Story Elements: Danny and the Dinosaur

Grade Levels: K - 3


This lesson introduces primary students to the elements of a story that is read aloud. Students begin by identifying the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and then use a story map to organize the story elements.



  1. Hook/Engagement

    Discuss the beginning, middle, and end of a popular movie, and have students talk about the events. Show students a completed version of this graphic organizer using a familiar story, such as a fairy tale, as an example.

  2. Vocabulary

    Characters, setting, problem, solution, and events

  3. Measurable Objectives

    Tell students that they will listen to Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff and then describe the story elements in Danny and the Dinosaur. Introduce the elements of a story and define each element, using the graphic organizer. Tell students that organizing the parts of a story can help them understand the story better.

    • Characters: Who is in the story? (beginning)

    • Setting/Place: Where does the story take place? (beginning)

    • Time: When does the story happen? (beginning)

    • Problem: What is it that one or more characters wants to do or wants to happen by the end of the story? (middle)

    • Events: What happens in the story that helps the characters solve the problem? (middle)

    • Solution: What happened at the end of the story that tells how the characters solved the problem? (end)

    Tell students they will be able to identify the parts of this story (beginning, middle, and end) which will help them understand the story and allow them to explain the important parts of the story to their friends.

  4. Focused Instruction

    Introduce the story by discussing whether the students have ever been to a museum. For those who have, ask what their favorite part was. For those students who have never been to a museum, you might show some pictures of museums on the Internet, or give examples of different kinds of museums and what students might see if they visit. Read the story, Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff. As you read, be sure to ask questions about the elements of the story, and to check student understanding. Sample questions:

    • Cover: Who do you think the characters will be in this story?

    • Cover: Where does this story take place?

    • p. 8: What did Danny like best about the museum? If you were in the museum with Danny, which displays would you be sure to visit? Why?

    • p. 13: Make a prediction. What event do you think will happen next?

    • p. 20: Why did the dinosaur think that the buildings were rocks?

    • p. 36: How did the other animals at the zoo feel when Danny and the dinosaur visited?

    • p. 38: What are some of the places Danny and the dinosaur have been so far?

    • p. 59: Why did the children pretend that they couldn't find the dinosaur?

    • p. 62: What was the solution of the story? Where did the dinosaur go at the end of the day?

    You may want to stop throughout the story to draw some quick illustrations to keep track of the events of the story. Be sure to emphasize that the drawings are just to help you organize the story's events and do not have to be artistic. After reading the story, have students volunteer ideas to complete the Beginning, Middle, and End graphic organizer. Once the basic events of the story are organized, introduce the Story Map graphic organizer and discuss the elements of the story. Use the following questions to guide the students through the process of filling in the graphic organizer as you discuss the story.

    • Who are the main characters?

    • What is the problem in the story?

    • What is the setting of the story?

    • What are three main events?

    • How do the characters solve the problem?

  5. Guided Practice

    Once the story has been discussed, assign students to groups of five and have each student in each group draw a picture of one story element. For example, one student in each group can draw the characters and another student can draw the problem in the story. Circulate around the room to give suggestions and guide students who are struggling. When each student has completed his or drawing, cut them out, attached to popsicle sticks, and then have each group summarize the story using the mounted story elements to give a puppet show. If students have difficulty identifying story elements, encourage them to use the sequence chain graphic organizer to organize the events of the story first, then use that information to complete the story elements map.

  6. Independent Practice

    Provide each student with a blank story map graphic organizer. Have them complete it for a story they have read, using pictures and/or words.

  7. Assessment

    Students will demonstrate their mastery of the new skill(s) and/or knowledge through their completed drawing and their puppet show performance of the story. You may use informal questions to assess individual student's understanding of story elements.

Reflection and Planning

Through observation of the students' performances and their participation during the completion of the story map, you should be able to determine if students are capable of moving forward with more independent assignments. If it appears the majority of students need help with most areas, continue to support them during the completion of the story map. Additional independent written activities can be assigned as follow-up to the lessons to challenge the students and encourage mastery and independence. Once mastery is achieved, students should be expected to complete their own story maps, either through writing or drawing.

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