Common core standards
- Grade 3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3
- Grade 4 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions) CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.3
- Grade 5 Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact) CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
- Grade 6 Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3
- Grade 7 Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot) CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.3
- Grade 8 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
- Grade 9-10 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
- Grade 11-12 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3
- e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed
- Dynamic, static, round and flat characters
- Protagonist, antagonist and stereo-typed characters
- Conflict in literature
- Story grammar
Figuring out character traits is an important part of Inference. Kylene Beers lists "Identifying] characters' beliefs, personalities, and motivations" as one of her thirteen types of inference. Students often struggle with the difference between a character trait like honorable and a fact about a character like hates broccoli. Here are some resource to help students master this concept!
- Scholastic Character Traits Organizer gives students a list of character traits and asks them to choose five or so to describe their character. It also asks them if the character seems real and is flat or round. Sanchez Class Character Study is the exact same organizer but cleaner in its lay out.
- Scholastic Character Traits 2 has the character name in the middle, a thought bubble for something the character thinks, a heart for something they feel, etc. Underneath each bubble is the trait that can be inferred.
- Sanchez Class Character Frame has four columns for character, character traits, actions that support the trait, and conversations by or about the character that illustrate that trait.
- Read Write Think Identifying Character Traits Handout is pretty awesome. It discusses what character traits are and how readers figure them out from the characters’ actions. At the bottom, it suggest a basic organizer students can use to infer character traits. Students list character actions on the left and adjectives that describe the action on the right. When adjectives start clustering, you’ve got a character trait. Intended for middle school students. Here is the graphic organizer that goes with it. Being the awesome ReadWriteThink website, they’ve also got an interactive version of the same organizer.
- ReadWriteThink Character Traits 2 is a more basic organizer. Students identify the character, three traits, and the evidence for each of the traits.
- Education Oasis Character Traits with Wordbank has the students list the traits and evidence. It includes a word bank at the bottom with common character trait words.
- Education Oasis Character Trait Comparison has boxes for two characters, one trait each, and five boxes for evidence.
- Education Oasis Character Trait Chart has a bubble in the middle for the main character trait and boxes coming out of it for evidence.
- Edbridge Primary Developing Readers has explanations of character traits and sentences frames for K-2, although some could be used with older students.
- ”I think____ feels ______.
- I think ____acted like ____.
- I have/have not felt like __________.
- The character _____ is _____ because _______.
- I think the ________ was _______ because_______.
- _________ reminds me of __________.” 
Lists of traits
- Teachervision Character Traits is a shorter list. Traits include selfish, shy, and energetic.
- Sanchez class Character Traits List is intended for middle elementary school. Traits include charming, honest and sloppy.
- ReadWriteThink Character Trait List is a pretty detailed list intended for middle school. Traits include dutiful and eager.
- 1st Grade with Miss Snowden Character Traits with Spongebob is an overview of how she used Sponge Bob to teach character traits.
Upper elementary (3/4-5)
- Identify Character Traits on Lesson Plans Page has a nice approach for helping students go beyond just listing physical characteristics. First the students listen to a description of a character and then they move into generating a list of character traits. The idea that character traits are often implied, not stated is stressed. Then students draw character traits out of a hat and have to write a brief character description that implies that trait.
- Lisa Leliahert on ReadWriteThink has created a lesson on character traits of strong female characters. Students listen to or read stories with strong female leads, discuss character traits that describe them and discuss if their gender matters.
- Kelly Hayden on Bright Hub suggests making a character trait Cinquian:
- ”A cinquain is a five-line poem that focuses on one subject. Students can use the character trait list from the first page of this lesson to help them write the cinquain. The rules to write a character trait cinquain are as follows:
- Write the character's name
- Write two character traits that describe the character as a whole
- Write three verbs that describe the character's actions
- Write a four word phrase that gives the writer's opinion about the character
- Write a noun that is another name or word for the character.” 
Middle School and above
- Traci Gardner on ReadWriteThink has uploaded a complete lesson plan on Character Traits. The lesson has students review what character traits are and then generate lists of traits to describe mystery characters from their book. The other students have to guess what character is being described. If more than one student chooses a character, the similarities and differences between the chosen adjectives are discussed. The lesson plan includes graphic organizers, handouts, and an impressive amount of detail.
- EReading Worksheets Character Traits Project focuses on implied or inferred character traits. Students are given a list of 25 traits and have to write down definitions and examples that show that trait for each. Their illustrating character traits activity is similar but includes an illustration and a character statement. Finally, their indirect character worksheet is a nice homework follow up. It gives the students a character trait, a line for definition, and the questions; “What might a character with this trait do?”
|Harcourt School Grade 4 Inferring Character Traits Activity has students read a passage about a character and then answer questions about her.|
- Mrshatzi InferCharacter has over two pages of short statements about characters. Students have to infer a character trait from each statement and justify it.
- Lauren Candler Analyzing Character Traits is a 21 page preview of her book. The materials are awesome, but it says PREVIEW in huge letters on every page.