Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Where Is Your Story Set?

Kathryn Clark
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students develop an understanding of setting in literature by first examining where their own life stories are currently set and then imagining what their ideal settings would be.


The student describes or illustrates the setting in a literary text.


-Blank Setting Chart for each student with Rubric on the back (See Associated File)
-Pen or pencil for each student
-Red or green editing pen for each student
-Overhead transparency of Setting Chart (See Associated File) or chart drawn on white board
-Vis-à-vis pens or white board markers
-Literature books, novels, or stories


1. Read the targeted story and make notes on parts of the setting (place, time, time period, objects, weather).
2. Make a transparency of the Setting Chart, or draw it on the white board.
3. Make copies of the blank Setting Chart for each student with the Rubric on the back. (See Associated File)


NOTE: This lesson instructs and assesses understanding of the concept of setting only.

1. Ask students to imagine that they are characters in a story. Ask them to think about where their “life story” is taking place. Next, ask them to think about when their story is taking place. Explain that the “where and when” of a story is called the setting.

2. Distribute blank Setting Charts. (See Associated File)

3. Guide students in generating labels for the different parts of the story’s setting by filling in the “Right Now” portion of the Setting Chart as a class. As students volunteer parts of their setting, fill in the chart on the overhead or white board. (See Example in Associated File)

4. When a student volunteers an answer that is a new part of setting, have all students fill in the label for that section on their charts. For example, if a student responds that she is in school right now, explain that school would be a part of the place of a setting. Label one row of the chart “Place” and put “school” in that section of the “Right Now” column.

5. If students are having difficulty generating some parts of the setting, ask guiding questions. For example, “Where are you sitting right now?” When a student responds, “in a desk,” explain that a desk would be one of the objects in the setting. Label one row of the chart “Objects,” and write “desks” in that section of the “Right Now” column.

6. When the class has successfully generated the appropriate labels for their charts and completely filled out the “Right Now” column of their charts, move on to the “My Dream” column. Ask students to think about the following question: “If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?” Encourage the students to be as creative as possible. Give students five to ten minutes to fill in the column with their dream setting. Circulate and ask guiding questions as needed.

7. Allow a few students to share their dream settings with the class before moving on to the reading selection’s setting.

8. Students are now ready to apply what they have learned about setting to a story or novel. Have students take out their literature books or novels. Explain that clues about the setting usually appear in the exposition, or beginning of the story. It may be helpful to give students the page numbers that they need to focus on.

9. Give students fifteen to twenty minutes to fill out the last column of their charts. Circulate and ask guiding questions as needed.

10. Students turn in completed charts for the teacher to formatively assess.

11. Make a note of students who provide commendable descriptions of the setting. As a follow-up activity, go over student responses as a class. Have the selected students share their answers with the class. Complete the “Reading Selection” column of the Setting Chart on your overhead transparency or white board. Using their red or green pens, other students write down any information that they did not orginally include on their charts.


Use completed Setting Charts to formatively assess the student’s ability to describe each part of the setting of a given story.
See the Rubric in the associated file for successful performance criteria.


1. Depending upon the level of the students, it may be helpful to use a story with which most or all students are already familiar, such as a fairy tale. Full text of many fairy tales can be found at the Weblinks provided below.
2. The lesson can also be presented prior to reading a story or novel. Students can then use the chart during reading to jot down information about the setting as they come to it.

Web Links

Full text versions of 12 Grimm’s fairy tales are found here. Click on “Tell me a story...” then on “Take the secret path to the list of stories” to access the tales.
Grimm's Fairy Tales

Many different traditional tales can be found at this site. The required reading level for these stories is slightly lower than for those found on the Grimm site.

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