3-5 Fiction Text Structure

For 3-5 students it is important to begin increasing the level of text complexity as well as encouraging students to look deeper into the text.  Students need to see that the fiction text structure does not change but does look differently because the text is more complex.  It is important to continually add more complex text as the year progresses.  Genre studies are a great way to accomplish this by moving from fables (singular problem and solution) to fairy tales (still predictable but more complex) and then legends/folktales etc which often have more than one problem, multiple perspectives and various characters both primary and secondary.

Review of Big Five is important within the first week of school just to make sure all students have the foundational skill of basic fictional text structure and comprehension.

big fiveFor 3-5 students it is time to move a bit deeper and show students that as they read they will encounter the exposition at the beginning which is the introduction of the characters and setting.  The events will begin and action will rise to the conflict in the story. (rising action) The story has an exciting part usually trying to solve the problem or surrounding the problem which is the climax.  As the problem is solved, the events begin to slow down and come to and end. (falling action)  Reinforcing the idea of Plot and how a story is developed through these elements or pieces.

Using the same visual as Big 5–we add elements of rising and falling action, climax and exposition.  In addition to these elements it is important for students to begin thinking about the lesson of the story or the theme.


To ensure students get a true understanding of the elements begin with a predictable text such as a fairy tale. My recommendation is Cinderella or The Three Little Pigs because students know these stories and they are able to make connections of new information to something familiar.  If students have too many new variable when they are learning–they will shut down.   I like to start with a video to watch–stop often after a couple of minutes and discuss the elements–continue video–stop and go back through the elements. Always model writing in the elements as you discuss them. This helps them hear it, see it and then discuss it which helps them begin to make sense of it. Be sure the students are talking about it–not just you!  The students must verbally discuss their ideas to process them and make them truly concrete.

Cinderella Class Interactive which walks them through the above elements.  Using Cinderella allows you to read many versions for compare and contrast opportunities throughout your unit.

1933 Version of Three Little Pigs is a charming version of the story and is depicted in a way most student have never seen the story.

Continue to model for students but begin to give gradual responsibility to students. To accomplish this use strategies such as Think Pair Share or Turn and Talk which allow student time to collaborate and read, find elements, discuss them and then later share out whole group.

Here are various graphic organizers that are great options if you prefer something different than the hand visual.

Plot Diagram from Read Write Think

Plot Diagram Interactive

original-524724-1This is a free download on Teacher Pay Teacher-click on image to go to the teacher’s store.


The most important part of teaching fiction text structure to 3-5 students–REPETITION!  You must first explicitly teach how to dissect the story–using a video clip is best. Then continue to model and guide students through different stories.  Gradually give more and more independence to students but begin whole group, then in groups or partners and then by themselves. This is more difficult for students than teacher think so we must consistent with our vocabulary and continue to model and practice until they can identify the elements after reading. If students can retell these basic story elements–you know they have basic comprehension of a text and are ready for more difficult tasks such as inferring or drawing conclusions.

4 Thoughts.

  1. Thank you for reminding me that repetition is a good thing. Sometimes I think the kids are getting tired of hearing the some thing over and over. Thank you for all you do!

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