Character Study Part 2: Character Traits, Character Change, and More

Welcome to Part 2 of our Character Study!

Studying Character Traits - Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

You can read up on Part 1 HERE!

Our Analyzing Character Unit is in FULL swing in our classroom.

We started by discussing the different types of characters in our books. Since we’ve had many read alouds and read a lot of mentor texts this year, it was easy to refer back to stories we’ve read together as a class.

Once students were familiar with the different types of characters, we went more in-depth with personality traits and physical traits. To demonstrate these concepts, we read the story Boundless Grace, which is a phenomenal mentor text for not only character traits but for character change as well!

Since I teach 5th graders, we took traits to another level and discussed how authors may come out and explicitly tell you about a character’s personality and/or physical traits, but often times does not. Instead, you have to infer these traits from a character’s actions, dialogue, thinking, etc.

Studying character traits lasted a few days and I met with groups to re-teach, review, and enrich. I used task cards to give groups some quick and easy practice to help with these concepts. The task cards include a short passage that describes a character. Students have to decide which character trait the character is showing in each short passage.

Switching it up now and then can be very beneficial for your groups. If students are struggling with reading and comprehension, the idea of inferring character traits may seem overwhelming to them. By providing my students with these short passages to infer character traits, they had the opportunity for extra practice and felt less overwhelmed with the task.

For a quick (and FUN HALLWAY DISPLAY) formative assessment on physical and personality traits, we completed these Open Mind Profiles which show the inside of our character’s brain.

After a few days of reading different mentor texts and both analyzing and inferring traits, we then moved into character change.

I went back to our original mentor text of Boundless Grace to make those meaningful connections with my students. Together, we made this anchor chart, highlighting the changes the main character in the story goes through.

Even though we created this anchor chart together, I also had students work on their own graphic organizers (they did these on their own first). Once students finished their own, they shared some of their understandings out loud.

This book is also great because so many of my students can connect to the character’s problem in the story. Essentially, this is what we want our readers to do, isn’t it? Not only comprehend and see the character change, but to also take away the “bigger picture” or message and apply it to their own lives?

Finally, to assess my students’ understanding at the completion of the unit, I gave them a quick reading passage and assessment.

Next, we will start to explore the concept of character conflicts. We will learn about the different type of character conflicts in order to prepare for our next unit on plot.

All of the posters, over 10 graphic organizers, activities, task cards (and much more) can be found HERE in my Analyzing Characters Pack! Click the button below to check it out!

Grab a copy of Boundless Grace to use in your own classroom!

Do you need more passages to help you teach character analysis? Check out my Characters: Differentiated Reading Passages and Questions resource. I provide teachers with 10 differentiated character reading passages. Each passage has five short answer questions for students to analyze characters. Click HERE or the button below to check them out. If you download the preview, you can see the entire resource.

This resource is now bundled.

The first bundle includes 10 Fiction Differentiated Passages and Questions. Click HERE or the button below.

This bundle includes 20 total resources – 10 Informational Text and 10 Fiction Differentiated Passages and Questions. Click HERE or the button below.

Just added: I wrote a blog post on Inferring Character Traits Through Dialogue (Plus a Free Graphic Organizer). Click HERE to check it out! 



  1. Looks awesome! Just added it to my wishlist. We do Open-Mind Portraits as well, but with a piece of paper folded in half. It’s interesting to see it done another way! Thanks for sharing!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  2. Thank you! Your idea of folding the paper on half sounds great. I haven’t seen that before.

  3. I went straight to tpt to buy… Can’t wait to use it!!

  4. So glad I found your blog! I’m teaching 5th next year! I’m pretty scared.. eeek!

  5. So happy to find another fifth grade blogging teacher! :) I love the open mind profile of a character! I will definitely be using this in the future…Pinning it now!
    ~following via Google Connect :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  6. Thanks Brandee! You’re too sweet!

    @Courtney- you will love it! Is this your first year? Congrats!

  7. Love how you’ve used the analogy of major : minor :: round : flat for analyzing characters. GREAT strategy and I absolutely LOVE the way your unit turned out – excellent product!
    Antonia @ forkin4th

  8. Hi Kristine – I love seeing all your kiddos engaged and enjoying their reading/thinking more deeply about the characters. Good stuff! I was looking for an email for you…I have a question for you. I was hoping I could ask you on how to be added to the Top Teachers Smograboard ( sorry spelling on that is a little off LOL ) board for pinterest. You are always so sweet and encouraging on the forum so thought I could ask you. My pinterest is
    if you can add me or if not maybe you know who I can ask…Thank you so much! :o)
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  9. Hi Vicky! Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I really appreciate that! I would love to add you to those boards, but unfortunately I don’t have the ability to do that. I wish I could because your stuff rocks! Sorry!

  10. I love the use of picture books, even with our big bad 5th graders! I still gather them at my carpet and read. Boundless Grace sounds like a great one for Character Traits. I look forward to using this resource very soon! Thank you!

  11. I always tell my kids you can learn SO much from picture books and you are NEVER too old. Trust me, those big bad 5th graders are quiet as a mouse with their mouths open wide in AWE when I read picture books to them! ;) They LOVE it! :) So glad these ideas can help!

  12. Slightly off topic question, but I am wanting to start using more anchor charts with my 5th graders this year. May sound silly, but do you create them as you teach or before hand? I’ve read that you should create them with the students…but doesn’t it take some time to put the detail in them that you show here? You are so creative!

    Also, we have to supply our own easel and chart paper…do you have a recommended style?

  13. Hi Joy! I always create them with my students. That way the students have ownership in their learning, and the anchor charts are THEIR thoughts, not mine! Since I do like to make them “cute” I always put the titles and/or doodles on the chart ahead of time. I can usually whip that part out in about 3 minutes.

    For an easel, anything works! This year I had one that was double sided with clips on top to hold the anchor chart paper, and it also had a big tub on the bottom to store all of my markers/supplies. This is key for me because I need to be super organized. You can get decently priced ones on MPM Supplies, School Specialty, or you can ask for one on Donor’s Choose! I hope this helps! :) Take care!

  14. Hi! I purchased this unit and we are getting ready to use it. We’re in a blended curriculum this year transitioning into Common Core. We’re definitely going to use, Boundless Grace. Do you have any other texts that you’ve used and loved for this unit? Thanks!

  15. Great idea! I have taught Kindergarten for the last 8 years and will be teaching 3rd grade this year! I love your blog and TPT store, you are helping this girl prepare for a new school year and challenge! Thanks!

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Thanks so much, Amanda! Welcome to upper-el! You will LOVE it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.