School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 3. Use elements of narrative texts to facilitate understanding

Objective b. Identify the setting and explain its importance to the story


Select several texts to feature for class discussion and instruction that have a variety of settings, both time and place. Begin with a text that has an easily identifiable setting from both the text and pictures. An example of this type of text is The Bear that Heard Crying by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Helen Kinsey. The first sentence in this text states “On a warm afternoon in June 1783, Sarah Whitcher got lost in the woods.” This sentence clearly states the when and where the story takes place. Explain to the students that when they read a story they will understand it better if they can answer the 2 questions below:

Where does this story happen? When does this story happen?

May include specific names of places (countries, states, cities, buildings, parks, etc.) such as United States, Maryland, Cumberland, Security Square Mall, or Catoctin Zoo, etc.)


May just refer to places such as at the park or in an airplane, in a faraway country, in a castle, etc.


May include details that describe the place including what you might see or hear there (a steep mountain, a flat, grassy park, the noisy classroom, etc.)

May include specific days, months, years, or time


May include general things (long ago, morning, night, pioneer days, etc.)


May include details about the weather (warm, snow, rain, sunny, dark, etc.) or seasons (winter, spring, etc.)

Use the information below the questions to explain to the students the kinds of text clues that give the reader information about the setting. Now display the 3 column chart below:

Title of Story Where does this story happen? When does this story happen?
The Bear that Heard Crying by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Helen Kinsey In the woods June 1783
Warm afternoon

Discuss how the author gave us several clues about the setting in the opening sentence of the story, The Bear that Heard Crying. Add the details to the chart as shown.

Explain to the students that sometimes authors make the setting very important to the characters and events in the story. Reread the second page of the text and talk about the importance of the setting to Sarah. Explain how the trees, animals and flowers drew her away from the path; how she ate the strawberries; how she scratched her hands and feet on the stickers; and how the darkness and the wind scared her. Reread the last paragraph where Sarah gives into her fears because the woods seemed “too big and too dark”. Ask the students if they think that the setting is important to our story about Sarah up to this point. Continue the reading of the story, paying close attention to the setting and continue to ask students the importance of setting as you read each page. Ask students, “ How is the setting influencing the things the characters are saying and doing? How many days did the story cover?”. Tell students that some stories only cover minutes of time and others cover many years. As a reader, we use the clues about time that the author gives us to help organize the story events.

Compare the setting in this story to the students’ lives. Points to include may be style of dress, search party with guns, parents leaving children at home, walking to relative’s home, rural setting, etc. Ask students if this story could happen in modern times. What would be different? What would be the same? Ask students if this story could be rewritten with a modern twist.


Continue exploring setting in whole group lessons using a variety of texts. Identify the setting and explain its importance to the characters and events in the story. Consult the list below for texts that could be used to conduct this exploration.

Title Setting
When the Root Children Wake Up by Audrey Wood Fantasy story showing a one year cycle through the seasons using imaginary beings; rich imagery and beautiful artwork weaves a magical tale that students in Maryland can connect to their own 4 seasons; timeless
Uptown by Bryan Collier Urban setting (Harlem) described through simple text and colorful illustrations; modern times
The Picnic by Ruth Brown The setting is shown from the animals’ point of view through both the text and illustrations and is very important to the characters and events in the story
Madlenka by Peter Sis Story set in NYC showing a variety of ethnic characters who live on the main character’s block; setting provides a framework and organization to both the main and minor characters in the story
The Blizzard by Betty Ren Wright Set in the 1950’s in an unspecified rural setting; the blizzard is very important to the events and characters in the story
All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go by Daniel M. Joseph and Lydia J. Mendal Set in modern times the main character in this realistic story has a change of setting which plays a major role in the story problem
Dakota Dugout by Ann Turner Set during the pioneer days, the narrator describes the setting and its challenges as she and her husband start their married life