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Understanding the characters in a story is an important skill for students to learn. In this lesson idea, shared by Jonathan Nix, students use a ball of clay to help them ignore distractions while reading a story. In doing so, they are able to follow the background of the characters and understand their importance.


When teaching first grade there are many distractions to students while reading stories. We are working on understanding the characters in a story. Each of my students are given a ball of clay while I am reading a story. The students create a character from the story. After reading we share our characters and act out a specific part of the story. I find that the tactile element keeps the students engaged and focused and creates positive experiences to talk about text.

Education Level(s)



Reading & Literacy

Learning Objectives

What I hope to teach my students is that characters add a great deal to a story. Characters are rich with backround and can lead to a better undertanding of a story. Understanding characters also leads to a better comprehention in fictional text. I would also like to expand into re-telling the stories using the clay characters. The interest level and motivation is also increased.


I will use several character rich text. Several containers of clay. Some type of quick capture video cameras. Video viewing tools.

Other Information

The idea of using tactile things to help students learn is a great way to engage all students at all levels. I am excited to expand and include as many teachers as I can in my idea.

Image from iStock

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