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Lesson Plan

Thoughtshots Can Bring Your Characters to Life!

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 30-minute sessions and one 60-minute session
Lesson Author

Darla Salay

Burlington, New Jersey


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



One of the ways authors add depth and realism to their characters is through the use of "thoughtshots." Students learn how to add detail to their stories by including thoughtshots such as flashbacks, flash-aheads, and internal dialogue. Students identify and discuss thoughtshots in The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant. Next, students work in pairs to identify thoughtshots in other stories. In the final session, the teacher models how to insert thoughtshots into a text, using An Angel for Solomon Singer (also by Rylant). Students then write their own thoughtshots for Solomon Singer and then write thoughtshots to add to their own works-in-progress.

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Types of Thoughtshots handout: This handout provides students with detailed descriptions of what each type of "thoughtshot" is, and can be used to help them add thoughtshots to their own works.

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Olness, R. (2005). Using literature to enhance writing instruction: A guide for K-5 teachers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Using authors as mentors, students can learn a variety of writing styles and elements of the writer's craft.

  • Picture books can be used to acquaint children with a sense of audience, new vocabulary, and various literary devices.

  • Reading aloud should be a daily activity in classrooms, not only for the enjoyment of hearing a good book, but also to enrich the writing program.

  • Picture books serve as excellent mentor texts for students because this genre closely matches their writing.


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