Basic Narrative Structure


Students will demonstrate their understanding of basic narrative structure (protagonist + obstacle + objective) by identifying protagonists, obstacles and objective of fairytale characters, as well as three things the protagonist did to accomplish the objective.


Materials Needed

Dry erase markers
Poster Board
Movie Clip


Lesson Directions


Anticipatory Set/Hook

Have the students gather around the TV. Play a short movie clip that shows a protagonist with an objective and obstacles. When clip is over, have students return to their seats.
Suggestion: Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant: the first scene where Indy is trying to get the golden head.
Note: If possible, try to get a clip from a puppet show.



Step 1: Write “protagonist + obstacle + objective” on the board. Ask the students what a protagonist is. Answers will vary, but something to the effect of “main character” or the “character who drives the action of the story.” Ask them to identify the protagonist of the clip.


Step 2: Ask them if they know what an objective is. Answer: this is something that the protagonist/character wants, it is their goal, so to speak. Ask them what the objective was in the clip.


Step 3: Ask them if they know what an obstacle is. Answer: anything that prevents the protagonist from achieving their objective. Ask the students to identify several objectives in the movie clip. Ask them what the protagonist did to overcome those obstacles.


Step 4: Tell the students that “protagonist + obstacle + objective” is basically what all stories are like. Tell them that we will now test the theory. Ask the students for suggestions of fairytales or fables. Write their suggestions on the board. These can include, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Chicken Little, Snow White, Rapunzel, etc. Choose one fairy tale and analyze it as a class. For instance, in Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack wants food (objective), but he doesn’t have money (obstacle). Ask the students to come up with three ways he overcomes his obstacle: sells his cow, steals a magic hen, and kills a giant. (This is basically modeling the assignment the students will soon be getting).


Step 5: Tell the students they will need to choose a fairytale and do the same thing: identify the protagonist, obstacle, objective, and three things that protagonist did to overcome their obstacle. Write this on the board for students to reference. Tell the students they will create a poster as a group to present at the end of class.


Step 6: Have the students get into groups. Have them come up with a first and second choice for a fairytale to analyze. As you give each group a piece of poster board and set of markers, ask them which fairytale they want to analyze. Make sure no two groups have the same fairytale. Give the students ten minutes to work on their posters.


Step 7: Have the students sit with their group. Remind them to be good audience members. Decide what order the students will present in and have a representative from each group go one at a time to present their poster.



Collect the posters.



Students will present their posters to the class and turn in to teacher for grading. Students must have written clearly on their poster the following: protagonist, obstacle, objective, and three things that protagonist did to overcome their obstacle.