Lesson: Character Traits in Harry Potter

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Lesson Objective

No objective at this time.

Lesson Plan

5th Grade



5.R.3.3– Character Analysis in Harry Potter













Standard : 5th RC 3.3




Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text: RC 3.3Contrast the actions, motives (e.g., loyalty, selfishness, conscientiousness), and appearances


of characters in a work of fiction & discuss importance of the contrasts to the plot or theme.


5.R.2.4 Draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence and prior knowledge.


I. Desired Outcome


By the end of the period, students will identify at least one character trait to describe 3 of the 4 main characters introduced in the second chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. They will support each judgment with an example from the text, citing the page number.


II. Evidence of Learning


-student participation in discussion of story


-character traits organizer


-5 question quiz




III. Opening the Lesson


A. Activity to open the lesson ideally:


  1. Motivates and engages students,


  2.  Either assesses prior knowledge or  explicitly builds on prior knowledge/life experiences/interests – for example, “Do Nows”


  3.  States the objective of the lesson.


B. How long will the opening take?


C. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)


Harry Potter is one of the most popular and best-selling books of all time.  One of the reasons it is such a popular book is that the characters are so well developed.  The author, J.K. Rowling, uses detailed descriptions and dialogue to paint a clear picture of each character in the reader’s mind. 




Today are going to read just one chapter of the first Harry Potter book so we can see examples of how dialogue and descriptions can tell us so much about characters. 




As we read, we are going to look for what character traits we can use to describe each of these characters.  Remember, character traits describe the character’s personality.  It’s how they feel, act and think.  It doesn’t include how they look.  Think of what adjectives you would use to describe your best friend.  (share out)






IV. Instruction and Modeling – What is the teacher doing?


A.What are you going to teach and how?  (Will you provide relevant information, model thought processes, establish guides or graphic organizers, etcetera?)


B.How will you differentiate instruction?  (small groups, guided math, guided reading, guided writing, literature circles, etc)


C..How long will each activity take?


D. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)


E. Consider Newmann’s Rigor


Distribute list of character traits.  Read them aloud (or have students read them aloud) and clarify any new vocabulary or unknown words. 




Read Aloud:


As we read, listen for what details are used to describe each character and listen to what each character says or thinks.  These are the clues the author has given us so that we can figure out what kind of personality they have.  If you one of the characters makes you think of one of the traits on your list, circle it and put the character’s initials next to the word.  The characters we will meet in this chapter are Vernon Dursley (VD), Petunia Dursley (PD), Dudley Dursley (DD), and Harry Potter (HP).  Remember, you will need to have examples to support your judgments.




As you read Chapter 2 aloud, stop and pause to engage students in discussion, clarify misunderstandings, or as a few comprehension questions. 


Possible questions:


What is the first thing Mrs. Dursley says to Harry in the morning?


What do you think is the first thing she says to Dudley each morning?


How is Dudley treated on his birthday? How do you think Harry is treated on his birthday?


What happens when Dudley counts his presents? How does he react? What do his parents do?


How do we know that Harry doesn’t usually get to go anywhere with the family?




After reading, engage in a short discussion about the characters introduced in this chapter.


Possible questions:


Who do you think is the most likeable character so far? Why?


Why might it be difficult for Harry to live with the Dursleys?


How would you describe a parent who is nice to one child and mean to the other?


When kids get whatever they want, how do they tend to behave?




(25 minutes)




V.Guided Practice – What are the students doing?


A.What will students do to interact and practice the subject matter? 


B. How will you differentiate instruction? 


C.What sorts of groupings will you use?


D.How long will each activity take?


Distribute character traits grid or have students make a similar one in their notebooks.




As a class, complete the first row for any one of the characters.  I’ve included an example.  I would recommend deleting my own text and then putting the example together with your students so they can understand the process a bit better.




For each character, the students will identify 1-2 character traits and support each judgment with at least one example from the text (citing page number).  For more advanced readers, demand more examples from the text and perhaps more traits for each character.  Students can use the traits listed on their previous handout or think of one not listed.




I also encourage students to sketch a picture of the character below their name. 




Have the students complete the trait organizer for the remaining 3 characters in Chapter 2.  Remind them to support with evidence from the text.  Depending on their reading abilities, you may want to allow students to work with a partner.




(30 minutes)


VI. Independent Practice


Distribute 5 question character traits quiz.  Allow students to reference the text during the quiz.


(10 minutes)


VIII. Closing the Lesson






Allow students time to share their work with a small group or with the class.  I recommend using the students’ ideas to complete a larger version of the chart you can hang in the classroom.





1. What went well?

2. What would you change?

3. What needs explanation?

The students really love the book and very much engaged in thinking about these characters.



Allowing them to sketch each character got them excited about the independent work.



These characters are well described and it’s not too difficult to find examples supporting clear character traits.

The text is a bit advanced (Fountas and Pinell Level V), so I would like to try a similar lesson with a less difficult text.

I do think you can read just Chapter 2 to the class (skipping Chapter 1) and they will still know what’s going on.  Perhaps it will entice them to read the entire book!



Make sure you make copies of the chapter for the students to reference so they have the examples in the text right in front of them.  They could even highlight parts of the text that show particular traits if you make copies instead of using a class set of books.







Lesson Resources

Harry Potter character analysis questions   Assessment
character traits  
Character traits chart harry potter   Notes


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