so that students will be prepared to discuss its characters in class. You may also wish to read the book aloud in installments. Then proceed with the following:

1. Tell students that an author develops a character by describing his or her appearance, thoughts, and actions, along with his or her relationships with other characters. Based on these criteria, ask students to describe Geronimo and his friends' traits and personalities by printing out and distributing a Character Sheet and Traits List. You may wish to have them fill one out for each character in the book. Invite students to examine the development of the Geronimo characters more closely by asking what their first impressions of each character were. Did the character change over the course of the book? If so, how, and what prompted the change? For older students, you can explore character-related literary terms in greater depth by distributing an Understanding "Character" Analysis sheet.

2. Have students find and write down three to six quotes from each character that reveal something about his or her personality. Students should then provide details about how each quote reflects the character's way of thinking. Invite volunteers to share their writing with the class. If students interpret a character's quote in different ways, encourage them to discuss and debate their interpretations. For younger grades, you may wish to ask students to pick three to five traits from their Character Sheet and Traits List, and then have them write down or verbally recall real-life situations where they've seen those same traits in themselves or other people.

3. Invite students to use their own life experiences and knowledge of previously read books to make more meaningful connections with the characters. Have them complete the following sentences:

  • This character is like _____________.

  • This character reminds me of _____________.

  • This character's way of thinking could help me understand/make plans for _____________.

4. Have students summarize what they have learned by creating a mobile based on their character. Using a wire coat hanger, pieces of string, and construction paper, they can cut out and hang a variety of shapes with the following information written on each.

On one shape:
Story title
Author
Character's name
Picture of character
Description of character
Favorite motto (students can make this up)

On a second shape:
Strengths of character

On a third shape:
Weaknesses of character

For older grades, other shapes may include:
Internal/external conflicts
Static/dynamic character
Climax
Figurative language

Encourage students to use shapes and colors that reflect a particular character's traits. For example, a light blue circle might show that a character is calm or open-minded; a red square might indicate he or she is often rigid or angry.

Lesson Extension:
1. Have students make more real-world connections by applying their study of fictional characters to real people. Ask them about how they decide what a person is like and whether or not they like that person. What do they notice about a person that can help them decide? Why is it important to figure out people in this manner? Have students think of a person they know well in real life and discuss or write about how they got to know that person. What were their first impressions of him or her, and what were those impressions based on? Did those impressions change as they got to know the person better? Why or why not?

Assess Students: 

Teacher Observation: Were students able to accurately describe characters' traits and personalities? Were they able to provide good examples of quotes and situations that backed up those descriptions?

Evaluate Lesson:

  1. Were the students successful or frustrated?
  2. Were students able to identify elements of character development and use them to determine characters' traits and personalities?
  3. Did students enhance their understanding of Geronimo Stilton characters and their own personal lives by making meaningful connections between the two?

Assignment:
1. Have students pretend they are a Geronimo Stilton character who is writing a letter to another character in the series. What would he or she write about? When students are finished with the letters, ask volunteers to share theirs, discuss the characters' traits, and explain how those traits influenced their writing. You may also wish to post the letters on a bulletin board, cover up the characters' names, and have students guess the characters' identities based on the messages.