Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Developing Story Structure With Paper-Bag Skits

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Nancy J. Kolodziej, Ed.D.

Nancy J. Kolodziej, Ed.D.

Cookeville, Tennessee


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives


Teacher Resources




  • Computers with Internet access

  • Overhead projector and transparencies

  • LCD projector for website modeling

back to top



Drama Map

Grades   6 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Inquiry & Analysis

Drama Map

Students analyzing a play can map out the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution for a variety purposes. This interactive is aimed at secondary students.


Plot Diagram

Grades   1 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Plot Diagram

The Plot Diagram is an organizational tool focusing on a pyramid or triangular shape, which is used to map the events in a story. This mapping of plot structure allows readers and writers to visualize the key features of stories.


back to top



back to top



back to top



1. Before this lesson, make sure students understand the importance of character, setting, and plot as elements of a story.

  • Characters are developed by what the character says and does, how other characters react to the character, and what the author or narrator tells us about the character.

  • Setting can be described in terms of where and when. Students should consider why setting is important to the plot and how it affects the characters and mood of the story.

  • Plot hinges on a conflict the main characters face and the resolution of that conflict. A typical plot has the following sequence of events:

  • Exposition—introduces the characters, setting, and mood

  • Rising action—introduces the conflict

  • Conflict—the main character’s problem, which may be internal (e.g., guilt, greed) or external (e.g., poverty, an accident)

  • Climax—the moment of greatest emotion; the turning point of the story when the conflict begins to be resolved

  • Falling action—the events following the climax but before the resolution

  • Resolution—how the conflict ends
If needed, consider teaching the ReadWriteThink.org lessons “Inferring How and Why Characters Change,” “Charting Characters for a More Complete Understanding of the Story,” “Travel Brochures: Highlighting the Setting of a Story,” or “Using Picture Books to Teach Plot Development and Conflict Resolution.”

2. Plan heterogeneous cooperative groups with three to four students per group.

3. Prepare paper bags. One bag is needed per cooperative group plus one bag for teacher modeling. The size of the bags will depend on the size of the items selected for the bags. In some cases, lunch-size bags will be sufficient; gift bags work well too. Place five seemingly random items in each bag. (To simplify the modeling process, your bag can contain three items.) These items will be used as props in the skits. The following objects are examples:

  • Baseball cap

  • Ticket stub

  • Map

  • Travel brochure

  • Keys

  • Newspaper article

  • Computer disk

  • Sunglasses

  • Winter scarf

  • Photograph

4. Print and make a copy of the Story Elements Web, Guidelines for Creating and Performing Skits, Cooperative Group Roles, Grading Rubric, and the Conflict–Resolution Audience Guide for each student in your class. Make a transparency of the Story Elements Web.

5. Print a copy of the Story Elements Web: Teacher Copy, the Drama Map Example: Teacher Resource, and the Plot Diagram Example: Teacher Resource for your reference.

6. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve a 50-minute block of time in your school’s computer lab for Session 2. Visit and familiarize yourself with the interactive Drama Map and Plot Diagram tools. Add both tools to the Favorites list on the computers your students will be using.

7. Make arrangements to move your class to an area with extra space for Session 3, so students can practice their skits.

back to top